Saturday, June 13, 2009


My little family is wonderfully quirky.

Take my little Princess, for instance:

Princess is a very picky eater. Some things are typical "little-kid" picky things: she doesn't like "binchtables," she hates watermelon...all of these I can accept. But Princess takes picky to a new level.

She only eats the "good parts" of the food.

When she eats a peanut butter sandwich, she will return to me two absolutely clean pieces of bread carried in hands festooned with peanut butter.

When she eats a corn dog, the "shuckings" will be piled neatly on the plate with no trace of the hot dog that was in the center. (This is actually okay with me, as I continue to believe that the corn dog is actually a prank gone too far.)

She only eats the buttered side of her toast.

She sucks every noodle clean of alfredo sauce.

All of this I can accept and live with. But I can no longer be silent on the matter of kolaches.

A kolache, for those of you so unfortunate as to reside outside the land of Texas ("Land of the Free and Home of the Armed") or any other Bavarian-influenced cultural center, is a filled pastry. Here in Southeast Texas, the kolache is a savory pastry primarily consumed for breakfast and sold in most doughnut shops.

Imagine the kolache thusly: a warm, buttery yeast roll baked around savory cheese (which may or may not contain jalapenos) and sausage. (I know some people think kolaches can have ham or bacon, but I ignore them in public. I also know some people prefer their kolaches cheese-less, or "dry," and for them I believe jail time is warranted. Furthermore, real kolaches are only available at Snowflake Donut in Baytown, because they label their "hot" ones with a piece of jalapeno baked into the top of the roll, so you know what you're getting instead of the "surprise" hot ones that slip into your purchase elsewhere. But I digest.)

Princess only eats the "hot dog" out of her kolache, leaving the amazingly good and crusty bread and the savory warm cheese discarded on her plate like so much corn dog shuckings. This, of course, makes it necessary for Mommy to consume said leavings, lest they "go to waste."

The kicker: last night at dinner, Princess consumed her weight in calamari. Apparently there's no "yucky part" to deep-fried squid.

As for Dexy:

He will eat anything in the world, as long as it's not on his own plate. You can picture him easily, huge smile on his face, flitting from plate to plate, taking the choicest morsels, stuffing them in his face, and running like the wind. He is very protective of his own plate, though. The other day, Dexy took a Cheeto from Princess' plate (ignoring the pile on his own) and, chortling, ran off to eat it. Princess very calmly got up, went to Dexy's plate, and took two. Dexy cried for 30 minutes at the affront to his authority.

Dexy didn't care for the calamari. He did consume all of the bread.

As for Sven and me, our quirk is a simple one, but one that has been with us throughout the decade-plus of our relationship. I call it the Law of Groceries:

If both of us go to the grocery store and make a purchase designed to allow us to eat at home for a time period greater than one day, we cannot eat at home that day. It's just that simple.

Last night, we went to Sam's Club and stocked up on our "bulk" food needs. 50 bags of Cheetos, 48 bags of M&M's, and Q-tips. On the way out, we were ambushed by the Sample Lady who had prepared a chicken-and-four-cheese ravioli with fresh pesto. It was not only delicious, Dexy loved it, so we told ourselves, "Let's get it and we can have it for dinner when we get home." It would be quick, just heat-and-eat, really. I even bought some French bread to do some garlic toast (or Crustini, or whatever they're calling them now).

We spent between $3-400 at Sam's. On the way home, we were congratulating ourselves on how much money we'd save in the long run, that we had enough to make lunches at home for weeks and dinner at home for days, we'd even gotten breakfast foods the kids liked! Yes, no more eating out for us, no sir. Not for a long time.

Then we hit traffic.

By the time we got home, we literally left the car running while Sven and I hurriedly put the groceries away, then headed to Antonio's Italian Restaurant. The children were hungry enough to be well-behaved, and other than the guilt oozing from our pores at spending $50 on a meal out when we had just spent over $300 on groceries, a wonderful time was had by all.

We did skip dessert. I can sacrifice.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Word of the Week: Festoon

I was talking to Momz yesterday, and during the course of our conversation, I was able to use one of my favorite all-time words:


I don't know about you, but I don't festoon things enough. I should be downstairs right now, festooning something. Sure, my kids won't know I've been festooning, but I... I bet they'll know something special has happened.

The problem with "festoon" is it brings to mind cobwebs, as in the following sentence:

"The sad lady sat among the ruins of her long-past debutante ball, the once-jaunty decorations now festooned with cobwebs."

So can one deliberately festoon? According to Miriam Webster dictionary, here is the definition:

1 : a decorative chain or strip hanging between two points2 : a carved, molded, or painted ornament representing a decorative chain

Of course, both of those definitions are nouns, so that brings a whole new spin to the word. I cannot festoon, alas, because it is a noun. Though I know it is possible to make some nouns into verbs in the past tense (hence the "festooned" in the above sentence), present tense is just kind of weird.

