Friday, November 30, 2007

And For Our Last Day...

of NaBloPoMo, I say a Happy Birthday to Big Nephew.

And I offer you another frightening toy. The boys received this little talking ornament from their grandmother. When it arrived last year, I looked at his ragged coat and crooked belt and said, "Wow, Santa looks like he's been on a bender." Then we pressed his belly and he talked, and the image was complete.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Final, Desperate Book Meme

This is a little appalling, but maybe it's just not the right list of books. Also, I don't have a lot of novels on my bookshelf, because I get most of them from the library.

What's appalling is that I crossed out many of the classics, because realistically, I haven't read them yet and I probably won't. And any book with "crypto" in the title is probably not the kind of light before-bed reading I tend to want.

Also, any classics I have read, I probably read in high school. And where's A Farewell to Arms? I actually remember liking that one.

Bold the ones you've read, italicise the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, and underline the ones on your book shelf!

The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Dune - Frank Herbert

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Things That Make Me Think I'm Losing My Mind

1. I used the same picture twice in the post below. I just noticed it now.

2. I use Zicam swabs a lot in a feeble attempt to ward off A.'s kindergarten cold cooties. I pulled one out the other day and completely forgot how to open the package. I stared at it for a minute and thought, "I open these all the time, and it's not that hard." But for the life of me I couldn't remember how to do it. I even thought, "Maybe this is a defective one - maybe it's upside down." But I knew it wasn't.

3. I've thought several times that we need to buy a nativity scene. I realized just today that we did buy a nativity scene - last year.

4. There was another one, but I forgot it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A.'s Decorating Tips for Kindergartners

(click above for larger image)

Are your parents not enthusiastic enough about your school work? Do you not get enough praise for your hard work? Try decorating the house with your school papers! Here are some tips:

1. Do your decorating after bedtime. Be quiet about it.
2. Use all the scotch tape in your supply. Don't ask Mama for more because that will just make her suspicious.
3. Tape your school work up in places they frequent the most - the bathroom, the hallway, the pantry.
4. Don't forget to put some in unexpected places, too - like the dining room.
5. Put a math one on your dad's closet so he won't need to use a calculator anymore.
6. Fall asleep and don't say anything about it.

They'll be thrilled when they go to bed and find the house covered in your school papers!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel for Topics

Sarah reminded me of our oven saga. We still haven't seen our oven, and we bought it almost a month ago. The first two they delivered had big scratches on the door, and for the money we spent we expect the scratch to at least be on the side.

Then the delivery guy said there weren't any more in the warehouse and suggested that we cancel our order. However, just the previous day, a different delivery guy told me there were several in the warehouse. I think the warehouse said, "Screw these guys. They're never happy and we don't feel like delivering any more ovens to them."

The salesperson was on our side (I bet he was - he doesn't get his commission if we cancel our sale), and said he'd send out another one. We haven't heard anything since. So Thanksgiving was a challenge, but it worked. Having a dinner party on Saturday was more of a challenge. The oven wouldn't get above 300 degrees and the fish wasn't cooking through. I told G. to fire up the grill, but we're out of propane. Out came the microwave for the finishing touches - i.e. destruction of possible illness-inducing bacteria.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We have a friend who has faithfully kept all his daughter's toys from the 70's in his garage, along with pretty much everything else he's ever owned. Forced to clear out the packed garage by his girlfriend, he has slowly been culling through these treasures and our boys are the beneficiaries of many odd and delightful things.

Last night, however, he brought this for the boys:

It's a Cookie Cop cookie jar. When you raise his chin to open the cookie jar, he blinks his eyes and yells, "Stop! Step away from the cookies!" The boys LOVE it. I have a feeling the batteries are going to mysteriously "die" very soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We babysat for our neighbor's two darling kids last night, and I do believe I'm past my desires for a third baby. Their little guy is 6 months old, and I didn't really remember having a 6 month old. Apparently I did, twice, but boy howdy does it seem like a long time ago. Carrying him around brought back hazy memories of doing everything with one hand and praying for the baby to stay asleep.

I like the arrangement we have now - I say goodnight to the boys at 8pm, say it again at 9pm and then don't see them until the next morning.

In a totally unrelated matter, we had guests over for dinner tonight. The grocery stores don't think anyone shops in the days after Thanksgiving, so they were short-staffed and a new baker at Safeway apparently ruined every loaf of french bread. The loaves were stacked up behind the cash register, looking pretty good. But the bakery lady said, "I could sell it to you, but you'd hate me. It's pretty much inedible."

