Monday, March 31, 2008

Fun Monday: the words to live by edition

The very lovely and talented poet Robin (the Pensieve one) is our hostess for this week's Fun Monday. I had such faith in her that I signed up even before I knew the topic.

Yeah, I'm wild and crazy that way.

Here is what she posed for us intrepid group of Fun Mondayers:

Please share words that inspire and motivate you--brief or bloviatory, silly or serious, from great world leaders to last night's Comedy Central ... from a Hallmark greeting card to your favorite book. Choose one, choose many; let the quotes stand on their own or tell where you first read or heard them and how they affected you.
Hmmm, she said, hmmmm.

I puzzled over this for a few days before I could commit to putting finger to keyboard.

Until I remembered one of my most memorable phrases -- something I invented on the spot during a tough time during the Roo-girl's preschool days.

Let me warn you in advance: This will not be the lighthearted fare that others might offer you today.

Her father was dead, and she grieved alone. We had sold our "big" house and moved into much smaller digs. She was suddenly faced with all-day preschool, instead of the genteel three-hour version she had been used to.

Bedtime was a nightmare. She wouldn't leave my bedroom. Wanted to sleep in my bed. Cried endlessly and tantrumed frequently.

In short, she was completely normal after suffering a traumatic loss.

But I was at the end of my rope, for I too had suffered. A different suffer than she had, but I needed my space at night and I was frantic to resolve this.

Turning bedtime into a predictable and therefore comforting routine seemed like the only option.

And so it began.



Bedtime book (usually the same one -- night after night after night after night).

Snuggles and kisses.

And my final words as I tucked her in -- words that I invented in desperation but that she and I still use with each other to this day, 10 precious years later:

"I love you from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the sky ... and all the way around the world."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekly Winners: March 23-29

Spring has totally sprung around here.

Not that we suffer like people in snow country, because really it's greenish here most of the time (unless it's brown, but that's another story).

But for Lotus' Weekly Winners meme today, I present the signs of rebirth from a walk through my neighborhood.

A little splash of yellow:

A new life:

I'm beginning to see the light:

Poppies ...:

A winter casualty:

Purple haze:

There WILL be roses:

Now go here to see more talented photographers than I am ...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

OK, this exceeds even MY tolerance levels

Yes, there are limits to the food that I will enjoy that the rest of you find to be revolting.

I have expressed my undying love for Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper.

I have taken massive amounts of grief for my devotion to the Elvis special edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cup with banana creme.

But even I have my limits.

IHOP? You have gone too far. This is the travesty that is being perpetrated against our young.

First, let me introduce you to the Beezlenut Splash. It is -- I'm not kidding -- small blocks of cherry and blue-berry Jello floating in lemon-lime soda.

Roo-girl actually drank this monstrosity. I can attest firsthand that you can slurp the Jello cubes right up the straw.

Can you say sugar high?

But here is the part that makes me truly gag. Even Her Roo'ness threw up a little in her mouth over this.

This is the Who-cake. As in "Horton Hears a Who"-cake.

Here is the desciption of this thing from the IHOP website:

Who-ville's who-cakes with lots and lots of surprises.
Shortcake pancakes of all shapes and sizes.
Real boysenberry and blueberry glaze on top,
With rainbow chocolate chips and a pink lollipop!

I am speechless.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Haiku Friday: the Dammit Janet I love you edition

Haiku Friday

Janet and Janet
and Janet and Janet and
me ... I'm so confused.

Omigod, people. So there's a big name controversy/contest going on at Miss Ann's, but I'm having an identity crisis of my own here.

For my entire life, I have pretty much been the only Janet I know. Oh, sure, there was the kid I met at camp when I was 9. And someone in my freshman dorm in college. Oh, and that song.

But. That. Is. It.

I'm pretty much like Cher or Madonna in my world. You know -- able to go by one name alone.

So imagine my surprise when, early in my blogging life, I met Janet.

Interesting, but then again she signs her comments like this: ~JJ

So no problemo. Just a fun side benefit of the big, beautiful world of blogging.

Then I was cruising around, leaving my witty nuggets in the comments section of various blogs, and I found that someone named (ahem) Janet had been there before me.

What the ...?

Well, we have exchanged comments and emails for awhile now. It's a friendly relationship.

And then there was ... JANET??

Hmmm. I'm beginning to detect some sort of weird cyberspace vibe happening here. But Janet and I also exchanged comments and emails ... and life continued as before.

Until this morning.

When I checked on one of my fave blogs, Pickled Beef, written by the amusing and lovely Tink.

And found that I seemed to have been there already!!!!

Well, not really, but there was already a Janet who had commented. This one.

Gotta love someone who goes straight for the Harry Potter reference (right, Robin?).

Anyway, we now have exchanged comments and emails and ... well, you get the idea.

But I am having a massive identity crisis here.

There are all these JANETS everywhere. I mean, seriously, it's not like Janet is such a common and/or popular name.

Take Jennifer, for example. I am regularly confused by the number of women with the name Jen, Jenn, Jenny, Jenni or just full-out Jennifer. It's confusing as hell, people, but Jennifer was, like, the most popular name for girls in the '70s and '80s and still in the top 20 for the '90s.

Janet? Uh. Not so much.

And in the amazing coinkydink department, I actually was named after my great-grandmother JENNY ... only my parents didn't want to use Jenny or any of its possible derivations.

So, yeah. They came up with Janet. Simple. To the point. Easy to mispell (you wouldn't think so, but I've seen Janett, Jannet, Janette, Jeanette ... and Ja'net).

And reasonably unique.

Until now.

I'm not really the pissy sort, but I am a little protective of my unique-itude. And I was personally confused by all these Janets in people's comments. So I'm taking action.