However, I can BEDECK my wall with a FESTOON! Then my wall shall be FESTOONED with a FESTIVE ADORNMENT! I should stop now, before I cause a kerfuffle.

Ah. I should have been an English teacher.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Minister of New Media

I recently was appointed to a very high position in an exclusive club. The Kettle Social Club is an invitation-only Facebook group made up of a group of us who used to hang out at a 24-hour diner and philosophize, play chess, and swap lies. For whatever reason, I have been appointed Minister of New Media. (Before you get too impressed, my friend Danny is Minster of Midget Porn, a title that makes a lot of sense if you know Danny.)

The Kettle Social club started with Sven and his friend Zeb (short for Zebalebadingalingadingdongshoobop). Sven and Zeb have been friends since middle school. In college, they discovered that late nights combined with gallons of coffee and cartons of cigarettes rendered them intelligent and interesting, so they began hanging around at the Kettle every night. I began dating Sven in January of 1994 and was absorbed seamlessly into the group, bringing along my friends, who brought along their friends. Before we knew it, we had a "core group" of about 8 people, with additional pals that brought the group to as many as 20 people. We had some real characters.

Cowboy Dave, for example, was a pipe fitter, chess player, and AA sponsor who had the most colorful way of putting things. His standard greeting to me was, "Come sit on Paw-Paw's knee." To this day, Sven talks like Cowboy Dave when he's trying to be cute.

Drew was a bit older than most of us, and was a semi-professional magician who worked at the Texas Renaissance Festival. He would bring his latest card tricks to wow mostly me, who was the only one at the table who didn't get how they worked.

Danny, the aforementioned Minister of MP, was (at the time) an aspiring stand-up comedian whose humor was based on surprising you with something completely unexpected, then repeating it again and again until it was funny. One night he had me in stitches for hours by chanting "It's a human thumb!" and showing me his thumb. Really. You kind of had to be there.

Richard was the chess player in his 70's who left the group when he reconnected with his high school sweetheart, who he married.

Cowhig had a pet 'possum. I held it on my shoulder once.

Kim and Tom were our on-again, off-again couple.

Robert was an usher at my wedding.

Owen missed the wedding (he overslept) but he was there when my dad died.

I think my love for all of these folks can be summed up by the following quote from Danny, left on my Facebook wall:

"I've got a heart full of love and a hand full of smackin'."

And I know he means it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Beginning of Summer: How Things Change

During the school year, Sven and I have precious little time to parent. We leave the house before 7:00 a.m. (if we're on time) and the earliest I get the kids is 3:45. A more typical day has me getting there at 4:30 or even later. By the time we get them home and feed them, there's not much left. Each child has devised a way to combat this: Princess stays up all night, and Dexy only sleeps when he's in our bed. We figure it's only fair; they want to spend time with us at night since they can't during the day.

Enter summer. For 10-12 straight bewildering weeks, Sven and I are both stay at home parents. You can see the euphoria in the eyes of my children. Mommy and Daddy at our mercy 24 hours a day! Again, each has devised a particular way to take advantage of the additional Mommy/Daddy time.

Dexy is injuring himself to get kisses. I watched him yesterday slowly lower himself to the floor (picture big toddler belly and fat toddler legs), put his head on the linoleum, and gently bonk his head. He stood up, rubbing his head, and his eyes found me.

"Ouch," he moaned, sounding not at all like E.T.

"Oh, sweet baby," I crooned. "Do you need a kiss?" Eyes solemn, he nodded, presenting his golden little head for me to kiss. He has now thus "injured" himself approximately once every fifteen minutes for the past two days. I am now typing this one handed, since Dexy is in my left arm, a fistful of my hair and his own thumb providing comfort.

Princess, on the other hand, is alternating between really excellent behavior and tantrum-throwing brattiness. Sven has decided to deal with this by spending more time with her (yay!) and teaching her to be more like him (yay?). So far her innate femininity has conquered his attempt to get her to befriend the backyard junebugs (my least favorite outdoor summer flying non-biting insect) and wear t-shirts and shorts. On the other hand, she can name several different species of sharks and dinosaurs and demonstrated the correct way to throw a punch tonight.

We are so very grateful for the loves my kids have in common:

1. Swimming

2. Backyardigans (For Kristina: The Backyardigans is a show on Nickelodeon featuring three improbably-colored, incorrectly scaled animal kids (see image below) who imagine themselves in different situations each week. They dance and sing in different styles every week, familiarizing children with genres such as rap, zydeco, and Gilbert and Sullivan. Seriously. I love this show.)

3. Spongebob

4. Shrieking

5. Inappropriate TV (The Simpsons, Family Guy, Futurama, CNN)

The first part of every vacation is spent reasserting our dominance. Princess meets every command with "No" and Dexy just grins and runs away. I know it will be a rough couple of days, but a wonderful summer awaits us.


I hope.