Thursday, December 23, 2010

Open Letters

Dear Barbie,

The "wrapping paper" I purchased recently at Toys "R" Us bearing your likeness was surprisingly substandard.  It tore when I sneezed near it.  Once a present was wrapped, the gift was clearly visible through your sparkling ball gown.  While I'm sure it meets opacity and durability standards for eastern European toilet paper, calling this substance "wrapping paper" is both misleading and ironic.  As I know you have a great deal of integrity, I'm sure you will be issuing a public apology in prominent national newspapers posthaste.


Dear Dolce & Gabbana:

If I wanted my husband to smell like Matthew McConaughey, I would have him mow the lawn three times and smoke a bong.  I certainly would not purchase your cologne, especially after seeing your commercial 14 times in two hours (by actual count).


Dear Person Who Wrote the Song "Christmas Shoes":

I get it.  Christmas is very commercial and materialistic, and we should all feel grateful for what we have.  But this song is not the way to accomplish that.  Making me vomit on my own sympathy for some mythical child who manages to find his way (alone) to a major mall right before Christmas to buy shoes for his bed-ridden mother so she can look good when she dies is not the way to make me feel grateful for what I have.  It's like those annoying Facebook statuses like, "Post this if you want to help fuzzy bunnies not get run over by snowplows.  93% of people won't have the courage to post this, will you be one of the 7% who care?"  Really?  If you care, go outside, pick up the damn fuzzy bunny, and move it out of the way of the snowplow, because the fuzzy bunny isn't inside reading Facebook and nodding to itself self-righteously.  But I digress.

Whoever you are, if I meet you in public, I will beat you roundly about the head and shoulders with MY shoes.

With great affection,


See you all in 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Day With the Girls

As some of you may already know, I have patterned my life after Miss Vida Boheme from the film To Wong Foo: Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar.

Aside from minor anatomical differences, I think I'm doing pretty well.  Since Princess is now five years old, I thought it was time for us to have Vida's patented "Day With the Girls."  First, we dressed in our best:

Our day consisted of an elegant lunch together at Saltgrass Steak House in Galveston:

We then went to a matinee of "The Nutcracker" at the 1894 Grand Opera House:

Princess in front of the Christmas tree

Princess in her seat

We were very close to the stage, so we could see everything.

Just the girls!

But remember, some of us are still only five!

It was a wonderful day.  For the record, Sven and Dexy had a very manly day, consisting of going to the movies ("Megamind"), eating junk food, and sleeping in the recliner.

Princess was jealous.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

As I Blanch at the Thought of it All

Hello, Folksy Friends!  Today you will be hearing from Deb, the etiquette aficionado, regarding the thorny issue of gift-giving.

(Deb, as you know, is something of an etiquette maven (maven: a bird with wings of unequal length) and possesses the following qualities: she is judgmental and refers to herself in the third person.)

'Tis the season for joy and social awkwardness, and also for gift giving.  To whom do we give gifts?  Is it ever polite to refuse a gift?  Do I really have to write a thank-you note for every gift?  Is there ever a time when we must give gifts?  Relax, Deb already knows.  She's just asking to make herself look smarter when she answers.

1. To whom do we give gifts?  In theory, anyone, but in reality, only those with whom one has a relationship that makes a gift appropriate.  The gift should be in proportion to the intensity of the relationship in terms of money; it is inappropriate to give an expensive gift to someone who could not be reasonably expected to reciprocate, as in the following exchange:

Co-Worker 1: Mildred, thank you so much for the can of Pringles and scratch-off lottery tickets.
Mildred: And thank you for the Tiffany key ring.
Co-Worker 1: Indeed.

Giving gifts in the work environment can be tricky, which is why I hate to do it.  I do it, though, at the last minute, every year.

2. Is it ever polite to refuse a gift?  Short answer: usually not.  There are inappropriate gifts, such as the ones Deb receives from her stalkers that include medical waste, but a well-intentioned gift should usually be accepted.  If a gift has been brought to an event at which there are no other gifts, the gift should be set aside, opened later, and thanked with a personal letter.  The exception, of course, is if you are a young, unmarried woman of unquestionable virtue who receives a gift of clothing, jewelry, or something of extreme value from a gentleman, and it is 1909.  In that case, the gift would be returned with a gracious yet frosty, "I'm afraid our relationship does not permit me to accept gifts of this value."