Some of you may have noticed (or not) that as of Wednesday, I began signing my comments as The Planet of Janet (well, really it's all lower case -- cuz that's how i roll).

I also added a Janets Who Blog section of my blogroll. If you are one, let me know. I'll be happy to add you. We Janets have to stick together, you know.

But if you're some permutation of Jennifer ... dude, you're on your own!

Walk of Fame Animated custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more -

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yes, Regis, this IS my final answer ...

When last we spoke, I was busy answering questions posed by my friend Miss Ann Thrope.

I answered questions 2 and 3 in this post.

And I intentionally saved question 1 for its own special one. Here it is:

1. Four part question: Have you ever wanted NOT to tell someone that you are Jewish? How important is religion to you? Are there traditions and/or rituals that you do NOT practice? And finally, what would you do if Roo Girl came to you and said, "Mom, I've become a Christian"?

The answers to these questions are many ... and complicated. I probably will not answer them in any logical way.

Firstly, religion is very important to me. Although I may not spend a lot of time in the synagogue, the teachings and the celebrations are innate for me. They are just there.

I was raised in a Reform Jewish home. I never had a bat mitzvah. Neither did my younger sister, though both my brothers were bar mitvah'd. Why? I don't know, really. It just wasn't offered to me, and yet, as an adult, it's something that I regret deeply.

When I grew up and needed to find a synagogue of my own as an adult, I picked a Conservative one. It was more in line with who I had become over the years. I also began keeping kosher.

Let me step back a hair.

When I was in college (yes, the one I referred to in yesterday's post), my dearest friend's boyfriend took a class on the history of the Middle East. It was taught by -- ahem -- a gentleman of Arabic persuasion, who biased the class (in my opinion) in favor of the Arab nations. When my friend's b/friend said something about the poor little Arabs, the Jew in me rose up in righteous indignation, but I had no facts at my fingertips to contradict his claims.

So, that summer, I took an educational trip to Europe and Israel that changed my life. The two-week European portion was strictly a brainwashing expedition (in a totally positive sense) to Germany, Austria and Romania -- to see concentration camps, immigration holding camps and the Jewish plight in a communist country.

At the end of the two weeks, we flew out of Bucharest directly to Tel Aviv. I can't begin to tell you what that was like. It would require its own post, I suspect. And the following four weeks were an amazing reintroduction to my heritage and my people.

That's the Janet who entered into a marriage with a Catholic, who converted to Judaism. We joined that conservative congregation and kept a kosher home.

Three children later, we divorced. But my three boys all became a bar mitzvah at the age of 13.

My second marriage (how did this become about my marriages now??) was to a Jewish man. He, however, was the Evil One I have mentioned before. The Roo-girl's father.

We continued to maintain our kosher home and our relationship with a conservative synagogue.

Not really sure how to transition to the next part. The Evil One is gone. The Wonderhubby arrives ... and remains. He is not Jewish, yet he respects every part of my religious convictions. We still maintain our kosher home (although in truth, I do not buy kosher meat -- the expense is too much -- but we keep separate dishes for meat and dairy, etc.). Sometimes he's more careful about reading labels than I am.

He and J-bear both attend religious services or family celebrations with me as they come up. They both were participants in Roo-girl's bat mitzvah. Wonderhubby gave a speech, too. I'll reprint it here one day. It was one of the highlights of the morning.

So yeah, to make a short story long, my religion is very important to me.

Next, have I ever not wanted to tell someone I am Jewish? Not that I can recall, although I will admit to being grateful that my married name no longer SOUNDS Jewish when I travel on airplanes. There is some comfort in not being identifiable then.

Are there traditions and rituals that I do not follow?

Yes, many. There are many rules in the Bible -- 613 of them to be exact -- and not all of them are relevent to today's world (ritual sacrifice is pretty much out these days). I also don't completely celebrate Shabbat as a day of rest. Saturdays are a day for a woman with kids and a full-time job to catch up on errands and (sometimes!) fun stuff. I don't go to synagogue as much as I would like to. Life seems to get in the way. Is that a poor excuse? Maybe, but it is what it is.

And finally, Miss Ann, you poke at something that is a sensitive spot.

What would I do if Roo-girl told me she had become a Christian?

I have mixed emotions here. The reality, though, is that my child is always my child.

Would I be happy? No. I don't believe any Jewish parent can answer that any differently.

Would I disown her or throw her out? Decidedly not. I know people who would. Mr. Ex (the convert who never found acceptance for his decision from his own parents) is one who would. I find that bizarre in its contradictions.

But, same as I told the Drama King when he "came out" to me at the age of 16, she would still be my adored child, whether she was green, purple, Jewish or Hari Krishna.

That's just who I am.

Man, are you tired of listening to me drone on about this stuff yet? I am, for sure!

I hope I didn't leave you all in the dust or drive you to reading someone else's blog instead today ...

Although the question-answering thing is kinda fun (and revealing) in a weird sort of way.

Does anyone have any other questions that require answering? I'll try not to be quite so longwinded next time!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The answer to the burning questions that someone wanted to know ...

My friend -- oh, excuuuuuuse me, my BFF -- Miss Ann Thrope of Color Me ... Complicated wanted to play a game.

It's called "I ask the questions and YOU (meaning me) answer them."

I thought it was fitting to celebrate my 200th post with this special revelationary thing.


Well, you have to understand that Miss Ann? She can be a little scary sometimes. To let her arbitrarily pick three questions out of the air and then for me to HAVE to answer them -- that can be a little disconcerting.

But she is my BFF. And I had to trust that she wouldn't go TOO crazy on my ass ... and she did not disappoint. Her questions are actually very thoughtful, and as a result, I have thoughtful answers to celebrate this momentous blog milestone.

I am, however, going to cheat and flip the order of her questions.

