Friday, December 25, 2009

Little mother

Like everyone else in the Midwest, we're snowed in. We were originally planning to leave for my parents' house in Iowa today. Now we might leave tomorrow. Or Sunday. Or sometime in late May when this snow finally melts.

Still, we had a nice Christmas. According to the newspaper, it was the first time snow actually fell in Kansas City on Christmas Day in 50 years. Our new goose wore his/her Santa suit for the first time. WCK loved all of her presents from Santa. One present was an interactive baby doll that cries and talks to you, usually to demand things. "I'm hungry!" "I'm tired!" "Play with me, Mommy!" If you don't do what the doll says, it cries more. It's highly realistic. Perhaps if Santa had gained an understanding of just how demanding this doll was, perhaps if Santa had known that this doll actually says, "Uh, oh! I made a stinky!", then Santa might have thought twice about purchasing said doll and would have delivered a silent doll. Santa is clearly insane.

Anyway. Every time the doll would cry, WCK would get very concerned and rush to figure out how to calm it down. Just before bedtime tonight, WCK told me to find the "off" switch on the doll so it wouldn't cry in the night and wake her up. Already, she has her priorities straight as a mother. Real babies should come with a nighttime "off" switch.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas art project.

WCK made this Nativity scene at preschool. Isn't it awesome? This is one of those hand-made Christmas decorations that I will lovingly get out and put on display year after year, until she's 35 years old. At least.

The best part -- and look really closely -- is that Mary has long eyelashes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jingle Bell what?

Just a bit of WCK's version of "Jingle Bell Rock":

"Mixin' the mangoes with the jinglin' peeps ... That's the Jingle Bell Rock!"


My mom took me to see lots of plays when I was a little girl. She always got season tickets to the children's theater in Omaha, so we went all the time. Even though I didn't have a gift for being in plays (see previous post about "Ring me slow"), I loved going to see them, especially musicals. I always hoped WCK and I could go see plays together.

A little over a year ago, I took WCK to "Busytown", which was based on Richard Scarry books. You know, the books with the cute, fuzzy animals and Lowly the worm. She did OK until there was a part with firefighters rushing around the stage, trying to put out a pretend fire, and then she got scared and proclaimed all plays "scary." Once WCK proclaims something "scary", it can remain scary for years, even when it is clearly not scary. I mean, for the love of God, Elmo is not scary, WCK! She just makes up her mind that something is scary, and that's the way it is.

For a year, I searched for a play that could not possibly have anything remotely scary in it. I finally came across a production of "Goodnight Moon" at the same children's theater that put on "Busytown". I knew "Goodnight Moon" could not possibly contain anything scary. I wasn't even sure how anyone could create an hour-long production based on "Goodnight Moon", since the book takes about three minutes to read and has no plot and no dialogue, other than the old lady whispering, "Hush."

WCK complained bitterly when I told her we were going. We had to sit in the very last row of the theater, and she crouched down on the floor and watched the play between the spaces between the seats. But by the end ... success! She decided the play was not scary. She liked it. She wanted to go back for more plays!

So last week we went back and saw "Madeline's Christmas", based on the book. You know: "In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines ..." WCK loved it, and she didn't even sit on the floor. She sat in my lap, but that was not out of fear. She's so light that those folding theater chairs squish her in half. As a bonus, we've been reading a lot of the Madeline books, too.

Whew. I can't wait to go to more plays.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Santa Experience

I think WCK is getting all Santa-ed out. She has Santa fatigue.

We saw him the first time this season a few weeks ago, when he showed up unexpectedly at Fun Run while WCK was playing with her friends. She went wild with excitement and practically stalked the poor man until she was able to go tell him what she wanted for Christmas.

Shortly after that, she got in the car one day after school and told me that Santa and Mrs. Claus had visited her school that day. There was a candy cane in her backpack to prove it. She was happy about the Santa visit, but slightly less excited, and she still hasn't eaten the candy cane.

After that, we passed by Santa at two different malls/shopping areas, and WCK had absolutely no interest in going to see him. Little did WCK know, I'd already signed us up for "The Santa Experience."

Yes. Nowadays, it's not good enough to go visit a Santa at a mall. You must sign up in advance for "The Santa Experience."

Do not ask how much I paid for "The Santa Experience." I will not tell you. Let's just hope that WCK's future employer values life experience (in the form of, say, a Santa Experience), because the child can no longer afford to go to college.

After an elf checked us in, we were guided to the first area of "The Santa Experience" The kids got special stationery and wrote letters to Santa. WCK patiently sat in her little chair and printed "BABY DOLL" and "HANNAH MONTANA" on her stationery. I might have coached her a little bit, because I said I had a feeling that Santa might bring her those things. Then an elf put her letter in the Magic Mailbox. When the Magic Mailbox was opened, it made a roaring, vacuum-cleaner-like sound and shot artificial snow everywhere. It was pretty dang cool, but it made WCK a little nervous.

Stop two on "The Santa Experience": We decorated a little picture frame shaped like a Christmas tree. Of course, I didn't order an Official Photo small enough to fit in our Official Frame, because by the time I got to the photo-ordering booth (stop six), the frame-making activity had been erased from my memory. Fortunately, Santa personally autographed our tree frame, so I can probably sell it for big bucks on e-Bay.

Stop three: The visit with Santa himself. WCK actually protested this. "But I already saw Santa!" she said. She did have a good point. She'd met with him. She'd said her piece. He'd agreed to her terms. Why did she have to tell him again? I finally coaxed her into the Santa room, and then Santa enticed her with some candy canes. We did get a cute picture, but I wondered what I was doing, encouraging my child to go hang out with a stranger who offers her candy.

Stop four: Cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus. Each kid got a big sugar cookie and got to decorate it with different colors of icing, under the careful supervision of Mrs. Claus. Mrs. Claus said that most kids eat about half their cookie. WCK ate the whole thing, because she's an over-achiever, and because it was about an hour past our lunch time by the time we got to the cookie room. Poor Mrs. Claus was sporting a broken arm in a sling, which she said she'd gotten from ...

Stop five: A very slippery room filled with artificial snow. That's right. Mrs. Claus said the snow was made from a combination of flour, water, and a secret formula imported from Japan. I don't know what the secret formula was, but the snow actually felt cold. It didn't melt. It was sort of a gel-like substance. It freaked me out a little bit, especially since it was slippery as heck and had already taken down Mrs. Claus, but the kids LOVED. THE. SNOW. If an elf hadn't gently reminded us an hour or so later that Santa needed to leave to feed his reindeer, we'd probably be there still.

Stop six: This is where I forked over WCK's college fund for a photo of her with Santa. Of course, she looks very cute in her picture with Santa. The two of us were able to go out for a nice lunch together, and I can promise her that we'll never have to speak to Santa again. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ups and downs

Do you have a child who is deathly afraid of riding on escalators?

Here is my warning to you: Do not rejoice too much when your child announces she is no longer afraid of riding on escalators. Do not rejoice when she happily rides up said escalator to the second floor of a store. Why? There is an excellent chance that once you are done shopping on the second floor and are ready to go home, the child will announce that, although she had no fear of the "up" escalator, she is still deathly afraid of the "down" escalator. The child will not waver in her fear, even after you point out repeatedly that it's the only way back downstairs, even after you stand there and watch several dozen people ride down the escalator and not die, even after complete strangers decide to gather 'round your child and join you in the explanation of how "down" escalators are not scary.

On a side note, I'd like to thank the kind staff at Dick's Sporting Goods for showing us how to find the elevator so that we didn't have to spend the night in the tent department.

Friday, December 11, 2009


We got our Christmas tree about a week ago. We always go out to a tree farm and chop down a real tree, strap it to the top of the car, and bring it home. This is what my family always did when I was growing up. I don't think I even knew fake trees existed until college. In all fairness to fake trees, there were a lot of things I didn't know existed until college, like, say, tequila.

Anyway, once I had my first apartment in college, I finally broke down and got a fake tree from Wal-Mart (and this would be the Wal-Mart in the neighboring town, since my college town was not yet cool enough to have a Wal-Mart at that time). I actually used that fake tree for a few Christmases. Then, the first year that Jay and I were married, our apartment's storage unit was overrun by mice and they pooped all over the fake tree and we had to throw it out. The mouse poop was 99 percent our fault, since we were storing the seed for our bird feeder in our storage unit in a plastic bag. I think the other 1 percent was a sign from the universe that one should never use a fake tree. Fake tree = plague of vermin from God. We've been using real trees ever since.