3. Do I have to write a thank-you letter for every gift I receive?  While Deb, of course, routinely writes thank-you letters for everything, including some to dogs who refrain from decorating her lawn, the answer to this is no.  If a gift is opened in the presence of the giver, thanks should be verbally issued then.  No follow-up thank-you letter is necessary.  A gift that is not, however, must be acknowledged, and the correct way is with a letter.  Some relationships may permit phone calls, but Deb pretends that doesn't happen.

4. Is there ever a time when we must give gifts?  Of course.  Don't kid yourself.  Etiquette's official stance, "A gift is never required," is misdirection intended to fool greedy hosts who believe a social event can actually yield a profit if done correctly.  A gracious guest would never attend any of the following events without a tangible gift:

  • A shower (wedding or bridal)
  • A birthday party (regardless of the age of the recipient)
  • A formal dinner
  • A wedding
  • A bar or bat mitzvah
  • An overnight or extended visit
A "tangible gift" is just that: a gift that one can physically put into the hand of another person, that the recipient can then, in theory, put to some purpose.  Gifts can be consumable (food, flowers, tickets) or more permanent.  They do not have to be expensive, but they should be thoughtful.  (In fact, Deb is of the opinion that the less expensive a gift is, the more thoughtful it tends to be, because people with financial restrictions tend to be more creative when it comes to gift-giving.  A gift of money, including gift cards, tends to be larger in terms of financial worth because of the lack of creativity and thought involved.)

And now, Deb would like to address the notion that one's "presence" is "present" enough.  No, it isn't.  I'm sure that the hosts will say it is, or even sincerely feel that it is, but no guest can be considered "gracious" who goes through the following thought process:

  1. I've been invited to this wedding.
  2. I don't want to give them a present.
  3. They should just be grateful I deigned to attend at all.
  4. My presence is enough.
Unless one's last name is "Winfrey," there is absolutely no justification for anyone to think this way.  This is one of those classic etiquette disparities between the expectations of hosts and guests.  Hosts should be grateful that guests decided to take the time to attend their events.  Guests should feel grateful that hospitality was extended to them and they were included in such a special time.  Neither side should sit back and say, "Well, they should just be happy and shut up about it."  Guests, give your gifts.  Hosts, say thank you.  Life will be much more gracious.

And goodness knows, we need more graciousness.  Deb is going to lie down now.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Accepting a Compliment

I've been at my current school for four years.  The first year I was there I gave birth to Dexy in November. As someone who is not exactly petite, the added weight of pregnancy made me easily one of the largest women on campus, if not Earth.

Unfortunately, the weight just kept coming, leading my (hopefully) well-meaning students to make comments like, "Are you having another baby?" or "Did you have that baby? 'Cause your stomach is still all big."  This led to Deb conducting several Teachable Moments in which she taught students that it Isn't Polite To Comment on Someone's Weight.  (Lecture available to the interested.)  By the end of last year, the comments had largely (ha!) gone away.

I taught my lesson well.  Not one student has commented on my 80-pound weight loss.  I thought, perhaps, they just didn't notice.  Perhaps, I reasoned, I don't look all that different, so the kids don't know I'm losing weight.

Excuse me while I bitterly wipe a tear of laughter from my bleary eyes.  Kids notice everything.  How do I know?  One of my fifth-graders had the following exchange with his mother, who works at the school.  (She shared it with me later, I wasn't hiding in a cabinet spying or anything.)

Kid: Mom, have you noticed Ms. Folksy is losing a lot of weight?
Mom: Yes, sweetie, I've noticed.
Kid: She looks really good.
Mom: You could tell her that, I bet it would make her feel good.
Kid: No, she says it's rude to talk about what people weigh.

I suppose I've done a good job.  I think I'm changing my name to Folksy Know It All.

Edit: I wrote the above post on Wednesday night.  On Thursday I had a concert, so I dressed a little nicer than usual.  I was in the fifth grade hall when a (different) fifth grade boy called out.