So here we go:

2. Think back to your childhood: What is the WORST thing you can remember ever saying to your mother? What is the worst thing SHE ever said to you?

Um. My mom and I have had some interesting battles over the years. Mostly, I was a goody-two-shoes as a child and saved my rebellious years until I was adult -- when I was selecting a mate.

Regular readers know that my first two husbandish choices weren't so hotsy-totsy, and probably the worst thing I ever said to my mom took place during the years I was married to the Evil One Who Shall Not Be Named.

My only excuse is that I was totally under his spell and his abusive thumb, and things came out of my mouth that, today, I wouldn't recognize or accept as me.

To my abject and forever regret ... I told my mother to get out of my house.

And I am ashamed.

However, I did learn something from that experience. Despite my despicable behavior during those years, my mother still loves me and speaks to me (though this does not stop her from slamming it in my face when things get tense). I marvel about this every day.

From her forgive-although-not-necessarily-forget example, I learned a valuable lesson and was able forgive my own child, who two years ago said something so unbelievably vile to me that I threw him out of my house on the spot. It was 9 p.m. on Christmas night when I slammed my front door behind him and, the next morning, changed the locks.

That child? My goofy Drama King, who has since come back into the fold as a sadder but wiser member of a close-knit family.

On the flip side, my mother (and my dad) have spent a lot of time berating me for being a crappy parent (um ... no -- but I guess they are entitled to their opinion). But the worst thing I can remember (and the fact that I remember every detail of something that happened almost 38 years to the day is testament to there being something here) is this:

I was waiting for college acceptance letters. I had applied to five schools. All of them good, but one of them amazing. Not Ivy League, but right up there, and hard as hell to get into.

The first four schools had already sent out letters (yes, I got into all four of them), and I was waiting for the fifth -- the special one.

And then, one day in April, after school, it was there.

I took it upstairs -- unopened -- to my bedroom, where I could open my precious mail without embarrassment.

I'm actually surprised that my shriek of excitement as I hurtled down the stairs, letter waving, doesn't echo until this day. Yeah, it was that loud and that hysterical.

"I got in I got in I got in I got in I got in I got in I got in I got in I got in ..."

"Wow," said my biggest fan. "That must have been a fluke."

Uh, thanks for the buzz kill, Mom.

To this day, she SWEARS that wasn't what she meant. And probably I should get over it already. But ... that one hurt more than all the slams against my parenting skills put together.

Can't help it. It just did.

OK, moving on ...

3. I know you don't especially like cooking. Tell me something that you completely RUINED. So badly that the dogs wouldn't even eat it?

Oh lordy, lordy.

Let's start with the fact that my dogs will eat ANYTHING, especially if it's NOT their dog food. They eat toys, chapstick, sticks, pillows, jackets, shoes ... so even one of my failures isn't likely to be turned down by the rat dogs.

Then let's add to that the fact that really? I don't cook that much anymore. We tend to fake it a lot. Plus Wonderhubby is really pretty self-sufficient in the kitchen and gets home waaaaaaaaaaaay before me. Gotta love a guy who can prepare dinner!

Which means, really, the opportunities for failure on my part? Not so much.

I did make a salmon dish recently that was not ruined, exactly, but just tasteless enough to have us all picking at it.

Just for the record, the dogs LOVED it.

Miss Ann's first but now final question is a four-parter and requires a post of its own because -- sheesh -- this one is longer than necessary already.

So ... to be continued.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hey!!! I'm not HERE, I'm over THERE!

There's a party over at Dawn's ... and I'm the hostess.

Come on over, get a drink and sit right down while I tell you a story about (shhhh) s.e.x. on my planet!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lawsie, Miss Scarlett, I don't know NOTHIN' 'bout birthin' no babies!!

If you are looking for the ABCs of Fun Monday -- sorry. I had a different story to tell today ...

I mentioned earlier that all of my children had unique and creative beginnings, but for the most part, their entry into the world was pretty ordinary.

Drummer Man is adopted, but -- other than the fact that I wasn't there at the birth of the person who bestowed the title of mommy upon me -- his arrival was nothing unusual.

Z-man -- scheduled c-section.

Roo-girl -- the same.

J-bear -- she's my stepdaughter, so I didn't have anything to do with that.

Hmmmm, she said. Who is missing in this list?

As befitting his station, it's the Drama King, of course!

For purposes of this story, I am skipping over the drama (naturally) that led to his conception, which included a trip to Israel and a fervent wish scribbled on a piece of paper and lodged in the Western Wall.

Anyway, the presence of an adopted child made my pregnancy a little different than usual first-timers. I was experiencing all the symptoms for the first time, yet I was still chasing after a toddler we had nicknamed Mr. Destructo (for obvious reasons).

Trust me, I'm not complaining. It just makes things a little creative for a first-timer.

Anyway, his birth story. Right.

Drama King's due date was Nov. 10, 1983. And in one of the only predictable moves he has ever made, he began to make his presence known in the afternoon hours of Nov. 9.

Contractions were ... not so bad. I drove around with them (still needed a few things at the grocery story, etc.), I came home, we went out to dinner (mistake!), we came home.

I put Drummer Toddler to bed.

Where he didn't like to stay.

We had transitioned him to a big-boy bed, but he had refused to stay in it, choosing instead to take his 2 1/2-year-old self on walks down the hall. In a fit of holy-crap-now-what-do-I-do, I had called a "warm line" to ask for some parenting advice.

"He's concerned that you won't be there. Lie on his floor till he goes to sleep, then sneak out. As he becomes accustomed to this, gradually transition yourself a little further and further away until you work your way out of his room entirely."

Um. Yeah.

Nervous Nellie mom, with impending second child. I had been lying on his floor for days now, leaving me AGAIN on the floor at 8 p.m. on Nov. 9, holding Drama Toddler's hand (at his insistence), timing my contractions.