Back to last week: We brought home our tree and WCK and I spent about two hours decorating it. Later that afternoon, WCK and I were about to head out the door to go to a birthday party, when I thought the tree was looking a little crooked. Then -- wham -- the whole thing fell over.

Actually, it was partially stopped by a chair next to the tree, and by me leaping over to the tree to grab it and keep it from falling all the way. Of course, at the moment the tree fell, Jay was upstairs in the bathroom and couldn't hear my screams for help. WCK was standing around doing nothing, so I pleaded with her to please go upstairs and alert Daddy to the falling tree. She moved very slowly for someone whose mother is yelling and clinging to a Scotch pine for dear life, but she finally did make it up the stairs to knock on the bathroom door, after visiting every other room in the house first. This is why four-year-olds don't drive ambulances, fight fires, or report breaking news.

Jay finally made it downstairs, and we fixed the tree. The only casualty was my Miss Gulch ornament from my Hallmark Wizard of Oz collection. The wheels snapped right off of her bike, as did the little miniature Toto riding in the basket. I guess Toto was just trying to break free.

We've now gone six straight days without a tree collapse, which is a pretty good safety record if you ask me.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Santa was invented to get kids to go to bed

I know it's wrong, but one of the reasons I love December is that I can invoke the name of Santa to get my child to do anything. I always vowed I would never do this. Now I do it about every five minutes during the Advent season.

All other parents agree with me. You don't have to admit it out loud, but I know you do.

Just tonight, WCK was not cooperating with hair-washing in the bathtub.

"All right," I said calmly, rising to my feet and starting to walk out of the bathroom, "just let me get Santa on the phone."

"No!" shrieked WCK. "DO NOT CALL SANTA!" And she let me wash her hair.

A few nights ago, we were playing at a very fun place called Fun Run. The name of the place pretty much sums it up. It's one of those places with a bunch of inflatables to bounce on, cool play houses to climb in, etc. If that wasn't fun enough, Santa Claus showed up and all the kids went wild. WCK took a break from playing to have her turn on his lap and get her picture taken. After we'd been there for several hours, I told WCK multiple times that it was time to go home. She refused and kept right on running.

"Look, WCK," I said, "Santa is RIGHT OVER THERE. I will walk over to him RIGHT NOW and tell him you can't follow directions!"

And ... we were able to go home immediately.

I can't help but wonder what would have happened had she called my bluff. Would Santa have had a sense of humor about my reporting my daughter to him? Oh, I so deserve a lump of coal.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Dumbness, Part II

M-spike = 2.7.

All other numbers are good, so this is not terrible by any means, but it's still pretty dang dumb.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ring me slow

The only speaking role I've ever had in any type of theatrical production was in 1980, when I appeared as "Bell No. 1" in my kindergarten Christmas program. (Yes, back then public schools still had "Christmas" programs and nobody got sued).

Five of us were bells. We all wore big red bows and held triangles. The rest of the class said, "Five little bells, hanging in a row. The first bell said ..." That was my cue to step forward, ding my triangle, and say, "RING ME SLOW!"

Let me tell you, I totally nailed my line. I was the Meryl Streep of "Ring me slow." I was that bell, and everyone in the room believed that I wanted to ring. Slowly. My mom still brags to people about "Ring me slow". Unfortunately, this was the peak of my theatrical career. I never had another speaking role. I did play the dog catcher in a sixth-grade production of "Annie", but I didn't have any lines, and my dog-catching pantomime never quite reached the acting excellence that was "Ring me slow."

I've never been able to remember the rest of this bell poem. It took a lot of energy to concentrate on "Ring me slow." I do remember that one of the bells said, "I'm like a chime", because the "I'm like a chime" girl could never remember her lines during rehearsal. Finally one day she ad-libbed and said, "Ring me in China!" and she was immediately replaced. I believe she was banished to holding up a sign that said "Five Little Bells."

I've never heard the poem since. I've wondered if maybe the kindergarten teacher made it up because she needed to find parts in the Christmas program for five extra kids -- six, if you count the sign-holder.

Yesterday, WCK's Scholastic book order came in. I'd ordered her a CD and book with a whole bunch of Christmas songs and rhymes for kids. As I scanned the list of songs I saw -- yes!!!-- "Five Little Bells"! I rushed to find the track on the CD player and called WCK over. "Remember how I was a bell in my kindergarten play?" I said. WCK, of course, remembers. She has been hearing the "Ring me slow" story for years.

I played the rhyme for her, and she was pretty impressed for about a minute. Then she left to go do something else. I guess she doesn't appreciate the theater.

I'll post the complete rhyme, so it can live on through my blog:

Five little bells, hanging in a row.
The first one said, "Ring me slow."
The second one said, "Ring me fast."
The third one said, "Ring me last."
The fourth one said, "I'm like a chime."
The fifth one said, "Ring us all at Christmas time!"

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

FU, cancer!

I saw that our county health department is now giving out free H1N1 shots to people with chronic medical conditions, as long as you bring in an order from your doctor. They were previously only vaccinating children and pregnant women, so WCK has already had her first dose, but I've been waiting on my shot. I've read that it's highly recommended for myeloma patients, so I've always been planning to get one. Since I had to take WCK back to the health department to get her booster anyway, I asked Dr. GPO at my appointment this morning if he could write me a note. He told me I could just walk down the hall and get a shot, since the cancer center now had an ample supply of vaccine. Score!

I went down the hall and told the lady at the desk. She made a phone call and told me I couldn't have the shot because the insurance company wouldn't pay for it. Seriously?

Of course, it was totally fine, since I just took my order from Dr. GPO to the health department and got my shot for free, and WCK got her free booster. You just have to shake your head, though, at an insurance company that won't pay for flu shots for cancer patients. Wouldn't the shot be far less expensive than complications from the flu? But they're an insurance company. They don't have to make sense.

In other cancer center news, they now have a new, fancy appointment system where they give you a printout with all of the details of your next appointment. It lists the date, time, duration of the appointment, name of the doctor, and the reason for the appointment. Apparently the new form abbreviates "follow-up appointment", because under "Reason", it simply says, "FU."

Awesome. That's what I want to tell the cancer cells every day.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I did it!

First, the good news: I successfully completed National Blog Posting Month and met my goal of posting every day! Hurrah! Sure, there were a few close calls -- like the time when I resorted to posting a Joey McIntyre video -- but I made it! Yay for me!

The bad news: I didn't win a prize. Dang. I really needed a sock zombie. Maybe next year.

Part of me wants to see how long I can keep up the daily blogging streak. Another part of me is afraid that after a while, daily blogging would turn into a chore, rather than something I really enjoy. I might go back to skipping a few days here or there, but at least this November experiment has gotten me back into the habit of blogging. I'm hoping to do it more often than I have in the past, sock zombie or no sock zombie.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dear Future Karen

A letter to my future self, to be read in November 2010.

Dear Future Karen,

Remember your obsession with not preparing for Christmas before the actual Christmas season?

Well, it's stupid.

Think back to November 2009, Future Karen. Remember the week before Thanksgiving, when you spotted one of the toys WCK wanted for Christmas at Target? Remember how Target had tons and tons and tons of these toys? Remember how you had the opportunity to buy one, but you did not, simply because it was before Thanksgiving and it violated your policy of not buying Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving?

Now remember how you went back to Target on the Monday after Thanksgiving. That's right, Future Karen. Not one of these toys remained. You had to run around to three Targets, and finally ended up having to venture inside -- gulp -- Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, Future Karen! Wal-Mart! The toy was there, but you stood in the "express line" for what seemed like an hour, only to have the cashier mock your choice of gift for your child. (Note to others: It was a set of doll furniture, so I don't know why she was mocking it, other than the fact that she's a Wal-Mart cashier and probably unhappy with having to spend hours inside that God-forsaken place.)