And that's all I got today. Not much, but I'll be damned if I'm going to get this far with posting every day in November and then miss one.

Friday, November 23, 2007

And We're Off....

...into the Christmas season. Despite my hatred of Black Friday, I was up at 5:30 am and out the door into the freezing still-nighttime to get my family a new Sony Cybershot with a free printer for under $100. It came with a new printer, and now A. can have our old falling-apart digital camera and Santa doesn't have to blow his entire Xmas budget buying him a kiddie camera. I think I have a back spasm from shivering, though.

The biggest problem with Christmas shopping for me is that I am a sucker. Despite my whole attempt to reduce consumption, I fall very easily for the "You Need This Right Now to Make You Happy" kind of marketing. "Your Life is Full Already But Wouldn't This Make it Better?" works on me, too. I am determined to stay within a pre-alloted amount of money this year and I'm realizing that unless I shut myself inside with tinsel and eggnog, I'm going to have to work very hard to resist temptation.

By the way, the dinner from Whole Foods was very tasty. And best of all, you can heat the dishes up in the same containers they come in, so there are almost no pots to wash. What Thanksgiving always meant to me over the years was tons of pots, pans and dishes to wash. This one was a winner.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful for.....

1. Ready-made cookie dough
2. Movies on DVD
3. The internet
4. Coffee
5. Children that eventually stop screaming and start sleeping.

Yesterday, I was congratulating myself on having an entire family greet Thanksgiving healthy and not barfing, then G. called me at work to tell me that he'd had to pick up A. at school because his brain hurt and he had a fever. Sure enough. Dude is sick. He's better today, fortunately, but we did one of the things he's had on his "List of Things to Do" forever - we drove to the top of a mountain. Once at the top, he looked out at the view and said sadly, "I miss home." We turned around, stopped at Whole Foods for our complete Thanksgiving meal to go, and came home. So he's not 100% yet.

We don't have our oven because now both of the ovens they've delivered have had huge scratches on the doors. So I'm preheating our poor old oven right now (2:30pm), and hopefully it will be hot enough around tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Published on Wednesday, 11/21, I Swear!

This is annoying - I've been diligent about posting every day, and for some reason blogger thinks I did two posts on Tuesday, and none on Wednesday. If someone from NaBloPoMo is checking, I swear - I wrote the Santa one on Tuesday and the pumpkin pie one on Wednesday. Maybe it's a west coast time kind of thing.


How to make a Pumpkin Pie, by A. He relates the recipe he learned in kindergarten.

4 eggs
1 can of "pumpk" (he swears this is what it's called when it's in a can - his teacher told him this and she's never wrong and he never misunderstands her :::insert rolling eyes here::::)
2 cans of Dissolvable Milk (I think he means evaporated, but see above)

First you need to crack the eggs and then put the powder and sugar and cinnamon in, and then put in the can of "pumpk" and then you need to pour the 2 cans of dissolvable milk. First one, then the other. Then you mix it all together. Then you bake it at 100 degrees for an hour.

In Which Santa Discusses Death and Genetics

For no good reason, I was exhausted this afternoon so I had to get the boys out of the house or I'd fall asleep. We returned some library books, then went to visit Santa at the mall. A. was still in his uniform and Ben wasn't dressed up but I figured it would probably be slow and the boys could get used to talking to Santa before we go for the real pictures.

Santa has been OK at this mall before, but they hired a new one this year. His beard is real, which earns him some street cred, but otherwise, he's pretty sketchy. I don't know what I'd expect from a mall that has this sign in the food court (scroll down). He looked a little drunk. It was also pet night with Santa, so we followed two dogs dressed in Santa hats. Since we weren't taking pictures, I went up and kneeled in front while the boys stood next to Santa.

He was very, um, jolly. Some of his better lines:

"I bet you're from Hoboken with that hair! Are you from Hoboken?"

"You know, eventually your hair will be white like Santa's. By that time your mom will be over the rainbow bridge." Great. Next time we visit Santa, A.'s going to be pleading, "Please, Santa, don't let my mom die." And besides, isn't that where pets go?

"Kids like you today have the E gene. Do you know what that stands for? Electronics."

After Ben told him he wanted Little Einstein's toys: "You want a bagel? Oh, I thought you wanted a bagel, because Einstein makes bagels. Did you know that?"