Eventually, sanity prevailed. "Drummer," I said. "Mommy has to go back to her room. YOU STAY HERE."

Funny. He did just that. Kids.

Anyway, we took a midnight'ish run to the hospital, just for yucks, only to be told that I was barely dilated and would be "more comfortable" laboring at home (in other words: GO AWAY).

By the time I got home, though, I was in full-blown labor. Piggy-back contractions rolled in one after another, and I was fuh-reaking out.

Lamaze? Um, sure.

Mr. Now-Ex-Husband drove me once again through a winding canyon road in rush-hour traffic to my doctor's office. I pressed my "focal point" (a photo of Drummer Toddler) to my nose, trying to breathe through pain I had never imagined.

The doctor confirmed that, why yes, I was in active labor, and they put me in a wheelchair to wheel me to labor and delivery.

I was too busy breathing to notice the nurse and Mr. Ex collapsing in hysterical laughter as they rolled me into the elevator and he reached for the button -- knocking off the toupee of the guy standing next to me.

I miss all the good stuff!

This story gets longer by the second, doesn't it? I can cut to a bit of the chase here, though.

Drugs. They gave me blessed drugs.

Never let anyone tell you different: The epidural is your friend.

The rest of labor was a piece of cake. Then it became time to push.

Please note -- at this point it was about 3 p.m. on Nov. 10. I had been in some kind of labor since about 3 the previous afternoon.

Pushing was no picnic. What they don't tell you in Lamaze class is THEY LET THE EPIDURAL WEAR OFF to push.

So I pushed.

And I pushed.

And I pushed.

And every time I pushed, the Drama King would move down through my cervix. And every time the pushing contraction stopped, he would slide back up.

Someone had the bright idea to pull the edges of my cervix back by hand.

Not just one hand, mind you. I had more hands up my hoo-hoo than I thought it was capable of handling.

And still I pushed ... and DK lowered himself ... and I relaxed ... and he slid back. For an hour and a half.

"Let's talk about a c-section," my doctor said.

"NO," exclaimed the labor nurse, who I instantly despised. "You haven't given her a chance. Let her go another hour ..."

Say WHAT?????

"Well," says my kindly doc. "What do you think, Janet? Do you want to push for another hour?"

"If I push for another hour, will I have a c-section anyway?" I asked.

"Probably," she said.


"Ok," she said. "But I want to make sure you are good with having a c-section instead of a natural childbirth."

"Let me ask you something," I said (and I remember the words I spoke as clearly as if they were yesterday). "Will I have a baby when you're done here?"

"Yes," she answered.

"I don't care HOW it gets out -- just get it out already!!"


Drama King

Born: 5:23 p.m. Nov. 10, 1983

Weight: 9 pounds, 2 1/2 ounces

Length: 21 inches

Head circumpherence: I don't know, but there was no question that he wasn't getting out the way he got in.

This post is part of the Birth Story Carnival, thought up by Lotus, the Sarcastic Mom.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekly Winners: March 16-22

I have an eclectic mix for you today for my contribution to Lotus' Weekly Winners meme.

Not nearly enough of my gorgeous child, of course, but she is getting a little irked at seeing the camera pointed at her.

(Oh well, kid! Them's the breaks!)

So here's what my week has to offer ...

Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet:

... But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat:

Hat tip to Trini Lopez for that one!

Muffin top:

A girl and her rat dog (and a latex glove -- don't ask):

The gloved one:

Now go to Lotus' and check out the work of better photographers that me!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Candy is dandy (though sex won't rot your teeth)

First things first: Roo-girl ROCKED THE HOUSE at the high school cheer practice on Thursday. She totally loved it, and they totally loved her and expect (!!) her to come back. And Coach K? You can suck it!

Now ... moving forward ...

If you listen very very closely, you can still hear me making nummy noises.

Yum num num num!

You know I like to share with my internet buddies. After all, when I found this, I shared.

And so I must share again.

That, my friends, is a little piece of candy heaven.

It also stands between me and a slimmer, trimmer body, but let us not go there.

You have no idea what an odyssey this has been.

One of my four work podmates had one last week and raved as we drooled. After that, it became a sort of pod obsession, launching trips to assorted stores and gas station mini-marts in search of Elvis nirvana.

Finally, we got the real scoop. It had come from the local 99-cent store.

I made my personal plans to swing by there after work to satisfy my craving curiosity, and continued slaving away at my desk.

About an hour later, a second podmate moseyed back into the office -- and deposited one on each of our four desks.

Oh, there was happiness is Mudville. Joy and rapture.

And nummy noises.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Haiku Friday: the rant and rave edition

Haiku Friday

I'm so furious
that I cannot even think
in five-seven-five.

< rant >

I know it's Haiku Friday, but 5-7-5 is tough when you are spitting nails.

My little Roo-girl had the opportunity of, well, not quite a lifetime, but it was a damned good one.

The high school cheer team (which she tries out for in April -- omigod!!!) practices at a local gym and invited her to work out with them. This is pretty freakin' special. Tryouts are a month away -- and she is getting an opportunity not offered to anyone else!

Roo was understandably excited about this and burbled a little to her current coach, who RAINED ON HER PARADE.

Told my child that she COULD. NOT. GO.

Because it conflicted with her regular team practices.

Now, I don't know about you, but I happen to know that the cheer season is winding down some. And preparations are being made (at least at the high school level) for NEXT year already.

I also happen to know that my kid is very very loyal to her coach, the only person who has trained her during her five years as a cheerleader/tumbler. Loyal to the point of making me crazy, too, because Coach K is a notorious flake.

And I ALSO happen to know that Roo is the most skilled child on her team -- both in the air and on the floor mats as a tumbler. No one else has a standing back tuck or any parts of the pike-overs and half-whatevers she can do.