I'm writing this, Future Karen, because this happens to you every year, but you always forget. Every year, you revert to your stubborn, no-shopping-before-Thanksgiving ways. If you don't want to drink eggnog or listen to carols before Thanksgiving, fine. Fine. I know I'm not going to change your mind. But start your shopping earlier, for the love of God! We were mocked by a Wal-Mart cashier today!

Help me, Future Karen. You're my only hope.

Present Karen

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankful: The complete list

A few posts ago, I mentioned our "Thanksgiving Tree." Every year, WCK and I draw a picture of a tree on a big piece of poster board, and then every night during November, Jay, WCK, and I write one thing we're each thankful for on a leaf and stick it to the tree. This year, WCK was able to write words on her leaves herself. Some of her words are perfectly readable; others needed me to put little "captions" under them when she wasn't looking so I'd remember what that leaf was supposed to say. The poster is full of leaves now, and I can tell you our complete list. I know we have even more to be thankful for than what's on this list, but this is what we came up with in November:

Granddaughters (that one was added by my dad when he was here)
My bed
Grandma Kathy
Good food
Sunny Days
Daughters who like Star Wars (Yeah, Jay put that one!)
Beer (That one, too!)
Football (Again, Jay.)
Grandma Marty
Grandpa Mike
Grandpa Mark
Uncle Pat
Aunt Kim
My house
That we don't have tapeworms!
WCK's school
Sunday school
Delicious apples
Friends at school
Uncle T.J.
Judy Garland
Frog (WCK's favorite stuffed animal)
Aunt Jenny
President Obama
Cousin A.
Cousin L.
Aunt Patty
Pepper -- the dog, not the kind you eat (WCK made me write it exactly that way)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Four more years! Four more years!

I'm writing this post in case someone recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma has stumbled across my blog. No doubt you've already been online for a while, reading a whole bunch of scary information and statistics, including the one about how you have three years to live. Well, here I am, and today is my fourth anniversary of being diagnosed, and I am perfectly fine. Fine.

I'm not cancer-free, and maybe I never will be cancer-free, but I am completely drug-free and also completely healthy, other than that pesky little spike in my blood. I feel perfectly normal. I exercise every day and chase around a four-year-old. My life is perfectly normal -- as long as you count driving around with a concrete goose in the back of my car "perfectly normal." I call myself "Cancer Girl", but I rarely feel like one. I spent two years on medication and, yes, the dex made me a little crazy and a lot tired and cranky, but really it could have been much worse, compared with what a lot of other cancer patients go through.

I have more than 10 million stem cells that have been sitting on ice for two years now (two years!!), and I hope those suckers never see the light of day again.

New developments in myeloma treatments are happening all the time. When I was first diagnosed, Revlimid was still in clinical trials. A year and a half later, when I needed it, it was approved by the FDA and ready for me.

I know I've been really, really lucky that my disease has so far been really lazy and non-aggressive, and I know myeloma is different in every patient. I know a lot of people need to launch a full-fledged attack on the disease right away. I just hope newly diagnosed patients find this and can know that it's possible for things to turn out OK.

Here I am, four years after being diagnosed with a "you'll-be-dead-in-three-years" disease, and I'm nowhere near death's door. I'm not even in death's driveway. Heck, right now I'd need a very fancy GPS to find death's neighborhood, and I'm not even sure I'd end up on the right street. I've never been very good with directions.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sloth vs. Armadillo

Today we were all fully recovered from our turkey comas, and we went to the Omaha zoo with my mom and dad. It was a great day for the zoo. Because WCK is obsessed with nocturnal animals, her favorite exhibit was "Kingdoms of the Night", which is an exhibit consisting of nothing but -- yes -- nocturnal animals. It's a really cool exhibit, and I am thankful there isn't space at the zoo devoted to her other obsession, because I don't think I could handle walking through "Kingdoms of the Tapeworm." But "Kingdoms of the Night" is great.

WCK said her favorite animal at "Kingdoms of the Night" was a sloth. My favorite animal was in the same enclosure as the sloth; it was a teeny little armadillo who kept zipping around and around the cage like a little windup car. It was like he felt he had somewhere extremely important to be. WCK and I thought this little guy was hilarious, but I wondered if the zookeeper who put the sloth and the armadillo in the same cage really thought it over beforehand. It seems like the two of them would drive each other insane, in an Odd-Couple sort of way.

Then I decided to look up armadillos on the Internet and I found out that armadillos and sloths are actually cousins. Shocking! Just think of it. All over the world, sloths and armadillos are forced to get together at least once a year for family reunions. All the way home, the sloths are muttering to each other, "All that running! We are not going back next year. We're not!" And that's a whole lot of complaining, because it probably takes them 30 hours just to crawl home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Fighting ... turkey ... coma. Must ... stay ... awake ... long ... enough ... to ... make ... today's ... blog ... post ... Must ... stay ... awake ... Must ... not ... collapse .... Must ... not ... adkfnadnafieawad

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's a Thanksgiving miracle!

Today we pulled into my parents' driveway, and we found this guy waiting for us:

My dad called around to some lawn ornament places, and he found a place that had one goose left.

It just goes to show you: If the Fairy Princess and God don't come through, Grandpa will.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bring back our goose!

Does everyone remember the traumatic goose theft last June? I tried to post a link to the old post about it, but it wasn't working. I'll sum up: For years, we had a very fabulous goose lawn ornament on our front porch that used to belong to my grandma. We dressed it up in various outfits. Then, some evil hooligans stole it right off of our porch. WCK was devastated. Devastated. So was I.

Yesterday, we went to see the Fairy Princess. The Fairy Princess is an old Kansas City tradition around Christmastime, although she always shows up in November so that Santa can take over after Thanksgiving. I feel it is OK to go see her before Christmas since she is not Santa. She is a fairy. (Fairies before Christmas are OK. I suppose.) She's a pretty teenage-ish girl who wears a beautiful gown, and kids can go sit on her lap and tell her their holiday wishes and get their picture taken, and then she gives them a crown to take home. Last year was the first year that WCK was brave enough to talk to the Fairy Princess, and now we love the Fairy Princess.

The Princess asked WCK if she had a holiday wish. Did WCK wish for a Hannah Montana doll? A DVD? A video game? No, WCK said she wished the people who stole our goose would bring it back.

Wait, it gets sadder.

Just now, I heard a tiny little voice coming from WCK's room:

"In the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. God? Can you bring back our goose? Can you tell the people who stole it to bring it back? Oh, thank you. Amen! In the name of the Father ..."

Oh, nothing like a little child's prayer to make you want to hunt down goose thieves and poke them in the eye. We have to get another goose.

Monday, November 23, 2009


When I'm not busy complaining about grammar, I'm busy complaining about people who put up their Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Fortunately for me, I really enjoy complaining. I'm an absolute joy to be around this time of year. Apparently, I've complained enough that I have brainwashed WCK. She becomes absolutely outraged now when she sees Christmas lights. If there's one thing four-year-olds are good at, it's becoming outraged.


I have taught you well, young padawan.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Grammar Patrol never lays down on the job

I love Nebraska Furniture Mart, but today I briefly considered never going back ever again when I saw a sign on top of a display bed: "Please do not lay on the display." Does Warren Buffett know about this?

While we're on the topic of Nebraska Furniture Mart, would someone please tell my husband that real furniture should not have cup holders in it? Thank you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Last November, I started a new tradition. WCK and I decorate a big piece of poster board to look like a tree, and I write "We are thankful for ..." inside the tree trunk. Then every day from the first of November until Thanksgiving, Jay, WCK, and I write one thing we're thankful for on a construction-paper leaf and stick it to the tree. WCK has been doing a great job of thinking of things to be thankful for (except maybe for the one day she said "elephants"). Tonight, though, she said she was thankful for ... try to guess ...

Yeah. She's thankful for tapeworms.

When it was my turn, I said I was thankful "that we don't have tapeworms."

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's a big, big world

I'm typing this while trying to watch "It's a Big, Big World" with WCK at the same time. WCK is insistent that I watch the show with her and don't look at the computer, so if you see any typos, then akdau'dsvna; v

"It's a Big, Big World" is a show on PBS that features creepy-looking animal puppets who live in the rain forest. The star is a giant sloth. Because it's one of the few shows that WCK will actually watch on TV, it's grown on me a little bit. (WCK watching TV = time for me to take a shower) From what I can tell when I'm not in the shower, the show is about science. Right now the creepy anteater is making a compost heap. Now there's a big musical number about the heap: "Some folks say it stinks; it doesn't bother me; I'm just doing something for the tree!" Not making this up.