I came home and researched the heretofore unknown Einstein/bagel link. We don't have them here in Northern California, so that was quite random to me. I was thinking Einstein invented bagels or something and wondering how I could have missed that piece of trivia.

Pretty much everything he said was random to the boys, though, and I quickly explained that wasn't the real Santa, because the real Santa doesn't say such weird things. That was Santa's brother. He has lots of brothers who take the jobs at the malls and look just like him, and who take the kid's lists back to him at the North Pole. The idea of a brother saying weird things made perfect sense to them.

And because it was pet day, everytime he hugged A. (I think he was glad to see some visitors without 4 legs), A. got dog hair all over his face and walked away sneezing. Poor guy.

Tomorrow: A.'s Very Special Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Monday, November 19, 2007

We are traveling to Portland for Christmas. Last night, after bedtime, A. dragged out his sturdy TtFTE backpack and packed it for the trip. He is clearly his father's child. I try to pack at the last minute because what if I need something and I already packed it? G, on the other hand, will be packed almost a week ahead of time. A. is actually about 5 weeks ahead, so he beats us all. When he was done, he set it out in the front room, where we gather our suitcases the night before our trips. He is ready to go.

This morning he wanted to show us how well he'd packed by unpacking it, reviewing the items and packing it back up again.


  • A baby afghan (handknit by Beastie. Upon review, he said, "I packed a baby blanket - I was confused and thought it was a blanket for a 5-year-old!")
  • Two shower visors
  • All of his coins ("In case Neighbor Preschooler gets into our house while we're gone and takes all my money" - Neighbor Preschooler has been known to sneak into our house, but only if the door's unlocked. So far.)
  • Several sheets of Halloween stickers
  • His self-penned 4th of July memoir, "A.'s Book of Fireworks"
  • Two rubber sharks
  • TtFTE slippers (even though we just bought him new SpongeBob slippers, he swears the Thomas ones could still fit if he wanted them to)
  • a small Cookie Monster figure
  • 3 dinosaur stamps
  • Sally from Cars the Movie
He wanted to pack for Ben, too, but I pointed out that Ben may want to play with his favorite toys sometime in the next month and a half.


We've been pretty diligent about teaching the boys to clean up messes they make. Ben tries, but our efforts are at least partially canceled out by his desire to imitate his older brother. Today when he dropped a bunch of yogurt-covered raisins on the floor, he told me quickly, "I'm sorry I didn't spill dat." Then: "I meant to do dat."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"They all scoffed at the youngest member of the clan for putting too many chocolate candies on his cookie. But guess which cookie they thought tasted the best when all was said and done?"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We recently bought a really nice (for us) gas range. I'm excited about it because our current range was new with the house but it's the cheapest of the cheap, didn't even have an indicator showing when the oven had reached the set temperature, and has recently decided it can't tolerate heat above 300 degrees, if at all. Sometimes it just doesn't turn on at all. Last night I ended up moving the pan of roasting vegetables out to our grill and I'm still trying to clean the torched-on food off the pan.

So it took them a week and a half to deliver it. I said, "OK, you can deliver it Saturday, but it has to be before 3pm because we're leaving. Anytime before 3pm is fine. We'll be here all day before that."

Day before delivery they call: "We'll be delivering sometime between 1 and 4 tomorrow."

Me: "Um, ok, but it had better be before 3pm. Any time, all day long, until 3pm." They had to install it and hook up the gas, and we were leaving around 3:45pm.

Them: "I'll put a note to try to do it before 3, but of course we can't guarantee it."

I said, "OK, but if they get here after 3:30pm, we won't be here. Just so you know."

Today at 3:50pm as we're locking the front door, the phone rings. We hear the answering machine click on....."This is Airport Appliance and we'll be there in 10 minutes." Click.

G and I to each other, "Oh well." And left. When we got home there was a note and a message on the machine saying, "Our delivery person is standing in front of your house."

Now they say they'll deliver it Tuesday, but what do you want to bet they manage to arrive in the 10 minute window at 2:35pm during which we pick up A. from school? We may have a cold Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, I take that back - we can always grill it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Here's how the color turned out:

G says: "Oh! Um, yeah. It looks good. It'll look even better after a few shampoos."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 15 - Halfway There

So I just finished Season 1 of Heroes, and that is one badass show. It was awesome. I even skipped Grey's Anatomy to finish the finale. I can watch Grey's tomorrow. I love that the networks are putting the shows online for those of us who don't have Tivo. And shouldn't Lost be starting soon?