Roo-girl IS that team, and the coach is staring disaster in the face when my little girl goes to high school.

So when we got the call Thursday morning that she was invited to practice that night, I told Roo I would talk to the coach and clear it. I had no intention of telling Coach K why she wouldn't be at practice Thursday night, just that she wouldn't.

I admit I took the chickenshit way out: I sent her a text message.

And as soon as the text left my fingertips, my phone rang.

Guess who?

"Is Roo-girl sick?" she asked.

"No," I answered. "I just need her tonight."

"Oh, well, you know she told me about practicing with the high school team. Is that where she is going?"

Sigh. I won't lie.

"Yes, it is."

"Well, you know what I told her, don't you?"

*Insert motherly eyeroll here*

"I told her to remember how she felt last year when other kids did that to HER."

"Um, K? She is not quitting the team. She is missing practice tonight. Period."

Sheesh. This kid does. not. miss. practice. ever.

She is the heart and backbone of the team, and she is always there, busting her butt.

Hey, coach?

How 'bout if you are gut-busting proud of the little girl you have trained since she was 8 years old? How 'bout if, instead of playing the guilt card, you let the baby bird fly from the nest?

You've raised her well, Coach K. Now it's time to let her test her wings in the big-girl arena.

Fly, baby bird, fly!
Time to show them your best stuff.
You make your mom proud.

< /rant >

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Book 'em, Janno

I am a reader.

If you stopped by here yesterday and witnessed my abject slobbering over one of my fave-rave authors, you already know this.

I also am not a library-goer. I want to OWN my books, so I can touch them and caress them and fondle them -- and reread them -- whenever I feel the need.

Books are a portal to other worlds and other eras, and I treasure my time with my hardbound and paperback friends.

But somehow, my love for reading never made it to the next generation.

Oh sure, Drama King is an obsessive-compulsive reader. But then, that makes sense in the fairy-tale world he lives in, where Peter Parker could be his best friend.

Z-man? Middle school stopped his reading career in its tracks.

And the Drummer guy? He struggles.

So I was understandably thrilled when I heard possibly the sweetest words ever to escape my Roo-girl's precious lips.

No, it wasn't "I love you, Mom," although that ranks up there with "Here, Mommy, let me give you a backrub" or "Hey, Mom! I won the lottery!"

It was this:

"I need a new book. I have run out of things to read."

Ah, music to my ears from the child who, six months ago, fought me tooth and nail on extra-curricular reading material. You see, for reasons that I totally understand but 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds fail to see the point of, our middle schools require a certain amount of outside reading to be done during the school year.

The kids then have to take these little computerized tests and get points. Each year is different, but this year, Roo needs 15 points a quarter. Books can be as little as 2 points (some third or fourth-grade level readers) or as many as 44 ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix").

So you see, 15 points for 10 weeks is pretty much a no-brainer.

Unless you are the Z-man and "forced" reading turns you off to the pleasures of the printed page forever.

Or unless you are Miss Roo and are flatly allergic to books.

Last year, in an attempt to find something to fulfill the reading requirement, we discovered the chick-lit books, like Louise Rennison's "Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson" and her successive seven books, or Lauren Myracle and her "ttfn" series, written as a series of instant messages between friends.

If she read the back cover and didn't start snoring (or snorting), we were in. Sorta.

And then ... came "Twilight," "New Moon" and "Eclipse."

I've written about these books a couple of times before. They are really enjoyable teen/vampire romance stories by Stephenie Meyer.

And Roo inhaled them.

And reread them.

And obsessed over them.

And, through them, found the key to unlock the magic kingdom of books.

"Now I get it, Mom," she told me recently. "I never understood why you loved reading so much -- and now? Now I do."

So, since the end of January, she has read the three Stephenie Meyer books (twice) ... and this... and this ... and this ... and this ...

And she just started this three-book series.

Now, I do know they have a bit of a theme running through them (teens and vampires and such) and I did allow that fairly adult'ish Christopher Moore book in there (hello, Child Protective Services?).


When my anti-reading child asks to go to the bookstore? You betchum.

When this same child carts five books to school -- one for her and four to share with her friends? Yippee!

When the sweetest moment I can think of is to sit snuggled up with my teenage daughter while we both have our noses in a book?

Ahhh. It doesn't get better than that.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I canNOT believe what a dork I am. Seriously.


Yes, I AM the biggest doofus on the planet. I did something this month that has me blithering like an idiot. STILL!!

I met one of my real-live idols: Joshilyn Jackson.

The woman is an amazing writer. Her third novel came out this month and she has been on a tour of local haunts, for booksignings and speeches and general pressing of the flesh.

When I saw on her blog that she would be within a reasonable driving distance of my house, I was on this like white on rice. (What the hell does that mean anyway??? Oh. That. First definition only please.)


I planned my week around this. I put it in my phone/pda thingy. I wrote it in my paper calendar. I told the Wonderhubby about it. I talked about it endlessly to people who couldn't care less.

And I told my bloggy friend Miss Ann, too.

And she? lost her shit -- because she lives NOWHERE NEAR anywhere that Joss (we're such good buds, you see -- I can call her Joss) would be appearing.

So I promised I would get her a signed copy, too.


I trooped off -- all by myself -- to an obscure bookstore in a strange part of town to meet the writer of my dreams.

When I arrived, she was giving a talk to an audience of about 10 or 11. She was adorable. With dimples to die for and a sparkle in her eye.

She talked, she read from the book. She took questions. She signed books.

Omigod, she signed books.

I sat down in a chair next to her (!!) and totally forgot that I am a grown woman with five children, a husband and a respectable job.