"Ms. Folksy!" he called.
"Yes, what is it?" I asked.
"You're looking good," he said, head nodding and eyebrows raised.
"Thank you," I said, wondering why it had bothered me before when fifth-grade boys didn't compliment my appearance.  And since when do 5th graders wear velvet smoking jackets to school?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Picture: Sven Makes Deb Dinner

Here is my dinner last night.  Sven carefully made sure I had the exact amount of food I could eat.  For the record, I did eat every bite:

I was stuffed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

In Which Deb is High on Painkillers And Waxes Literary

I'll say it.  I don't like the Harry Potter movies.

I love the books, but really don't care for the film versions.  The last time I tried to watch Part V (Order of the Angst), Momz and I eventually just shut it off and referred to it as an "ordeal."  I don't want to watch a movie that makes me fight to stay awake through every moment unless it stars Charlton Heston and something is made out of people.

Here's my take: the people who have made the Harry Potter movies are afraid of backlash from the audience, who will criticize any detail that is not exactly like the book.  I used to be one of those people myself before I understood a basic truth: film and written fiction are two completely different art forms, therefore different techniques will be used to tell the same story in each.

(True story:  When whats-his-name was making the film version of Rosemary's Baby, he called the author (Ira Levin?) and asked him about a reference that was made in the book to a shirt Rosemary said she bought for her husband that was "in The New Yorker."  The director wanted to know what issue, what brand shirt it was, etc.  Levin said, "I don't know, I made it up.")

Take the Twilight series.  (You knew I was going there, don't judge me.)  The first movie was not great, as it tried very hard to include every hokey line of dialogue that might work in print but would never sound right to the ear if spoken aloud.  The second movie was a big improvement.  The third movie was actually pretty good as they focused more on telling a story and less on making every fanatic in the world happy about including their favorite line.  (I'll also say it: I think the film version of Eclipse had a lot of improvements over the book in terms of narrative flow and plot, but that is part of the limitation of writing a book with a first-person narrator, particularly one as self-centered and self-analytical as Bella.  I told you I was high at the beginning of this.)

For me, the best book-to-film adaptations are the ones that preserve the essential feel of the story while not being afraid to make changes that make the story work better for film.  Here, then, are some of my favorite book-to-film adaptations:

  • Gone With the Wind: because Scarlett really only needed one child, right?
  • Interview with the Vampire: Did you know Tom Cruise didn't even know he was in that movie until a year later?
  • Carrie: I love a movie in which teenagers don't take themselves too seriously, except the one who slaughters the entire town with the force of her mind.
  • The Princess Bride: If you've never read this book, you should.  It was written by the guy who also wrote the movie, but there's some great satire there that doesn't translate to film at all and, bless him, he didn't try.
  • Rebecca/Jane Eyre: Aren't these really the same movie?  All I can say is, Joan Fontaine's nostrils are magnificent.
So, I hope that is a lesson to all of you aspiring screenwriters/directors out there.  If you're adapting existing material, don't be afraid to change it up a bit, make it your own.

And stay off the painkillers.  Makes it difficult to write a coherent weasel got in the corn.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Which Deb Reassesses a Major Belief

I have always tried to be a polite person.  Not just by following the rules of etiquette; there are times when, in fact, it is actually less polite to stick to the rules.  (Don't question me, it just is.)  For me, being polite means that I know how to stand up for myself without being obnoxious, that I try to have empathy for other people and not take my frustrations with a systemic problem out on an individual, and that I choose my battles carefully; if it isn't my "hill to die on," so to speak, I let things go.

Today I experienced something that, for the first time, made me wish that I was a rude person.  Today I experienced a kidney stone.  (In fact, I am still experiencing it, as my pain medication is wearing off as I write this post, so I'd better hurry before I reach out through the internets and tear all of your faces off.)

When I woke up this morning, I had my usual vague lower back pain that always goes away after I move around a bit.  This morning, the pain didn't go away, it localized to the bottom left quadrant of my back and settled in.

"That's odd," I said.  "This back pain is kind of weird this morning."

"You're spending too much time on the computer," Sven grumbled.  "It's bad for your back."  (For the record, this is also why I have to wear glasses, have painful menstrual periods, suffer from itchy toes in the winter, and have experienced bouts of puff-knuckle, at least according to Sven.)

