Friday, February 01, 2008


Thank goodness it's February, that is.

January was quite the month. Moving, unpacking, sick kids and spending night after night waking up every couple of hours made it drag just a bit. I felt like every day was 72 hours. The cherry on top was my stinkin' car. It broke down the very day I finally went in to work for the first time. That means I showered, put on semi decent clothing, wore make up and even brushed my hair. I had a great friend come and babysit. I wasn't even stressed, I was looking forward to going out unencombered. My friend showed up on time, the B didn't mind me leaving and I had a good time in my meeting. I went out to the parking lot to go home, .. and the car wouldn't start.

Thankfully my other great friend was also at work and when I called in a panic she dashed straight out to help. She even lent me her car (I'd forgotten how fun it is to drive a stick!) By the time I had figured out how to get myself with the newborn down to my work parking lot to meet a tow truck driver, four days had passed. I was playing child schedule frogger; let's see, feed baby every twoish hours, kindergartner needs to be piicked up at 12, B needs a nap from 1 - 2:30, big boys come home at 3,... no, there just wasn't a good time.

The auto repair place I went to couldn't find a problem, and generously didn't charge me for figuring out there was nothing wrong (I've been charged $25 before because I was too stupid to figure out I needed to push a certain button to get the interior lights to come back on. One good reason not to let your one year old play in the car). Just told me what a great time he had driving the car. It is a nice car,.. when it runs. So, great friend grabbed my car and took it back to work for me to pick up later on.

This past Saturday we go down to pick up the car. I figure it'll be a quick pick up; so I don't shower, wear weird clothing choices (I was unpacking,..) don't worry about packing diapers and forget my phone. Of course.

Hubby leaves me with the four little kids to take home in the errant car while he dashes off to Home Depot to feed his 'homedepoholism'. (This is a very real side effect of redoing your home; women beware,..)

I start driving home,.. and the car stalls on the freeway. I make it to a side street where it completely shuts down,.. again. Go through my options, of which there are not many. Have no phone, so can't call anyone. Even if I go knock on a door, I am embarrassed to say I don't even KNOW any of my phone numbers. Not hubby's cell phone; not my new phone number, not even great friend's cell phone. I rely on my cell phone way too much.

Wait ten minutes; car starts. I gun it home, it's not far. Car peters out on the main boulevard. I see if I can possibly push it, but the street is too steep and the car starts to roll back the minute I put it in neutral. Thankfully not a minute passes and a man pulls over to help me. I'm sure he's still taking vicadin for the spasms his back is having after pushing that car with all of us in it.

We land in a Century 21 office and the realtor working is great. He lets us come in and use the phone. We take over a conference room and he pops popcorn and brings soda for the kids. I call a tow truck and taxi then realize I can call my parents' in law for hubby's phone number! Yay!

Call hubby and he's on his way to the next auto shop I choose thanks to the tow truck driver's input. Get all the kids in the car with hubby, put key in lock box and depart for home. Suddenly realize I have locked hubby's work truck keys in the broken down car. I will NEVER, EVER win.

So, I'm wondering if I'm a good candidate for Oprah's next mystical book club reading and online Webinar that promises that we make our own destiny, or something like that. Something very The Secretish. Which I think is laughable, because, yes, ridiculous things do seem to happen to me, but I think I'm handling it pretty well. I wouldn't call myself a victim. Of anything but my own ineptitude anyway.

So the nice highpoint of January was a great friend coming over for dinner. Now, I love it when single friends think they are funny and bring the boys a ridiculous amount of sugar, which this (so called) friend did. Not only that, but after they'd consumed an inordinate amount of Hershey's and Red Vines, he proceeded to tell them stories about how I had tattooes. To which my middle kid embarrassingly and very matter of factly announced that 'No, we've seen mom naked lots of times and she doesn't have any tatooes."

Just so you know, I can' t help it and I've imbibed in the sugar fest. Why don't I just buy my own candy bar? I think it's because if I steal my kids' candy it doesn't have any calories.