I blithered. I gasped. I slobbered. Sheesh. It went kind of like this:

"Omigod, I read your blog and I TOTALLY love you. I started reading your blog before I read your books. I found you through reading Mir because I was reading her entire archive and there was this time when you and Kira kidnapped her and then I figured I should read your blogs and then I read your books and I absolutely loved them and my friend loves you too and didn't want to order a signed copy online cuz she wanted me to come here and get it signed for her ... oh and for me too ... and I really should shut up because I am so slobbering over you and totally embarrassing myself!"

Yep. That is a pretty accurate representation of what I sounded like.

Pretty awful, huh?

Except I got this:

And this:


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It smells ... or it stinks. Is there a difference?

The Roo-girl: What's that SMELL?

Evil Mother: Huh? I don't smell anything.

TRG: It's like cologne or perfume or something.

Carpool Girl: Oh. It's probably me.

TRG: What are you wearing?

CPG: Stella McCartney.

TRG: Yeah, but what's it called?

CPG: Stella McCartney.

TRG: Oh. I really like Princess ... or Daisy.

EM: *feels like she is in the middle of magazine with scratch-n-sniff inserts*

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

CPG: Oh, I LOVE this song!! I know all the words. *starts singing along to prove it*

TRG: Oh, me too. *joins in*

EM: *knowing that TRG listens to country music, but believing that CPG never would* How do you know this song? How do you know Carrie Underwood? Do you listen to country music?

CPG: Oh, ew, NO! I can't STAND country music.

*silence while car radio blares a Keith Urban song*

CPG: Like that. It's so whiney. I can't stand it. It stinks.

EM: Oh.

CPG: Although I have always wanted a Tennessee accent. Ever since I was little.

EM: Uh ...

CPG: Yeah, my mom thinks it's creepy, too.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Update on the CPG situation: She has been absolutely perfect ever since I posted about her rudeness. I am such a wuss that I have to wait for her to transgress again before I can say something. Sigh.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fun Monday #57: the what-the-heck-did-he-say/St. Patrick's Day edition

Nikki, the Elvis-loving, wacky blogger of My Husband Calls Me Weird/Antics of a Crazy Mom fame, is our hostess for Fun Monday's St. Patrick's Day-appolooza. She has a challenge and an alternate for us today:

What created words does your family use?! Please share the story behind the word if you remember. If you don't have a made up word then tell us about the unspoken way you communicate with someone. Do you and your significant other have a look that means "This party is boring, lets split" or do you have a look that your kids know means their butt is in serious trouble? Please share!! And a picture of the look would be very entertaining!


In honor of St. Paddy's Day, please share your worst green beer story!

Oh, my heavens, Nikki! You have awakened the sleeping dragon. I admit that I have never drunk green beer in my life, but do I have children who slaughtered the English language and created a family lexicon all our own?

Does Pinocchio have a wooden butt?

Drummer Man and the Drama King were not so much the butchers of language. At least nothing comes to mind right now.

The Roo-girl only had one that lingers to this day:

Soap, soap, soap: spoken whenever there is a break in the conversation. I have no clue what she meant by this, except it seemed to be a replacement for "Soooooo....?" Even my friends say this now.

But my resident mush-mouth supreme was Z-man, whose mastery of the English language was thorough, yet ... um ... creative. I give you now -- the Z files:

1) Ridiclious: a priceless mispronunciation that we all still use. "Don't be ridiclious!"

2) Smutch: a bastardization of the Yiddish word schmutz, which means dirt. "You have a little smutch on your face!"

3) Pastaghetti: Yeah, I know. Every kid mangles the spaghetti word.

4) Move a butt: Don't really know what prompted him to say this, but when we want someone to operate a little faster, "move a butt" is the phrase du jour.

5) Time a go: Notice a theme of the misuse of "a" here? Time a go spread to family and friends alike. Some day I expect to hear it used in a movie. Seriously.

That's what I got for today, folks. Soap soap soap ... don't be ridiclious about all this smutch. Move a butt and go visit the other Fun Mondayers now, because it's time a go.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekly Winners: March 9-15

Ah spring. It's here. Sorta.

Well, you can see in this week's offerings for Lotus' Weekly Winners that SOMETHING has started blooming at least!

Crape myrtle:

(I always want to call them crap myrtles. Yeah, I'm incorrigible!)

I swear she'd be a vampire if she could:

(Explanation: Edward Cullen is the main character -- and a "good" vampire -- in Roo's fave-rave books by Stephenie Meyer. Oy.)

Walking hand in hand into the sunset:

If you're offended by demontrations of boy love, sorry. But my boy is in love and isn't afraid to show it. And everything about it makes me happy.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stereotypically yours ...

The school musical is over.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

I swear I get the award for mother of the year for sitting through three performance of middle-school boys trying to sing in a vocal register that's either too low or too high. (Note to director: Try transposing the music up a little. It would have been kinder to the boys and to the audiences, who had to put up with words sung in a too-low growl, octave jumps in the middle of a line or squeaky highs.)

The show was double-cast. Which made it a little more interesting to sit through nights one and two, since I saw different leads those two nights.

And I also saw different errors and an amazing amount of onstage cool and clever ad-libbing when things went wrong.

Prime example: two kids onstage, waiting for the musicians (adults, by the way) to stop tickling the keyboard with interim music and START THEIR SONG ALREADY ...

He is on his knees. She is standing in a dancey pose.

The wrong music continues. Their duet music doesn't start.

She grabs his hand and does a twirl under his arm.

"Smooth," he says. "You should be in show biz."

"Yes," she answers. "And maybe next time we'll get better musicians."

Cue audience hysterics.


This particular musical has at its core the theme that if a woman does something better than a man, he won't like her anymore. A lovely message to pass along to our middle-school girls already struggling with their gawkiness, developing bodies and mean-girl wars.