"Maybe you're right," I said automatically, and got dressed for work.  That nagging pain would not go away!  By the time I got to work, I knew things weren't right.  I was dizzy and sweaty and felt like I was about to vomit.  I called Sven ("No, I'll be fine, you stay at work,") left work and went to the emergency room, where being polite gets you nowhere.

"Excuse me," I said, gasping in pain, "I'm in a great deal of pain and need to see someone."

"Fill out the top form and have a seat," the nurse said mechanically.  It was at this point that my logical, polite mind said Don't get mad at her, she's following procedure, and yelling at people never solved anything.  There was another, louder part of my mind, however, that was screaming Tell that stupid so-and-so that you're not filling out a damn thing until you get some Demerol!  Fortunately, I listened to my polite self and filled out the form and hunched my way over to the chairs.  It took seventeen hours in my time (but only about fifteen minutes in real time, I suppose) to get back to a room.

"Do you mind if I ask you some questions?" a perky intern asked.  Again, polite Deb is thinking Bless her heart, she's just taking my history, no need to get upset, while the raving lunatic unleashed by unspeakable pain is screaming Tell her to shove that clipboard somewhere dark and get me some morphine! NOW!  I again managed to leash the beast and answered her questions as best I could, though I will tell you now I have no recollection of what she asked me.  I was in so much pain at that point that my hearing was affected.  I wanted to call Sven and tell him to come and hold my hand, but I was in too much pain to even ask for my phone.  Then the lady from the business office came in to ask me about how I was going to pay.  I don't even remember what happened next.

Fortunately, drawing on nearly seventeen years' worth of couples' telepathy, Sven walked in at that point and I could just start crying while he answered the questions.

Pain medication was introduced then, and I felt much better.  Just about normal, in fact.  One CAT scan later, it was confirmed that a tiny, 3mm ball of yuck had lodged in my left kidney and I have to evict him.  Hopefully said eviction will be accomplished today by means of my enormous Bass Pro Shop mug and amazing willpower, but I could be here for a while.  Sven is out now getting my prescriptions filled.

And he'd better get back soon, because Angry Deb is lurking.  Watch out.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Deb's Favorite Things

Hey, y'all.  I bet you're wondering why the topic of today's show was kept such a big secret.  Is it a big star?  Maybe George Clooney or Brad Pitt?

(Excited murmurings from audience)

No, it's not a big star.  It's even better.  Everyone welcome to DEB'S FAVORITE THINGS!!

(Audience screams.  Close up on one woman sobbing.)

Okay, y'all.  Let's begin with one of my absolute favorite things in.  The.  World.  This has saved me more than anything when I'm trying to cool down from those long workouts.  Everyone in the audience is getting a case of Isopure Protein Clear Beverage!!

(Audience screams.  One woman tears off another's head.)

All right, let's all settle down.  Next on my favorite things list is something I found at a local drugstore, and who would expect to find something so gourmet and satisfying there?  BLUE DIAMOND DRY ROASTED ALMONDS!

(Audience screams.  Paramedics enter the room and begin carrying out unconscious audience members.)

Okay, everybody.  I know the holiday season is here and we're all looking for that perfect gift.  Well, look no further.  I got one of these for Sven last year and he.  Loved.  It.  Who would not love this AUTHENTIC TAUN-TAUN SLEEPING BAG?

(Audience screams.  A wedding between audience members spontaneously takes place in the back three rows.)

And for today's final gift, for that person who has everything: I love comedy, and I love podcasts, so everyone today in the audience will receive a genuine COMEDY DEATH RAY RADIO T-SHIRT!!

(Audience screams.  In the front row, a woman spontaneously conceives, carries, and gives birth to a child out of sheer joy.)

Thanks, y'all.  I hope you all know that I received no promotional money or goods for today's show, though I wouldn't turn them down if they were offered.  Enjoy the spirit of the season, everybody.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tooting My Own Horn

You all know, who have read me for a while, that I love having imaginary interviews.  In my mind, I have sat on the couch of Oprah, matched wits with Jon Stewart, and answered James Lipton's list of questions.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to have a real interview.  With a real journalist.  It really happened.  And it was everything I hoped it would be!