A new season of "It's a Big, Big World" started the other day, and suddenly there was an adorable little baby sloth who lived with the big sloth. The baby sloth was not there before. I'm guessing the baby sloth was added to boost ratings, just as Cousin Oliver was added to The Brady Bunch when Cindy and Bobby weren't cute anymore. WCK tells me the big sloth is the baby sloth's dad, but where's the mom? Where's the mom? Did the big sloth have an affair since last season? If anyone knows the origin of the baby sloth, please let me know. I think about it a lot, especially when I'm in the shower.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bad Guy Forest

WCK is concerned with "bad guys". I could blame Jay for his Batman-adoring ways, but she has also become concerned with "killing people", and she got that from -- unbelievably -- Meet Me in St. Louis. Yeah. You would not believe how many times that movie mentions killing people. I couldn't believe it, and I've seen it 9,000 times. Everything looks different when you watch it with a four-year-old. I thought most of the killing references would go over WCK's head, but most of them come from Margaret O'Brien's character, 5-year-old Tootie, who WCK thinks is unbelievably cool. So now we're completely obsessed with killing. Thanks a lot, Meet Me in St. Louis! I guess I'll think twice before letting my child watch a heartwarming classic musical made in the 1940s!

Anyway. Today WCK was worried about what would happen if "bad guys" broke into our house, and she asked me if I would kill them. I said that I wasn't going to kill any bad guys, but I would certainly stop them from coming into the house. We don't have to worry about that anyway, I added, since there aren't any bad guys anywhere near our house. I told her they all live really far away.

"Do they all live in Illinois?" she asked.

Illinois is where her cousin lives, and I didn't want her to worry about her cousin having to deal with bad guys, so I told her that there weren't even any bad guys in Illinois. She insisted there were.

"When we were driving there, I saw a big sign," she said. "It said, 'Bad Guy Forest: Straight Ahead.'"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shot through the heart

When I was in junior high (sometime in 1987 or '88), a concert came to town that I really wanted to see. My mom and dad said no. The next day, every single person at school (or, maybe, like, three people, but it seemed like everyone) showed up wearing t-shirts from the concert and talking about how freaking awesome it was.

I have been bitter for 22 years.

But I am bitter no more! I say, HA, HA, MOM AND DAD!!! YOU CAN'T STOP ME NOW, MOM AND DAD!! I'M GOING TO BE UP PAST MY BEDTIME AND EVERYTHING! I have a ticket to see:

That's right. Bon Jovi. It's not until March, so I'm still a little scared my parents will find a way to stop me.

When WCK found out I was going to a concert, she announced that she really wanted to go, too. Like the generation before me, I had to tell her no. She cried. Then Jay said, "Oh, it's just a very old man singing. Do you want to go see a very old man singing?"

"Oh," WCK said, no longer crying. "Not really."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He's a man on a mission, baby

I was nearly in a panic tonight, because I couldn't think of something interesting to put up on my blog. Then I remembered that just this morning my friend Abigail sent me a link to Joey McIntyre's new video. Oh, thank goodness.

What's that, you say? You say this doesn't qualify as "something interesting"? I say, just watch, because you will learn several important things:

1. It is possible to sing in an emotional, anguished way while boxing.

2. Even if you are singing in a weird, robot voice.

3. Joey appears to be wearing the same hat he wore in "Hangin' Tough Live" in 1989.

4. But don't point that out, because he can beat you up. While singing. In a robot voice.

Also, now we can review the number of times a member of The New Kids on the Block has appeared shirtless on my blog. I believe the score stands at

Jordan Knight: 2

Joey McIntyre: 1

See? Interesting.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I have just passed the halfway point on my daily blogging project! In case you missed my initial post about it, I signed my blog up for National Blog Posting Month at If I can post every day for the whole month of November, I'm eligible to win a prize. Plus, I just want to see if I can do it.

I'd say the advantage of posting every day is that I can take a look back and really see everything I've been doing during November. Over the past 15 days, I've gotten a good report from Mayo, WCK became a superhero, Garland had her official coronation ceremony, Jay was accused of wearing a diaper, a witch broke into our house, and I got a blog comment from the vice-president of the Taco Bueno corporation. I couldn't have imagined any of this on Nov. 1. I can't wait to see what the rest of the month brings.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

All hail Queen Garland

Our cat, Garland, is a very good sport. She was eight years old when WCK was born, which means she spent eight years living a very peaceful life.

Then we went and ruined everything by bringing home this mysterious tiny person who made a lot of noise. Just as Garland was adapting to the noise, the tiny person began to crawl and chase her everywhere. Garland was very good about it. Really, WCK could probably be covered in scratches right now because she messes with Garland so much, but Garland has never raised a paw to WCK. Garland is very, very patient.

Need proof?

I was told that she was a queen. Notice how she has closed her eyes in shame.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley!

Yesterday was an important day, because WCK watched her first classic MGM musical and her first Judy Garland movie. It was:

Nobody believes me, but she picked it out on her own. I think she was expecting to see the St. Louis Arch at some point, but she sat through the entire two hours without complaint. Now she says she'll watch Easter Parade with me, but not until Easter time. Score!

Friday, November 13, 2009

This post brought to you by the letter F

WCK's preschool class studied the letter F last week. Everyone had a "Family Feet" homework assignment to do. Each family member had to trace one of his or her feet onto a piece of paper, decorate it with eyes, nose, a mouth, etc., and then cut them out and paste them all together onto another piece of paper. As you will see, WCK and I made perfectly respectable Foot People, but Daddy went a little nuts and turned his foot into Batman:

WCK found this hilarious, not necessarily because the foot was Batman, but because it looks like Batman is wearing a diaper. It's a pretty saggy diaper, if you ask me. I found out the other day that the kids take turns telling the other children about their Family Foot Portrait. "I told Noah that Batman was wearing a diaper!!!!" shrieked WCK.

I'm wondering if this will come back to haunt us. I'm imagining all of the other kids going home and announcing to their parents that WCK's daddy wears a diaper.

"No, really," they'll say. "I saw a picture of his diaper at school."

It's a good thing that Jay is Batman, so at least he has the skills to get a good job in another town, and we can just move.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Princess Bride

ME (In a stern voice): If you scream like that one more time, WCK, you are going straight to bed! AND I MEAN IT!

WCK (Grinning impishly): Anybody want a peanut?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'll be lovin' them forever

Can you believe it? It's already been a year since the New Kids on the Block concert. I know all of you have been thinking about it nonstop. Tonight at 8 p.m., I plan to observe a moment of silence. Perhaps I will light a candle. Perhaps I will wave it over my head, Hangin' Tough-style. Perhaps I will sing mournfully to myself. "Listen up, everybody, if you wanna take a chance ... Just get on the floor and do the New Kids dance ..."

I know I've slacked off a little on posting my monthly videos, but I searched YouTube for something special for today. I discovered that there are tons of videos on YouTube from the actual Kansas City concert, and I decided on this one. I chose it, not because it's the greatest quality video, but because the person who posted it wrote this interesting description:

"I taped this in Kansas City at the Sprint Center. Makes me smile every time I see it. At about 0:30, Jon says something to Danny, and whatever he says makes Jordan get this funny look on his face and turn to Joe. Jon's laughing, Danny's smiling. Joe starts smiling/laughing, and then watch Donnie, how he gives Joe a nudge wanting to know what's so funny. I just wish I knew what Jon said!!!!"

Yeah, me too!!!! With four exclamation points!!!! I think we should have a contest to see who can come up with the best suggestion for what Jon said. The winner gets, oh, I don't know ... a superhero cape fashioned from a Taco Bueno bag. Or at least instructions on how to make your own cape at home.

Also, this video doesn't exactly capture my experience at the concert because this person had much, much better seats than I did. Next time, people. Next time!!!! With four exclamation points!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My super girl

We were at the park the other day, and WCK found a plastic bag from Taco Bueno hanging in a tree. She went to throw it into the trash -- because she loves throwing away litter -- and then she realized she could loop the handles over her shoulders for an excellent superhero cape. It was pretty windy that day, so the way the plastic bag billowed off of her back was quite dramatic. I knew I should probably stop my daughter from running around with a piece of trash on her back, but it looked so danged fun.