So I mentioned it to the Roo-girl -- that this was an antiquated message of an era fairly long gone.

"Oh, no," she replied. "You know middle school boys don't like girls to dispute their ... their ... you know, their ... manliness."

I believe she and I had this conversation once before, but I still can't get over the idea of middle-school boys and their ... ahem ... manliness.

It does boggle the mind.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Haiku Friday: the petite edition

Haiku Friday

In the air, she's tall.
In real life, it's obvious:
My baby's a shrimp.

School musical. Seen it two nights in a row now, with closing night tonight (yes, I'll be seeing that too). Miss Roo is in the chorus -- and suitably adorable. I'll have more to say on this later.

For now? All I have to say is this:

Omigod, she's short!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

High school confidential

It's March, and I am watching the end of the school year hurdling at me at the speed of light.

Normally, this wouldn't affect me quite , but the end of the 2007-08 school year has special meaning to me.

It is the last year before my last child enters high school.

The age range of my kids is 13 years from top to bottom. The spacing was such that I spent 19 uninterrupted years with at least one child in elementary school.

Having that kind of scary "streak" come to an end in 2006 was a bit of a trauma, but honestly, I was a little glad to get out of the grade-school mindset and move on. It was a long haul, after all.

But this?

High school? The land of teens and driving and college applications and SATs and the four-year college-prep course-selection plan?

For the little girl who cried at every birthday party she ever had until she was 7?

For the one who stamped her feet in outrage while her older brothers tormented her?

For the one I tucked into bed every night with this: "I love you from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the sky and all the way around the world ..."?

Oh, it is to cry.

Monday night, we went to the incoming freshman orientation program at the local high school. We listened to the fairly boring litany of "what to expect for and from your ninth grader."

I'd heard it before. Please remember I have shepherded three sons and a stepdaughter through high school. But I was unprepared for how hard it was to see my little girl sitting in the bleachers, listening to talk about what classes to take as a high school freshman.

To know that on April 1, she starts clinics and ultimately tryouts for the cheer squad.

To see her face light up as the cheer coach invited her to work out with the team now, instead of waiting till after tryouts.

To know that she now walks a path to her future from which there is no turning back.

High school.

Lord help me. The kid we call the last of the Mohicans is going to HIGH SCHOOL.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blondes really DO have more fun ... or is it just that they're funny?

Evil Mother/Wife: Oops, I just realized I used your toothbrush instead of mine.

Wonderhubby: Is this a problem in some way?

EM/W: Ooooooh, you might get cooties.

WH: Ooooooh, I always wanted cooties.

Voice from another room sounding suspiciously like a Roo-girl: Cooties is a form of head lice. I hate to break it to you, but you cannot get cooties from a toothbrush.

EM/W: Oh. Thank you, my darling daughter, for the lesson in entomology.

TRG: Hey, there's more going on under the hair than you think!

EM/W: Hey, you know you color that hair. It's actually darker than you let on!

TRG: *high-pitched giggling*

And before anyone gets all bent out of shape over my 13-year-old coloring her hair, let me just say that I allow highlights every once in awhile. It makes her happy, which makes me happy -- or at least less irritable!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

By popular demand, I offer you the photo of J-bear's death glare.

She took a kick to the gut from her much stronger (and male) sparring opponent.

And she. totally. lost. her. SHIT!

Exhibit One (and only):

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not ME, but still MINE

I have a lot of children. Each of them has his or her own unique and equally bizarre how-they-came-to-be stories.

But this story is about my oldest -- Drummer Man -- and what came before.

For a lot of genetically identifiable reasons, my first husband and I opted to have children the hard way -- artificial insemination using donor sperm. Please remember that this dates back to the late '70s and very early '80s, and this technology was less than advanced at that time.

Many, many failures later, we got tired of the reproductive merry-go-round and jumped off in favor of adoption. In the interest of not boring anyone with a litany of how long it takes to find adoptive babies in the age of Roe v. Wade, let's skip ahead to this phone call:

"Hello, Janet and Now-Ex-Husband! We have a baby for you."

Excitement? You betchum, kiddo.

Also some interesting feelings on my part. The baby we were going to "get" was due in about three months.

And I? I wanted to breastfeed.

Yes, really. Please remember this was late 1980, and resources were what they were, but I had found a place that advocated breastfeeding for adopted infants.

It called for a rented breast pump (to stimulate your own body to make milk) and little device -- a bag filled with formula with a very small tube that you attached to your own nipple -- so the sucking infant was rewarded for his or her efforts.

So I sat on the floor of my bedroom, several times a day, listening to the really unattractive sucking sound of a breast pump and hoping that I could make what I thought was almost impossible come true.


(ssssssssuck, whoooosh, ssssssssuck, whooooosh)


(ssssssssuck, whoooosh, ssssssssuck, whooooosh)


(ssssssssuck, whoooosh, ssssssssuck, whooooosh)

The baby's due date of St. Patrick's Day came and went.

Until March 28.

For complicated reasons, we were out of touch for the day and missed a series of phone messages left on our machine that the baby had been born and ...

Well ...

There was a problem.

It's complicated to explain the physical abnormalities and their resulting complications for this little baby.

A lot of tears were shed before a difficult decision was made.

There is no need for anyone to beat me up about the incredible hubris of thinking I should get a perfect baby. Trust me, I beat myself up for a long, long time. There was intense agony in the decision to say no.

But that is not the point of my story today.

It would be almost six months before the baby we would have called Joshua found another adoptive family that was willing to take on his physical disabilities.

But it would be a mere five weeks -- on May 4 -- before I received another call at work, telling me that my attorney had found us another infant, who was within 12 hours of being born.

Drummer Baby came home with us about 30 hours later.

The breast pump? I returned it.