I took a bite out of the middle kid's hershey bar. He saw that and gasped, "You have a big mouth, mom!" (Yes, all the better to yell at you with, my dear,..) So, now I'm sticking to the red vines, so much harder to tell when you steal those, what with the 1000 or so that come in the vat that is sitting in my cupboard.

So, on with February and Valentine's Day! More kid's candy to steal!

What is Beautiful?

I love this picture; it's the kids in the neighborhood in Banda Aceh, where we lived. Our boys had a hot and cold relationship with the gang; one minute they are all riding bikes up and down the roads, finding fish in the gutters and then my blondies were getting kicked off the football field for being horrible players (they were) and the kids would shout the f word for no apparent reason, exept that the f word, like love, is an international language all in its own right.

Living over there where we were, on an average street in a country where very few foreigners have entered because of thirty years of civil war, and then couple that with strict Sharia laws and teachings, made me feel like I was performing in that episode of the Twilight Zone where the cute blond girl (not that I am any of these three things) lived on another planet and they all thought she was ugly. Beauty is definitely in the eye fo the beholder and people do tend to gravitate to others they percieve to be the same as themselves. So, we were definitely the outcasts. From trash being thrown in our backyard and kids perching on the concrete wall heckling my boys, to me in a grocery store having a small girl point and scream "Boule, boule, boule!" at me, we certainly felt like that girl in the Twilight Zone at times.

One of my favorite books as a teenager was "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin. Way before Tyra donned a fat suit, this journalist spent some days as a black man, all for the experience. Now I, and I hope, my kids, know what it's like to be the outsider, the one not like the other, to paraphrase the Electric Company. I experienced this in Liberia, West Africa as a teenager, as well, when my dad, also a civil engineer (do we marry our fathers, or what?) would hike out in the 'bush' to survey for roads and bridges on his off days from training the Liberian army (of which Charles Taylor was a member of at the time, but that's another already published blog). But there we were treated with a little reverence. Especially me, the blond girl, carried against my will across streams and granted special adoption into one village because of my hair, and then given a chicken as a gift. Seriously.

All in the eye of the beholder,...

Okay, gotta get 5 kids ready and get my butt to work for a couple of hours. Caio.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Open Letter to VTech Corporation

Dear President of VTech Corporation,

I recently purchased a cute little yellow toy computer for my two year old as a Christmas present. I had bought a similar toy computer made by your company for my oldest child about ten years ago. He loved it, and consequently, my newest two year old loves hers as well. It is similar to mine, which I use constantly during the day, but much more fun looking. Having their own computer gains me a little more time in the day to type something before a little finger pokes the mouse button or pushes the enter key and sets off a whole domino effect of things I really don't want happening on my computer. But I digress.

As much as I appreciate this new toy, I must say that I don't appreciate the Screaming Monkey Button. I realize VTech used to make computers a long, long time ago and perhaps you still house residual computer programmers who think it is humerous to house an 'Easter Egg' somewhere on the toy computer, much like a real one. I feel this might be the case with the Screaming Monkey Button and I would like to let you know that it is not appreciated. I can handle a screaming monkey sound one or two times. But to have it continue to scream FOREVER after the toddler has tired wtih pushing the button, and have NO SHUT OFF KEY except to turn off the whole toy computer is really not fun. At all.

So, Mr. President, I hope you will remove this Screaming Monkey Button feature from subsquent toy computers you produce; or bundle the toy with a couple airline size bottles of scotch to relieve the frazzled nerves of parents everywhere as they try to unwind at the end of their day. Instead of singing an annoying song over and over in their brains, they instead have to contend with the echo of the Screaming Monkey Button.

And to the programmer who thought that whole Screaming Monkey Button concept was 'humerous' and 'silly'; may you have triplets in your future. All with colic. At different times.

Yours truly,

Karen Richardson