So there she was, rushing around the park, Taco Bueno bag waving in the breeze, having the time of her life. She was approached by two little girls who, you could tell, would never be caught dead running around the park in a trash-bag superhero cape, who, in fact, wore hair bows that perfectly coordinated with their spotless, non-grass-stained outfits from GapKids. These are the girls who will decide which lunch table is the cool table in high school.

"You're not a superhero," they told her.

"Yes, I am!" said WCK cheerfully.

"That's not even a cape," said the Gap girls. "It's just a bag."

"It is a cape," said WCK, completely at ease with her trash-bag-wearing ways, not the least bit intimidated by anyone who told her she couldn't be a superhero. And she flew off again, ready to save the day.

Do I have the coolest kid in the whole entire world, or what?

Monday, November 09, 2009

The vacuum doesn't suck!

Two important dates in our lives:

November 7, 2009: WCK announces she is no longer afraid of the car wash OR the vacuum cleaner. Karen and WCK drive through the car wash and finally clean the bird poop off of the windshield.

November 8, 2009: Karen successfully vacuums the entire house while WCK calmly plays by herself.

This is a huge deal. WCK has been absolutely petrified of the vacuum cleaner for a really long time. Vacuuming was nearly impossible, unless she was at preschool. At other times, Jay and I would actually have to schedule times to vacuum so that one of us could vacuum and the other one could keep WCK distracted so that she didn't have a nervous breakdown.

It wasn't always this way. Before WCK was born, Jay and I read about unconventional ways to calm down a screaming baby, including running the vacuum. Because we'd never actually had a baby and therefore felt we knew everything about taking care of a baby, we laughed at this idea. Who would actually do this? Fast forward to 5 a.m. on the morning after WCK came home from the hospital, and we realized we had no idea how to stop our baby from screaming. Jay even took her for a 3 a.m. stroller ride on the lawn. Finally, we looked at each other, and we knew what we had to do.

"Get the vacuum cleaner," I said.

And it worked. It was a miracle. We'd switch on the vacuum, and WCK would quit screaming, mid-scream, and instantly calm down. We ran that sucker pretty much nonstop for a couple of months.

Sometime between babyhood and toddlerhood, however, she developed an intense fear of the vacuum. On the plus side, I always got out of cleanup duty at our moms' group meetings, because WCK would always run for the door as soon as the vacuums came out.

I'm also very grateful that she's over her fear of the car wash, but this new vacuum attitude ... It's going to change our lives.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Doughnuts and jewelry

This morning, our church had a "Holiday Gift Mart", with lots of booths where you could buy crafty-type items, a bake sale, a raffle, and so on. Usually I shun anything holiday-related until after Thanksgiving, but the diabolical evil geniuses in charge of the Holiday Gift Mart (also known as the ladies of the Altar and Rosary Society) had moved the post-church doughnuts to the area where the gift mart was being held, so if you wanted a doughnut, you were forced to attend the gift mart as well. They also posted cute, cookie-selling Girl Scouts at the door. Diabolical, I tell you!

If you'll recall, I use the doughnuts as a bribe to get WCK to stay in Sunday School, so I can use church as a peaceful, reflective time to compose blog posts in my head. I mean, pray. Plus, I really like doughnuts. So we had to attend the gift mart.

It turned out to be fun, and the highlight was the "Kids' Store." Only kids are allowed to shop in the Kids' Store, where adult volunteers help them pick out gifts for their parents and wrap them. This way, the parents are surprised and the kids get to pick out gifts all by themselves. The gifts are all small items that people have donated.

WCK was absolutely thrilled that she got to shop all by herself. She picked out a present for me and one for Jay. She was just glowing as she walked out with her presents. I think it was the highlight of her life.

The only downside, of course, is that today is Nov. 8, which in Kid Time is approximately 25 years before Christmas Morning. I suggested that we wait until Christmas, but WCK was so excited that she couldn't even wait until after lunch, and she made us open the gifts right away. Jay got a picture frame for his desk at work, and I got a stretchy gold and silver bracelet. It's a little bit itchy, and I swear I saw Betty wearing the exact same one on Ugly Betty, but it reminds me of WCK's glowing little eyes, so I think I will wear it every day for the rest of my life.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Brave 4-year-old Accuses Witch in Pony Attack

Kansas City, Mo. -- The bodies of several "My Little Pony" dolls were discovered in a Kansas City home late yesterday afternoon, their tails and manes completely severed. A pair of scissors was found at the scene.

The only eyewitness, 4-year-old WCK of Kansas City, told authorities that she had absolutely nothing to do with the pony-cutting; in fact, the ponies were the victim of a mysterious witch who broke into her home. WCK was alone in her bedroom at the time and later recounted the entire event to her mother, who took detailed notes.

"I was busy resting when I heard a knock at the door," WCK said. "It was the witch. She ran out the door to get some scissors and then she cut the ponies."

WCK says she desperately tried to save the ponies.

"I said, 'NO, WITCH!' a lot of times," she said. "I got louder and louder, but she didn't hear me."

As WCK thought more about the incident, she recalled an interesting twist to the story: The witch had an accomplice.

"I saw a vampire come in, too," WCK said. "He was helping the witch. He was almost going to ruin a different toy. Then he saw a bat and ran out the door to play with the bat. The witch didn't see the vampire leave."

Authorities are asking parents to be on the lookout for the pony-clipping witch. She was described as "mad and mean." She had white hair and a green face and was wearing a black witch dress, black shoes, and a "regular witch hat." She may have been carrying a broom.

WCK's mother says parents should take away their children's ponies and perhaps caution Santa Claus against bringing any more toys so they can't be damaged by the witch. WCK, however, believes that this is a drastic step and insists that there will be no further witch attacks.

"She also wanted to shoot fire at me and turn me into a witch, too," she said. "But I fought her with a stuffed animal, and then I melted her. She will not be back, because she is melted."

Friday, November 06, 2009


Pretty good news from Mayo. My M-spike came back at 2.4, and my IgG levels (which tend to follow the M-spike) are still pretty stable, even compared to tests done a year ago. Ol' Spike was 2.5 in early October, so at least I've had a stable M-spike for a month now. Dr. H says she's seen people have a jump in their M-spike, like I did last month, and then hit a plateau and level off for a long time. Let's hope that's what's happening to me. All of my other numbers were really good. I even have a normal level of white cells for the first time in I don't know how long. Years, maybe.

Keep eating those nachos, Spike!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Blood royalty

Here we are at Mayo. I've already given up my blood. We're scheduled to meet with the doctor in about an hour or so.

They've changed around the blood area here at Mayo. In the past, everyone who needed to get blood taken would get to pass through a set of festive purple doors into our very own blood-draw waiting room. It was just another waiting room, but no non-blood draw people were allowed in, so it made you feel a little special. Now, we get to wait out in the regular lobby like everyone else. I'm not sure if this is a permanent thing or what, but it did look like the old blood room had some remodeling going on. I'm hoping a new, improved blood room is coming soon. I don't want to wait out on the regular waiting room like a commoner when I am clearly Blood Royalty. Maybe the new blood room will have big-screen TVs and a waitstaff serving drinks with umbrellas in them. Even if it doesn't, I'll tell everyone that it does.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Have some nachos, Spike

In a little while, Jay and I are headed off to the north for my six-month Mayo checkup with Dr. H tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be uneventful and we'll find out that Spike has decided to calm down since last month. Maybe he's feeling sluggish, just lying around watching Oprah and eating nachos. And he's not watching one of those inspiring, call-to-action episodes of Oprah, either. It's, like, a boring one where a celebrity is promoting a really bad movie that Oprah claims to love.

And they're not good, spicy nachos. They're, like, soggy, Taco Bell nachos.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tapeworm parade

WCK is obsessed with ... tapeworms.