I am taking the plunge and coloring my hair. Remember the angst about what color my hair was? I got tired of it and the increasing gray and I'm trying an "all natural" hair color that hopefully will brighten up the red a little, cover the gray, and make me look like I'm related to my son.

A. has been very into delivering "mail" lately. After we kiss him goodnight, he sneaks out his markers and paper and makes mail for all of us in his bedroom. I got a "Happy Thanksgiving" card tonight (he did come out briefly to ask "How do you write Happy Thanksgiving? I know it has an F in it..."), a sheet with "Go Mama Go Mama" and some big hearts with "A. loves Mama." Very sweet. Ben also gets mail delivered to his crib. I'll go in to pull his covers up and he'll be covered with 3-4 sheets of paper saying, "A. loves Ben," the alphabet and some shapes - "So he can learn," A. tells us. We tape them to the wall above Ben 's crib.

Then A. tells us, "You know, you could make me some mail, too, if you wanted to." If he tells us this around 9pm, when we're saying, "OK, buddy, really, you have to stay in bed," he expects mail by 10pm. I made a little picture of us holding hands and wrote "Mama loves A." It's a really cute phase but it sure does use a lot of paper.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Nomination for Worst Blind Date Ever

Almost 10 years ago, in between G. and I ending our relationship and G. realizing we should get married and have kids and stuff, I had a blind date so bad it still embarrasses me.

I was on, and met some nice guys. I was very careful about who I met in real life, and if the guy wanted to meet too soon I said forget it. I don't know if it's still like this, but I got so many replies to my profile, I could be pretty picky.

So this guy seemed nice enough through his e-mails and was willing to wait to meet. I thought signing "Sunshine and Joy, R." to his e-mails was a little cheesy, but whatever, it wouldn't hurt to meet him for coffee. He wasn't my favorite of the guys I was e-mailing with, but you just never know who will turn out to be your soul mate, you know?

As I waited for him at the coffee shop, I realized I had never seen his picture. Hmmm. Usually guys are eager to exchange photos pretty quickly. Again, whatever. Hopefully he would recognize me.

So I heard this, "Lunasea?", turned around and did this huge double take where I focused on a spot about 7 inches over my head (G is about 7 inches taller than me - that's what I was used to) and had to very deliberately lower my head to find this guy who I swear was shorter than I. I'm only 5' and I actually think I may be remembering this wrong - maybe he was 5'2", but it sure seemed like he was shorter than I was.

He smiled, and I noticed he was missing teeth. Now, missing teeth is not necessarily a problem if they're in the back of the mouth, and perhaps I'm being too picky, but I do prefer guys I date to have their front teeth intact.

So I was still thinking, "Hey, have an open mind. Maybe this is a diamond in the rough." We ordered our coffee, he did not offer to pay for mine (fine), and we found a table, where he told me the trouble he had taking the train up to the city. He had to take the train up to the city because he didn't have a car. He used to have a bicycle, but darn the luck, he brought it with him on the bus one day and forget to take it when he got off, and would you believe they couldn't find it when he called the transit office TWO days later?

He worked at Kinko's. He was very excited because they had finally allowed him to work inside the store and use the register. Before that I guess he was breaking down boxes in the back or something. He let me in on all the Kinko secrets that they learn in training. He was really sure he had a future there, even though he applied for the open assistant manager position and they didn't even acknowledge his application, which baffled him a little, but he wasn't taking it personally.

By this time I was starting to feel sorry for this guy, but want to be polite, so I ask him about his family. He's close to his brother - too bad his brother has to stay in Oregon and can't come back to California because he has outstanding warrants in Santa Clara County.

He'd spent a night in jail himself - he told me all about it but I don't remember what it was for because the whole time he was talking about it I was thinking, "Are you kidding me? We're meeting for the first time and you're telling me about your night in jail and your fugitive brother?"

I made small talk with him for about 45 minutes, we talked about how I was a ph.d. student (my nickname on was psykphd2be, and he couldn't figure it out) and by the end I couldn't even think of a good exit excuse. All I could come up with was "So. I'm ready to go." No excuse, no "I have another appointment to get to," just, "So. I'm ready to go."