The thrill of feeding my baby -- even with a bottle?


This post is part of the (Breast)feeding Carnival, thought up by Lotus, the Sarcastic Mom.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fun Monday #56: the wish I'd thought of that edition

IT guy is our host for this week, and he is continuing the movie theme that I began last week with this challenge:

I need YOU (yes, the wonderful YOU!) to pick 5 memorable lines from 5 different movies (if you could tell us which character said it and to whom, would be a bonus)...and tell us to WHOM (who in the people in your life) you could have said those lines.

Hmmm, she said, hmmmmmm. This required some serious thought here. Not so easy, Mr. IT Guy ... You're making me think. Not nice for someone who has recently had trauma of the work and carpool kind!

But nevertheless, I persevere. I presented a difficult challenge last week that some of our steadfast Fun Monday'ers bailed on, so I feel an obligation to press past my fears and move forward.

So ... here we go.

1. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn ..."

I hate to be totally obvious, but Rhett Butler's throw-away "hell with ya" line to Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind" is the perfect comeback to so many situations in my world that I have trouble narrowing them down.

If I had to pick, though, I think I would have said it to the Roo-girl's father, the evil one who shall not be named. It would have fit sooo many situations in that relationship and could have saved me a lot of grief!

2. "Look, in my opinion the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what-have-you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with."

This is spoken by Juno's dad to Juno in (ahem) "Juno." I wish I could have had the forthrightness to say this to the Drama King, in the midst of all his bad-boy choices.

3. "You need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish! But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father."

Spoken Tod (played by Keanu Reeves) to the mom in "Parenthood." Truly, though, my favorite line from that movie is Gil (Steve Martin) to his kid: "You feel like you wanna throw up?" To which the kid answers, "OK," and proceeds to puke all over his dad. Priceless.

Who would I have spoken this to? Hmmm. I have a couple of ex-husbands who could have fit this description.

4. "Make me an offer I can't refuse ..."

Obviously "The Godfather" -- though this is slightly paraphrased from the reel deal. I wish my employer would make me that offer I couldn't refuse, and then I could have felt free to get out with my dignity and my stomach lining intact.

I couldn't come up with a fifth line that I wish I had said to a specific person. So, sorry, IT Guy, I'm gonna pull a Swampy and break the rules for the end.

Because I found two movie lines that I loved loved loved. No specific circumstances. I just wish I'd said it first!

"Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty."
-- Derek Zoolander

"You know, once you muscle your way past the gag reflex, all kinds of possibilities open up."
-- Emile the rat, "Ratatouille"

I rest my case.

Now go see what the other Fun Monday'ers are up to. Possibly they followed ALL the rules. Or not.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Weekly Winners: March 2-8

It was belt-testing time at the Planet of Janet corral.

J-bear was testing for her third level of red belt, and so there is much karate in my offerings for Lotus' Weekly Winners game this week.

Grappling -- the upper hand (or body):


I have spared you the shot where we thought she was gonna kill the guy. She was M.A.D.

Kickin' it:

And it's all over but the belt presentations on Monday:

In three months, she goes for what they refer to as "pre-black," then hopefully three months later, black belt.

Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Those goo-goo-Google-y eyes

There is something creepy about Google searches that lead to people's blogs.


I have never done one of these posts before, but then I have never gotten a series of search hits like these:

my baby got back 3 janet: Um, three janet? Not four? Not two?

author of turnaround of the girl who married a fly: No, I swear Wonderhubby is all male, all human. No flies on us.

i hate janet the planet: Wow, I always spoke highly of you ...

funny stories in fun brain that you could write:
Yeah, like "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

janet in thongs: No. Not now. Not ever. NO.

interplanetary janet: Duh. That was creative.

amusement park ticket discounts: Cool. I really could use some. Those cheer competitions are ex.pen.sive.

well well well that's a deep subject joke: Sheesh. My jokes are better than that. Aren't they? AREN'T THEY?????

the cutest college boy on the planet: Where? Where?

the day of my daughter's wedding: Whoah there, buddy. My daughter is 13. No weddings here, shotgun or otherwise.

People, really, I just don't understand asking Mr. Google about these things. Get a life. Please!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Haiku Friday: the college behavior at 13 edition

Haiku Friday

Pulling all-nighters
is a little advanced for
middle-schoolers, no?

Well, ok, it wasn't STRICTLY an all-nighter, but close enough for government work. The Roo-girl was up till 2:30 (and then up for school before 7 a.m.) working on a project Wednesday night ... uh, Thursday morning.

In my usual great-parenting-moments way, I had no idea, having passed out myself long before I could find out who really killed the playboy-rapist on "CSI: NY."

But, man, when she puts her mind to something, nothing can stop her.

Assignment: a travel brochure for a trip to the sun (for science).

Reality: Thank GOODNESS this one is a girl. Art projects that masquerade as legitimate academic assignments used to aggravate me greatly when I had unartistic boys (not Thing 1, but the other two fer shure fer shure). Trying to lead the Drama King through an art-driven assignment was like shoving bamboo up my fingernail beds.

Anyway, I had provided several sheets of colorful paper from Michael's the day before. And armed with a scissors, glue stick and a computer printer, this is what she produced:


Now is that the cutest thing ever? Complete with ribbon ties. Sheesh.

Here's the inside, with little blurbs in the lift tabs:

And the back (typical Roo sense of humor at work here):

Pretty good for all-nighter material, I think.

But, from the are-you-freakin'-kidding-me department, she had a field trip all day Thursday and DIDN'T TURN IN THE STUPID ASSIGNMENT.

You understand what this means, don't you? She stayed up waaaaaaaaay late, exhausted herself beyond her limits, finished the project and could get points off for being late!

Kids. Can't live with 'em. Can't take 'em out and shoot 'em.
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