That's right. She has a really cool kids' encyclopedia with lots of big, colorful photos, and one of the big, colorful photos is a lovely close-up of a tapeworm. The photo totally creeps me out, and I once made the mistake of telling WCK how yucky and creepy I thought it was. WCK found this hilarious. She loves the fact that I apparently hate tapeworms. Really, I had never thought about tapeworms much before, and I have never encountered one in the wild, but you have to understand that this photo is really, really creepy.

Now WCK brings up tapeworms about 1,000 times a day.

You think I exaggerate. Typical conversations at our house go like this:

WCK: Mommy, do you know what tomorrow is?
ME: What?
WCK: It's TAPEWORM DAY! We will have a tapeworm parade and eat tapeworm food and just celebrate TAPEWORMS!

Sometimes I'll be trying to fix dinner with a little voice behind me: "Mommy, there is a tapeworm on your head! Ha ha! Now it is on your ear! Now it's on your arm! Ha ha, Mommy! Aren't you scared of the tapeworm?"

She also composed an original song: "Who likes tapeworms? NO ONE! Who likes tapeworms? NO ONE!" (repeat)

And, of course, you can't beat, "Knock, knock!" "Who's there?" "A TAPEWORM!"

Her teachers haven't mentioned it to me yet, but I'm sure the endless tapeworm dialogue goes on at school. The other day WCK told me that they played "Simon Says" at Sunday school.

"When it was my turn," she said, "I told everyone to TOUCH THEIR TAPEWORM!"

I'm waiting for a concerned-teacher phone call any day now.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Please let the pumpkins rot

I found out this morning that two Kansas City radio stations are already playing Christmas music. I realize that this happens every year, and every year I complain bitterly about it. Bitterly. I know I'm perhaps a bit extreme in my "no Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving" rule, which I impose upon my entire family. I know some people do like to get started a little bit early. I know this.

But still. This early??!?! Is there anyone who wants to hear "Jingle Bells" while they're still eating Halloween candy? While there are still orange leaves on the trees? Before the Jack-o-lanterns have even had the chance to rot? Is there anyone who really enjoys Christmas music on Nov. 2? Anyone?

Humph. Anyway. Speaking of Jack-o-lanterns, here are the ones we carved this year, which are still on our front porch and have not yet started to rot. Do you hear me, Kansas City radio stations? No pumpkins rotting here!

Sorry they're a little blurry, but it's always hard for me to get good Jack-o-lantern photos. They're a kitty, a face, and a little monster:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hot dogs, mummy hot dogs

Here's what I made for our Halloween meal. Don't laugh when I say they're supposed to be mummies:

They're hot dogs wrapped in strips of Pillsbury crescent roll dough and then baked. I think that part turned out OK, although the third mummy from the left looks a little bit bloated. It was when I tried to make eyes and a mouth with ketchup that everything went awry. Maybe I could say that they're just super creepy mummies with blood seeping from their bandages. Jay decided to put chili all over his and say that his mummy was climbing out of the dirt. Do mummies even crawl out of the dirt? These are mummies, not zombies from the Thriller video. Aren't they all inside perfectly neat and tidy ancient tombs? Way to kill my historical accuracy, Jay!

Anyway, I also made veggies with Green Slime (spinach dip) and the mini-pumpkin fruit cups that I made last year. I figured that we could all afford to stock up on some fruit and vegetables before the candy onslaught.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mmmm ... eyeballs

WCK was up at the crack of dawn this morning; technically, I'd say it was before the crack of dawn since it was still pitch black outside. She's beside herself with excitement over Halloween. She's already running around in a witch's hat, and she told me I should make something called "Eyeball Casserole." I Googled it, and it is a real thing (you use balls of cheese as the eyeballs), but WCK announced that she has her own recipe, and she wanted me to type it up:

One spinach
One carrot
One egg
One apple
18 eyeballs
Stir and mix
Put it in the oven for 10 minutes.
When the oven rings, then it is done.
It will look slimy and good to eat.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bad blogger!

I haven't been blogging much lately, and I don't really have a good excuse. I've been a little ticked off at my M-spike, but I shouldn't take it out on my poor blog. To make amends, I went a little crazy and signed my blog up for National Blog Posting Month. This means that through the entire month of November, I have to post every single day. I've registered my blog with, so if I meet my goal, I will be eligible to win some fabulous prizes. Really, they aren't that fabulous (the best prize on the list so far is a "Sock Zombie", which I guess is like a sock monkey, only it's ... a zombie), but they're still prizes.

This new goal means I am going to have to make room in my hectic schedule for daily blogging. This means cutting out other important stuff in my day, like my compulsion to check Facebook every five seconds to find out that people I barely remember from high school are playing Mafia Wars. It's going to be tough, but I think I can do it. I really want that sock zombie.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Making mountains out of molehills

Jay spent the entire summer engaged in serious warfare with the moles that kept ripping up our back yard. He tried everything, including a whole bunch of these metal posts that you stick into the ground. Supposedly, these posts emit a sound that drives the moles away. Our theory is that the sound just enraged the moles and made them rip up the yard even more while seeking their revenge. It was either that, or they enjoyed the noise and were dancing to it with wild abandon. In the end, Jay forked over a giant sum of money to a professional mole-trapping company. WCK and I would eagerly watch out the window every time the Mole Guy came by. In the end, the Mole Guy was only able to trap one mole. I'm sure he took it away to a nurturing Mole Resort and Spa, where the mole is living out the rest of his days in peace and harmony.

Fast forward to today. Jay and I went to parent-teacher conferences at WCK's preschool, where we got to take a look at some of WCK's work. During the first week of school, everyone had to draw a picture of their family and then tell the teacher one thing about their family, which the teacher wrote on the back of the paper. WCK's teacher said most kids responded with things like, "My mommy reads books to me," or "We all like to go to Worlds of Fun together."

WCK's summary of our family life? "My daddy is angry because we have moles in our back yard."

It's funny 'cause it's true.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Go, Daddy!!

Jay ran his first full marathon this morning, and he did a great job. WCK and I were at the finish line to cheer him on:

Monday, October 12, 2009


M-spike = 2.5.

That's all I can say about it right now. I can't even bring myself to discuss it. It's too dumb.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Miracle Doughnut

We're Catholic, which means our church does not offer daycare. You have to bring your kids to church with you, which -- especially when they're around two years old -- is just as exhausting as it sounds. When you tell this to parents who belong to other denominations, they gasp in horror and quietly say a little prayer for you, because they can't imagine your suffering.

However, our church offers a Sunday School program for kids ages four and up. Jay and I have been dreaming of the Sunday School program for, oh, four years now, picturing the day when we could attend church peacefully by ourselves and secretly laugh at all of the poor, unfortunate souls who had to attend church with children under four.

"Ha, ha, HA!" we would say, watching their children throw Cheerios and climb under the pews and scream, "DO WE GET TO GO HOME NOW???" right after communion. We'd watch all the little old ladies glare at other couples instead of at us, knowing those days were far, far in our past.

Last week was the first day of Sunday School. We walked WCK to the classroom, and she immediately launched into Full Freakout Mode. She was crying, shaking, and clinging to us for dear life. It was like we were casting her into the depths of Hell instead of leaving her in a cheerful-looking classroom with a very sweet teacher and a group of smiling children who were singing, "If You're Happy and You Know It." We gave up and took her to church with us.

This morning, again, we walked her to the Sunday School class. Jay was ready to waver, but I was NOT going to give up on my four-year dream of Sunday School. We told WCK that if she decided to attend Sunday School, we'd all go get a doughnut in the church basement afterwards. When we got to the classroom, however, WCK again launched into Full Freakout Mode. We gave up, apologized to the teacher, and began walking toward the church with WCK in tow.

"Do I still get a doughnut?" she asked.

"No," I said. "The doughnut was only if you went to Sunday School."

WCK instantly whirled around, marched back to the classroom, threw on her cross-shaped name tag, sat down at a little desk and began coloring pictures of Jesus. That was the last we saw of her for one very peaceful hour. When we came to pick her up, WCK reported that she LOVED Sunday School and can't wait to go back.

With doughnuts, all things are possible.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Back in my old college-newspaper days, EOF stood for "Error of Fact". Turns out that I EOFed big time (yes, you can use EOF as a verb) with my Munchkin photos. A nice visitor to my blog pointed out that the Munchkin I labeled as Margaret Pellegrini was actually Myrna Swenson, wife of Munchkin Clarence Swenson.