He walked me out, and suggested we go see a movie on our next date - "How 'bout 'You've Got Mail' since it's how we met?" He thought that would be cute. I was afraid he was going to follow me all the way to my car.

I gave him the standard, "It was very nice meeting you, but I don't think it's going to work to see you again." I walked kind of slow because I really really didn't want to drive him back to the train station. I also didn't want him to know which car was mine.

He freaked out. "What? What? How can you say that? How can you possibly know after only talking to me for an hour?" Well, buddy, I knew after 30 seconds - the extra 59 minutes was a gift.

I said, "I just don't think the chemistry is there. You're a nice guy, though, and I wish you the best of luck."

He retorted, "But we have so much in common!"

I was stunned into silence because all I could think of was, "LIKE WHAT????" He started turning all red and puffy and I thought he might cry. I prayed, Oh sweet jesus get me out of here.

I got a little more firm and said, "I'm sorry. It's just not going to work. You need to go home now."

He sputtered a little, walked a few steps, made like he was going to turn around a couple of times to talk to me, saw my frosty glare, and stomped away.

I went home, and he must have booked it on the train because by the time I got home, just a 25 minute drive, he'd already sent a hostile e-mail to me asking how I can possibly say I care about people when I won't even give him a chance, and if I just gave him a chance I'd see that we were meant to be together, he really felt something between us, and he couldn't believe I wasn't going to give him a chance after he took the train all the way to the city, yada yada yada. Dude had a relationship with me already formed in his fantasies, and it was like I was breaking up with him.

I e-mailed back and told him that "no" means "no", and don't contact me again. I blocked his e-mail. He e-mailed from a friend's account, saying, "I'm e-mailing this from a friend's account because you said you'd block mine." I'm not sure if I was supposed to be impressed by his persistence, and say, "Oh gosh, I guess you really do like me - I've changed my mind!" Instead, I consulted with my police officer friends who told me to ignore him and not respond back, so I didn't and never heard from him again. 6 months later G and I were engaged.

But every time I pass that Kinko's.....I get a little nervous.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Day 13

So you're in a grocery store. You head down an aisle, walking between a lady and the shelves of bread she is examining. Do you say "excuse me" as you pass between her and the shelves she's looking at?

Of course you do. But no one under 25 does - when did this die? It's one of my little pet peeves. I used to spend a lot of time in bookstores (pre-child) and it always bugged me when even the store employees couldn't say "excuse me." Dude, you're still walking right between me and the books I'm looking at. Would it kill you to acknowledge it?

I thought of it today because a girl, maybe 11 or 12, was grocery shopping with her grandma (I think) and we passed each other several times in the store. You know how sometimes you're just on the same grocery trajectory as someone else? Anyway, each time she had to walk in front of me while I was looking at the shelves, she said, "Excuse me." Blew me away. I liked her. I liked her and her grandma a lot. I almost started stalking them in a polite kind of way.

And that may very well be the weakest blog post I've ever written.

To reward your loyalty, here are some photographs I took of my beautiful boys with my super-cool new camera. My coolness quotient is raised at least 20% just by carrying it around.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 12

Every holiday or so, I get this idea to do something with the kids that seems like a simple craft but turns out to be much more complicated that I realized. Last Christmas it was our shrinky-dink window charms. For A's b-day, it was the papier mache dinosaur eggs.

And for Thanksgiving, it is this deceptively simple leaf banner:It says "Happy Thanksgiving," if that's not obvious. Each one of these leaves has been carefully cut out (by me), painted (by the boys), had a carefully cut out (by me) letter glued on (by A. until he got bored and then by me), had two holes punched in it and a maroon ribbon strung through (all by me).

Just getting the letters done was a pain in the neck. I had to choose a font, remember how to switch to mirrored type, change it to outline mode so it wouldn't use up so much ink, and remember to switch the page orientation to "landscape." I forgot to do each one of those things at least once for both pages I tried to print. And, of course realizing one of my mistakes, I fed the paper back into the printer so it could print on the other side - way to save paper, right? WRONG - if you are cutting the letters out and there's printing on both sides of the paper, you're going to have funky striped letters. Duh.

Damn thing's finally up now. Happy Goddamn Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving - no one has accepted our invitation to dinner. Did word of the Undercooked Turkey Fiasco of '01 get out? Or perhaps they heard how we spread the noro virus to one whole side of our extended family last year at Thanksgiving? We're thinking of scrapping cooking entirely (although our new stove should be here by then) and going out to eat.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We Have a Question!

Hey everybody, we have a question! Step right up to the mike, please....

My only experience w/ therapy was marriage couseling. We went to ONE session where Hubby and therapist both told me "our" marriage problems stemmed from me and that i should come back alone...

I felt like a sacrificial lamb slain on the altar.

I never went back and I didn't leave hubby - regretfully most days truth be told - but I have a question to add:

How can you convince someone that they should go to therapy? I'm convinced someone I know - okay it's my Mom- would benefit immensely.

What's the best approach to use when she truly believes that you must be nuts to need a shrink?

First off, I can understand why you felt ganged up on in that first marriage counseling session. I'd just like to posit an alternate scenario - maybe the therapist felt that your husband was not going to change or was not amenable to therapy and wanted to meet with you individually to help you evaluate your options. I, of course, have no idea if this was the case, but I can say that that's happened to me several times. I'm not going to say in front of the husband (or wife, as the case may be), "Sweetie, you married a 12-year-old. Couples counseling is going to have limited effect here." But maybe the wife seems workable, so I'll suggest that we work together individually first.

And addressing the second question - remember the old joke asking how many psychiatrists it takes to change the light bulb? Answer: Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change. That's true of your mom, too. Anyone who really accepts that he/she need help is usually willing to look for it. There are plenty of counseling resources around showing that lots of people who are not nuts go to a shrink. Your mom is finding excuses not to seek help.

To people in your position, I usually suggest you consult with a therapist to help you deal with the difficult position you're in. Surprise! What else am I gonna suggest? But seriously, often the best way to persuade someone that therapy works is to be a walking advertisement. Maybe when your mom sees how well you're handling your life and how happy you are, she'll be more willing to pursue it as an option for herself.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Therapy FAQ, Part II

I thought of another one:

1. Why can't I just talk to my friends?
You can, and should. If that's enough, awesome.
But have you ever tried talking to a friend and had them either make it all about them, change the subject before you were done, or give you advice you didn't want or need? I've also found that lots of people don't really want to tell their friends everything.
A therapist is trained to keep the focus on you. Also, they're trained to spot potential problems like alcoholism or drug dependence, obsessive thoughts and compulsions. They can also help you get out of your own way, where a friend might be more like, "Yeah! Dump that no-good loser! How dare he go out with his friends!" or "C'mon - let's go get drunk." A therapist is probably not going to suggest that. (To their clients, at least). They also know how to keep secrets. And most of them are not that easily shocked. Believe me.
Another reason is that parts of the psyche are fragile. A therapist is trained to know when to push or confront you on something, and when to tread very carefully.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Therapy FAQ

I have this idea for a blog. It would be called "Ask A Shrink," and the point would be to demystify psychology and psychotherapy. No one knows what happens in therapy except people already in therapy. Here's my beginning FAQ about therapy.

1. What's the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists?
Psychiatrists are M.D.s - medical doctors - who specialize in psychiatry, like others specialize in surgery or internal medicine. They can prescribe medicine. Some, but not all, also do psychotherapy. Most manage medications and send patients to someone else to do the therapy.
Psychologists have Ph.D.s., not M.D.s - they can't prescribe meds (yet - there's a move to get prescription privileges). If they're Clinical Psychologists or Licensed Psychologists, they also have a state license to practice. Some of the experience requirements vary from state to state, but the test they take to get licensed is a national test.
Each state also has its own brand of masters-level clinicians. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) all do psychotherapy, too. The requirements vary from state to state although LCSWs are pretty standard, and MFTs are trying to standardize across the nation.
BTW, as far as I know (will be googling this soon, I suppose), all states have some sort of master's license, but in some states you don't actually need a license to practice psychotherapy.

2. Does going to therapy mean I'm crazy?
No. In the field, "crazy" means psychotic. Psychotic means someone has broken with reality - they're either seriously delusional or having hallucinations. Many of us in private practice don't see those with serious psychoses.

3. What do people do in therapy?
In a nutshell: They talk about what's bothering them. They get almost an hour to focus on themselves, and they get someone else to listen carefully and reflect back and ask questions. This process helps people think through whatever's bothering them.

4. Why is it so expensive?
Because just like you, we have to make a living. Personally, I wish I could charge depending on how difficult the case/client is. Some would be over $200, some would just be $50, maybe. But given the time I take on each case and the paperwork involved, I probably average about $30/hour.