In my defense, I did think that Margaret Pellegrini looked quite different from the last time that I saw her, and she wasn't wearing her Munchkin costume, like she usually does, but I went down the Munchkin list and couldn't figure out who else it could be. I'd also heard a rumor in the autograph line that Margaret had had a stroke, but I wasn't sure if it was true. Turns out that it was, unfortunately. I am so embarrassed for getting my Munchkins wrong. Thank you, anonymous reader!

The same reader also wrote, "The munchkin that had to leave was Ruth Duccini. She is blind in one eye so they asked people to not use flash photography, but some did anyway and it got to her."

Seriously?? Who would do that? Only a truly evil person would flash their camera at a camera-sensitive Munchkin. Now I'm all worked up.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Return of the church van

It's official: I've been declared immortal by a medical professional.

This morning, Dr. GPO told me very enthusiastically -- and these were his exact words -- "YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO DIE!!!!"

Dr. GPO talks with a lot of capital letters and exclamation points. You gotta love Dr. GPO.

"Um," I said, "never?"

We both thought this was pretty funny. "I meant you'll never die of myeloma," he said. "You'll probably get run over by a church van first."

Again with the church van! I am now very, very paranoid about church vans. If your church is planning any kind of a trip, can you please contact me and let me know so that I can stay locked inside my home for the following 24 hours?

Anyway, all of my blood counts were good, and I'll get the M-spike results in a few days, probably next week. The cancer center was all out of flu shots, so I drove over to Target and got one at the pharmacy. I also found out that the myeloma qualifies me for the swine flu vaccine once it becomes available. I think what I really need is a church-van vaccine.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Toto-ly Ozsome

Warning: Evidence of my complete Wizard of Oz nerdiness ahead.

On Saturday, Jay, WCK, and I traveled to Wamego, Kansas for the town's annual "Oztoberfest". Wamego is a tiny little town about 90 minutes from Kansas City with an incredible Wizard of Oz museum. Every October, the town also throws a huge Oz-themed festival. Guests of honor included four of the surviving Munchkins, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, and a couple of world-renowned Judy Garland experts.

I'd never been to Wamego before, so I was very excited. The museum was amazing. I could have spent an entire day there, reading all of the nerdy descriptions on all of the artifacts and spending WCK's entire college fund in the gift shop. I got a couple of t-shirts, a new sign for my Oz-themed bathroom, and a Christmas ornament. The museum displays included life-sized re-creations of all of the characters and scenery. You actually get to walk through the Haunted Forest on the way to the witch's castle, and it truly feels like you're in the Haunted Forest. I do believe in spooks! I do believe in spooks!

We also visited the Oz Winery and bought a bottle of "O.E.O" wine (Get it? It has a picture of the witch's guards on the label) and some Oz Winery wine glasses, and we had dinner at "Toto's Tacoz". In between, we stood in line to get autographs from the Munchkins.

And we stood in line, and stood in line, and stood in line. We spent the entire afternoon standing in line, and the line never moved.

I missed out on all of the Judy Garland lectures because I was standing in line. At one point, I actually saw John Fricke pass by on the street. John Fricke, people!

Yeah, I know nobody knows who John Fricke is. Nobody but me would be impressed by being passed on the street by John Fricke, but he's probably the world's leading expert on Judy Garland, so he's kind of one of my personal heroes. I want to be John Fricke when I grow up, or, at the very least, John Fricke's assistant. Just let me open your mail, John Fricke! Let me get you some coffee! I really regret that I didn't snap a paparazzi-like photo of him.

Anyway. After about three hours of standing in line, when we were three people from the front of the line, the guy in charge came out and announced that the Munchkins were exhausted and had to stop signing autographs promptly at 5 p.m., and that we were not going to get in. This man was obviously hired to protect the Munchkins, and he was not messing around.

"I've already had one Munchkin go down today," he said. "I'm not going to let it happen again."

It's true. Four Muchkins walked into that autograph session, but only three walked out. I don't know what happened to the fourth. I hope she's OK.

He told the crowd that we were all welcome to come back the next day, and that he'd mark our bracelets so we'd get priority admission. Our little family was not able to come back the next day, so we didn't get our autographs. Disappointing, yes, but

a) I already have autographs from all of the Munchkins that were there, plus two others.

b) I really didn't want to be responsible for another Munchkin "going down." I understand the need to protect the Munchkins. They're the last surviving link to the greatest movie of all time, and they've got to be pushing 90 years old. If the Official Munchkin Wrangler says that signing one more autograph could potentially kill them, I take that warning very seriously.

c) How cool is it that we were told to "Go away, and come back tomorrow!" just like the guard at the Emerald City told Dorothy in the movie? How cool is that???

The Official Munchkin Wrangler told us that, as a consolation prize, the Munchkins would step out onto the balcony of the theater where they'd been signing autographs and wave at the crowd. They'd also walk past us on the red carpet on the way to their cars.

"I'll be sure to tell them to walk very slowly," said Munchkin Wrangler, and then he stopped to think about it. "Yeah, they all walk very slowly anyway. It'll be fine."

So we waited and waited some more, and finally the Munchkins -- along with L. Frank Baum's grandson -- appeared on the balcony. The crowd -- all of us who had been sticking it out the entire afternoon -- went wild. Even though we'd been through a lot over the course of the afternoon, I was amazed by how many people stuck around and by how sweet and respectful the crowd was toward the Munchkins, except for the one guy who yelled at Jerry Maren, "THROW THE LOLLIPOP!"

He didn't throw the lollipop, although that would have been pretty cool.

Then the Munchkins were down on the red carpet (walking slowly) and they got into their cars and were whisked away. Oztoberfest was over. I told Jay that I have a whole strategy for getting our autographs next year. Jay's loving response: "WE HAVE TO GO BACK NEXT YEAR??!?!?"

Yes, a good time was had by all.

Now, some photos:

The Munchkins rode to and from autograph sessions in these little cars:

Ruby slipper cookies:

If I owned a dog, I would totally do this:

Where was the lion? It was never explained:

The Witch entertained the crowd waiting for Munchkin autographs. She tormented this little boy for a good five minutes, and he remained completely oblivious:

Myrna Swenson, and L. Frank Baum's great-grandson and his wife:

Lollipop Guild representative Jerry Maren and his wife. Jerry is the one who handed Judy Garland the lollipop in the movie:

Myrna Swenson on the red carpet:

The crowd snapping photos of Jerry Maren:

Munchkin Karl Slover stopped for a minute to talk to the crowd:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two wives down, four to go

For the past month or so, I've become completely and utterly obsessed with the TV show "The Tudors" on DVD. This is a soap-opera-like series based on the life of King Henry VIII and his six wives. It is completely trashy, and yet you don't notice any of the trashiness because everyone is wearing fancy costumes and speaking in English accents and murmuring about going to war with France and signing treaties (when they're not flinging their clothes off or taunting the Pope or beheading each other), so you can convince yourself it is actually highly educational and not trashy. It is trashy-cational.

I finally finished season two, and I'm actually a little bit relieved that season three is not yet on DVD, so that I can have my life back for a little while. I'm not sure if I remember how to live a normal, non-Tudors life. I'm going to have to try.

After each episode, I'd find myself running to Wikipedia to find out more. I'd find myself talking back to the TV, as though talking to the TV would not only influence the plot, but could change things that actually happened 500 years ago.

"Take the oath!!!" I said. "JUST TAKE THE DANG OATH!!!"

Thomas More did not listen to me. And look what happened to him. Seriously, don't talk to me about Thomas More. I've been upset for days. I just can't take it.

Anyway. If Wikipedia is right (and it always is), then "The Tudors" is fairly accurate, although there are a few errors. For example, here is the real Henry VIII:

Here is "The Tudors" Henry VIII:

Historical accuracy is highly overrated.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Important moments

Our little family had some big achievements over the weekend. First, Jay went to Omaha and ran his first half-marathon! He finished with a good time, and we're very proud of him.