5. Why are you guys so guarded about it?
Because the last thing we want to tell people in a social setting is what we do for a living. Want to make a group of people at a party nervous? Tell them you're a psychotherapist.

6. Do therapists really sleep with their clients?
Not the ethical ones who want to keep their license. It's very much against the ethical code. In a big way. Unfortunately, it does happen, as evidenced by the disciplinary action listings in my professional magazines. Makes me crazy that it's as prevalent in the movies as it is.

7. How do you sit and listen to people's problems all day long?
I'm not just listening to their problems, I'm listening to their stories. Everyone has a story. And fortunately, I think the human mind and how it works is fascinating. Also, not everyone is in crisis at once. That helps.

OK. Those are the general ones I can think of right off the top of my head. Can anyone think of any more? Shoot.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why I Won't Ever Be A Millionaire

Things I thought were stupid ideas:

1. Text messaging. Remember the first commercials with the people on the ski lift texting each other? G. and I said to each other, "Who'd want to do that? Why not just talk to the person?"

2. Dancing With the Stars. Again, the first commercials with the "stars" none of us recognized: "Ew. Who'd watch that?" Many people, apparently.

3. Cell phone cameras. The commercials showed a girl sitting next to a guy, whose picture she snapped with her camera and then sent to her friend. Huh? How useful would taking a tiny little picture with your camera be?

And that's why I won't ever be a millionaire.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Being Anti-Social is in Good Taste

"Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved."

That's in the student handbook at Mascoutah Middle School in Illinois, where 13-year-old Megan Coulter got two days of detention for giving a quick hug goodbye to two friends. When I saw the headline, I thought for sure she'd given the hugs against her friends' wills or something. But no, The Powers That Be just don't like affection of any sort shown at any time, period.

What do you think they were after when they wrote the policy? No making-out between couples? Maybe even no hand-holding, which was as affectionate as any of the romances in my middle school got? OK, I could see that.

If that's the case, they should have said so, because as it's worded, it sounds like that early 20th century parenting advice warning mothers against hugging their children. Since when is affection in poor taste? Exactly when does it reflect poor judgement? Does anyone really think that if you let 'em hug each other, next thing they'll be doing is having sex right there on the sidewalk?

I hope someone organizes a hug-in.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Day 6

And I'm resorting to a meme. I don't do these very often, though, but I do like them.

4 jobs I've had:

Assistant to the Publisher
Assistant Editor
Assitant Store Manager

4 movies I can watch over and over:

A Mighty Wind
Dead Again
It's a Wonderful Life

(I'll probably come back and edit this as I think of other movies I like better)

4 places I've lived:

Rohnert Park
Hayward (all in CA)

4 TV shows I love:

The Office
Big Love

4 places I've vacationed:


4 of my favorite dishes:

My mom's beef stroganoff
filet mignon w/ blue cheese

4 sites I visit daily:

Biggest Loser board

4 places I would rather be right now:

A spa, anywhere
In bed

Monday, November 05, 2007

Day 5

Ah geez, I have to post tonight and I'm brain dead. I had a turkey sandwich for lunch.

Oh, but I did make this awesome butternut squash soup the other day that I had for dinner tonight. I have a talent, I must say, with the butternut squash. I put in two apples, shallots, a little bit of butter, milk and garlic and it was awesome. I also made a potato leek that wasn't too great. It was OK, but kind of bland. Probably needed some garlic.

Can we agree that next year we all wait until after Halloween to put up the Christmas decorations? Remember a long long long time ago when the Christmas season didn't start until after Thanksgiving? I realize that's too long to ask retailers to wait, but I think August is pushing it. I'm pretty sure Macy's was completely decorated for Christmas by October 1. That's just wrong.

OK. There's my opinion for the day. Oh dear. Day 5 and I've run out of things to talk about.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Day 4

Today A. made a big red wooden sign for the backyard. It's to be posted near a bush and it says, "DANGER! Bumblebees here! Don't go near this bush!" It seems his friend is afraid of bees and pointed the hazard out to him last time they were in the backyard. A. takes his hosting responsibilities very seriously.

I realized as I drove home from work tonight that most of my advice in couples' counseling boils down to, "Be nicer to each other."

We took the boys to a Lutheran church around the corner from us because they actually have a Sunday School. The boys were great during the service, except Ben kept turning to me and stage whispering, "No shouting, Mama!" For the record, I don't believe I was shouting.

I also realized as I drove home from work tonight that most of my advice in individual counseling boils down to, "You're a grown-up now and get to decide what to do yourself."

I'm in love with the show "Heroes." I missed it last season, and am catching up with the season 1 DVDs. I've decided that this is the way to do it. Yes, I'm a year late, but I get to watch a new episode every night! No waiting for next week (or longer!). I can also watch the episode, digest it, then watch it again, immediately if I had the time, with commentary! Yes, this is definitely the way to do it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Day 3

I'm on Pacific Time, remember, so it's still Day 3 here.

Ben picked up Neighbor Baby's chew toy (I guess it's a teething toy if it's a baby's and not a dog's) that the baby had dropped and handed it back to him, telling him, "But das da las' time!"

Ben to A., thrusting his belly out towards him: I'm gonna kill ya wif my belly-button!

A., playing with older boys, has picked up the "killing" game. I won't buy him toy guns, so he builds them with his legos, and he and his little friends "kill" each other. I hate it and although I won't forbid it, tell him why I don't like it. I also tell Ben, Master Imitator, that we don't say we're going to kill each other in this family.

So he tries to come up with other things to say when he's mad. If he's mad at me, he usually ends up snarling, "You are da worst!"

To A., he's made the belly-button comment and he's also yelled, "You are not going to give me away, Aidan!" I heard the entire fight, by the way, and A. never said anything about giving Ben away. It was just all he could think of at the moment.

And I leave you with a picture of the banner A. made for my birthday last weekend:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Day 2

I have always been fascinated by cemeteries. Yesterday A. surprised me by asking to stop at a cemetery near our house. "Awww....a chip off the ol' block," I thought. He wondered what the little stone houses were, and I explained how rich people sometimes had them built so that everyone in the family could be buried together.

We walked around a little and he asked me to read the headstones to him. I did, and we stopped at one that read "You finally made it to the stars..."

"He probably always wanted to visit the stars," A. suggested.

"Yep. Maybe he wanted to be an astronaut," I suggested.

"And heaven is up in the sky," he said.

"Well, that's our best guess. Nobody really knows where heaven is," I told him.

"But I'll find out when I die and go to heaven - I'll know where it is then," he said.

"Yes, you will. And if I'm already there, I'll be waiting for you," I said.

"Yep, and Papa will be waiting for you. And then I'll be waiting for Ben. And then we'll all be in heaven!" he said. He thinks people die in their order of birth.

"That's right." I agreed.

"Mama, we have to get us one of those!" he said, pointing to a private mausoleum.

I did my dissertation on terminally ill children and their concepts of death. One of the things I discovered in the literature was that terminally ill kids whose parents didn't talk about death ended up not believing anything the parent told them. They only believed what they secretly overheard.

I hate it when parents pretend like death doesn't exist. Or they'll explain it quickly, but avoid it when it comes up in movies and books. I don't want to unnecessarily cause anxiety, but I have to believe that if they see I'm not afraid to talk about it, they won't be, either. It remains to be seen if I'll have a similar attitude towards sex.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day 1

I'm all for extending Daylight Savings Time, but I don't think anyone realized the ramifications it would have for trick-or-treating. 5:30 - 6:00 or so is a great time to take the little guys out, but it was still super light out and people looked like deer caught in the headlights when we rang their bell.
Here are the boys helping with the pumpkins. This lasted about 10 minutes, then they watched a movie while I scooped and carved all three pumpkins.

Regular readers (i.e. maybe my family) will recognize the mummy heads from last year. A. designed the pumpkin with the eyebrows, and Ben requested a "happy face" pumpkin.

I have more pics to upload but Blogger is being difficult, so we'll have to wait.

In between clients yesterday, I raced to A's school to see the costume parade, and got there just in time for class pictures and goodbye. It was just the kindergarten parading, because the 1-3rd grades do their parade in the afternoon. And it's not a Halloween costume parade, either, for the older kids....the teacher handed us a list of significant historical figures (like "Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the Taj Mahal was built,") and told us that each elementary student chose one of these figures and dressed up as that person, along with preparing an oral report on that person's significance. Wow, way to take the fun out of Halloween. "Maybe we should transfer him to Catholic School next year," I suggested to G.

It was a very multicultural list, befitting a very multicultural school, but it would be just like A. to choose "Sachin Tendulkar, Cricketeer" because it's a fun name to say - and that's not a costume they carry at Target.

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