While Jay was away on Sunday, WCK and I went grocery shopping at Hy-Vee. As we walked down the spaghetti-sauce aisle, WCK announced that her tooth had fallen out. Sure enough, she had the little tooth in her hand! Several other shoppers witnessed the big event and were able to congratulate her, too. It was very exciting. We had to go to the cheese department for a slice of congratulatory cheese. (OK, we always go to the cheese department for the free slice of cheese, but on Sunday it felt like it was special cheese.)

WCK put the tooth under her pillow last night, and this morning it had vanished. The Tooth Fairy left a card in a special pink envelope decorated with fairy stickers and WCK's name in silver letters. Inside were four gold dollar coins, a nice letter from the Tooth Fairy, and a sprinkling of fairy-dust confetti. The fairy also left a gift bag, and inside was a tube of Hannah Montana toothpaste. I thought the toothpaste gift was really exciting, but it was not such a big hit with WCK. In fact, she saw the toothpaste before she realized the Tooth Fairy had also left her some money, and she was nearly in tears that the fairy had left her such a lame gift.

Really? Four-year-olds don't think that tubes of toothpaste are exciting gifts? I will have to talk to the Tooth Fairy about this.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bucket of spaghetti

A drive-through Italian restaurant just opened in Kansas City, and it sells spaghetti by the bucket. Seriously. A bucket. It's like a one-gallon ice-cream bucket filled with spaghetti. Jay has been absolutely thrilled by the idea of the spaghetti in a bucket, because he always loves feeling that he got a "deal". For $19.99, you get the spaghetti bucket, a second bucket filled with sauce and meatballs, an entire loaf of garlic bread, and a giant box of salad.

Last weekend we were pretty excited to get the bucket deal, never mind that we're a tiny family of three and one of us weighs 37 pounds, never mind that this bucket deal is probably a glaring symbol of everything that's wrong with America. We wanted the bucket. The three of us ate our fill of spaghetti, and the bucket still appears to be completely full. I swear, no matter how much we eat, the level of spaghetti in the bucket does not go down. My two scientific theories are 1) It's an enchanted bucket that refills itself or 2) The noodles are constantly giving birth to more noodles. Do they reproduce asexually, like Jabba the Hutt? We don't know.

I've given up on eating the spaghetti, but Jay continues to eat the leftovers, trying to get the most out of the spaghetti deal. We have no room in our fridge anymore, because the fridge has been taken over by the buckets. Remember the time Homer Simpson became obsessed with an enormous sub sandwich and kept it for months and months until he could finish eating it? It's exactly like that.

I'll update you next month and let you know if the noodle level has gone down.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I was wrong about the demonic babies

They're not demonic babies. They're "zombie babies". In case you still don't believe me:

WARNING: Do not click unless you are sure you want to see this. Once you've seen a zombie baby, you will never remember a time in your life when you hadn't seen a zombie baby. And if your husband goes out of town for work, any little creak in your house at 2 a.m. will obviously be a group of zombie babies breaking into your house to eat your eyeballs.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vat of demonic rubber babies

Every year around mid-September, a "Halloween Superstore" opens in a strip mall near our house. Every year around mid-September, WCK starts begging to go to "the scary, spooky store", even though it is, quite frankly, terrifying. The same child who ran screaming from the room because she thought "The Tinkerbell Movie" was too scary actually wants to go browse the selection of disembodied limbs and talking zombies and giant rats and bloody skulls. Are you in need of an evil clown or a three-foot furry spider or a portrait of the Mona Lisa that turns into a portrait of a skeleton when you walk past it? Of course you are! Go to the Halloween Superstore! They have everything.

Do you wonder about the people who work at the disembodied-limbs factory? I do.

Anyway. We didn't have anything going on yesterday afternoon, so I decided that, yes, we could go to the Spooky Store. I've accepted that WCK is not going to change her mind about being Hannah Montana for Halloween, so I thought we'd check to see if the store had any costumes that cost less than the ones we've found online. The one positive side of WCK wanting to be Hannah Montana is that one of HM's many outfits is a pink puffy dress, and WCK has actually agreed that she will wear this dress. Usually, WCK is opposed to anything puffy and pink. This might be my only chance to see WCK in a pink puffy dress for decades, so I am grabbing my opportunity.

We ended up having a pretty good time at the Spooky Store. The best part was when WCK broke out dancing to "Witchy Woman" (or, as Jerry Seinfeld called it, "Witch-CHAY Woman"). I tried to keep us mostly in the little-girl-costume section and away from the really scary stuff, although some of the little-girl costumes were pretty scary. They all start to look somewhat hooker-ish by the time girls get to be about nine. Really, costume industry? Really?

We also passed by a vat of demonic rubber babies. It's exactly what it sounds like. And "Vat of Demonic Rubber Babies" would make an excellent name for a band.

In the end, the Spooky Store did not have the pink dress, but they did have Hannah Montana wigs on clearance, for half the price that I've seen online. We had to get one, because everyone knows that you can't have a Hannah Montana costume without the wig. WCK could not wait to try it on when we got home, running up the stairs to the mirror and proclaiming, "I AM SO HAPPY! I AM SO HAPPY!" She looked a little bit like a blonde Cousin It with bangs, but WCK's happiness cancels out the creepiness of the wig. I told her that we have to put the wig away in the closet so that it doesn't get all messy before Halloween, and she agreed. Mostly, I do not want to have to go back to the Halloween store to get a fresh one, because I'm a little scared of running into those demonic babies again.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Field trip!

WCK went on her very first school field trip on Wednesday. The class went to a farm, and all of the parents were invited to come along too. When we got the permission slip a couple of weeks ago, it said that the kids could either ride the bus or ride with their own parents, but the parents were not allowed on the bus and had to drive on their own. WCK was actually very gung-ho about riding the bus and could not stop talking about the bus until about five minutes before she had to board said bus, and then she informed her teacher and me that she was not getting on that bus.

The teacher and I decided not to push it, although I did drive through the parking lot where a crowd of mothers had gathered, and I spotted the moms of two of WCK's good preschool buddies. They told me that both of their children were riding the bus. I reported back to WCK that Friend A and Friend B were both on the bus. Didn't she want to ride the bus?

No, she said. She was not getting on that bus. At least she doesn't cave in to peer pressure. I hope she remembers the Bus Incident when all of her friends are smoking marijuana.

Anyway. I ended up driving her to the farm, which was fine, since I was going there anyway. I did feel a little sad that she missed her first bus experience, but, secretly, the bus did scare me a little bit. WCK is still under 40 pounds, which means that she still rides around strapped down securely in a five-point harness, like she's blasting off for a mission to Mars. School buses don't even have seat belts. I kept thinking of that episode of The Simpsons where the bus is about to crash, and Otto the bus driver yells, "Fasten your seat belts!"

"We don't have any seat belts!" cries Lisa Simpson.

"Oh," says Otto. "Then just try to go limp."

I know The Simpsons is not exactly a documentary, but, you know, it could happen.

Fortunately, everyone made it to the farm in one piece. We saw lots of animals, played in the hay, walked through some prairie grass, went on a hayride, and picked out some apples to take home. We saw two adorable baby piglets, snuggled together in the hay. As everyone oohed and ahhed over them, the tour guide pointed out to all of the four-year-olds that the pigs would eventually become bacon, pepperoni, and hot dogs.

WCK actually thought this was cool. "I always thought hot dogs came from dogs!" she said.

It was a very educational trip.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I ran a 5k!

I've walked several 5ks before, but this was the first time I actually ran one. It's also the first time I've ever participated in a race that raised money for a disease that I personally have:

The race was held in Pittsfield, Illinois, which is just 30 minutes from where my sister lives. She found out that this race was going on, and it just happened to be right around my niece's birthday, so we made it into a family weekend. Jay, WCK, my sister, my brother-in-law, my niece, my parents, and my brother-in-law's dad all participated in the race. It was a beautiful course that went around a lake, and I was amazed by how many people showed up. I got to talk to the race organizer for a few minutes afterward. She also goes to the Mayo Clinic and has had myeloma for nine years. She pointed out a man who is also a myeloma patient at Mayo, and -- listen up, everyone who has been given the "you have three years to live" speech -- he was diagnosed in 1990. That's nearly twenty years ago, people!

There were a few brief moments before I crossed the finish line where I thought I was going to throw up, but I did not throw up. I crossed the finish line triumphantly. See? Absolutely anything is possible.