No, I wasn't on television, it was a phone interview, but it has been published.  Read it here:

Galveston Daily News

And if you are here from that article, welcome!  There will be a quiz over all past entries next week.  Begin.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It is, of course, November, which means one thing: the thirty day orgy of creativity known as NaNoWriMo.  Of course, I know all of my faithful readers have the entire month marked in red on their calendars, but to those who might be new, I will explain.

The goal of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month) is to produce a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.  Beginning at midnight on November 1 and ending on November 30, those who choose to participate in this activity forswear friends, family, and proper nutrition for the duration.  In order to complete your book on time, a daily goal of 1,667 words is the minimum to be completed.  Editing is discouraged; NaNoWriMo is not about quality, it is about quantity.  (December, however, is NaNoFiMo, or National Novel Finishing Month, in which one's NaNoWriMo work can, hopefully, be edited into something semi-coherent.)

Last year I began participating in NaNoWriMo early in November, as soon as I heard about it.  I had no plot, no ideas, and had to start over more than once.  I got my 50,000 words, though, meaning I "won" the contest.  Unfortunately, that book was terrible.  Seriously, completely terrible.  Easily the worst thing I have ever written, and I include the companion book to "The Outsiders" I wrote in eighth grade in that statement.  We will never speak of it again.

This year I started thinking about NaNoWriMo in August.  I knew what I wanted to write: an account of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, told from the perspective of a young woman who lived through it.  The twist?  Those who have been reading my blog for a while have probably guessed: she lives through it by becoming a vampire.  Yes, another vampire tome has fallen from my pen like drifting autumn leaves, and I couldn't be happier.  I began researching with enthusiasm.  (Just a note: I never research anything beyond a quick Google search, so this is very uncharacteristic behavior for me.)  I drove to Galveston several times and looked at buildings that had survived the storm.  I went to the Rosenberg Library and visited the archives, where original documents from that time period are stored.  I read books, including the superb "Isaac's Storm" by Erik Larson.  I knew who my heroine was and what she was doing, I knew how she was going to get caught in the storm and where she was going to shelter.  I even knew who the vampire who attacked her was and his back story.  (He's a Karankawa Indian, by the way, another bit of obscure coastal Texas lore I was happy to include.)

The problem?  When November 1 hit, I wrote almost 10,000 words in the first 24 hours.  By the end of the first week I was at 25,000.  I hit 50,000 words on November 15.  I finished the book, at 56,000 words, on November 15.  Now what?

Start a second one.

Here's my reasoning: if I finished a 50,000 word book in the first 15 days, I could do another one in the second 15 days, right?  I neglected to think about the two months of research and thought that had gone into the first one (for the record, "Immortal Isle").  What was I thinking?

This new one, tentatively titled "Magic Number," is awful.  Truly, tremendously awful.  It may, in fact, be worse in many respects than last year's.  If I had any artistic integrity, I would junk it and start over and really challenge myself (as I write this, it's November 21, so 9 days to go) but no matter how bad this one is, I'm 37,000 words into it and have an actual shot at finishing the thing.

I love young adult literature.  "Magic Number" was intended as an homage to one of my favorite YA authors, Norma Johnston, the queen (in my opinion) of teenage angst.  Unfortunately, I seem to be incapable of writing a simple, biographical novel.  Halfway through this one, we discover that one corner of our love triangle is the child of secret agents who is being recruited to join the agency herself, and adventure ensues.

Really?  Really, Deb?  A teenage love story drama turns into a suspense thing about secret agents?  Nice.  I just hope I can finish the thing in time to go back and fix some things.  Like take out the whole "secret agent" thing.  I wish I could do it now, but I can't go back and erase 100 pages with only nine days to go.

Or can I?  More later...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blast from the Past

Recently, I was privileged to attend my 4th grade class reunion.

What?  4th grade class reunions aren't that common?  Well, my 4th grade class was never common to begin  with.

Here's a picture of me with my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Awesome-O.

(Note that I was the only member of Awesome-O Class of '85 to attend.  I'm looking in your direction, everyone else.)

In elementary school, I participated in something called GATE: Gifted And Talented Education.  Those of us in GATE fell under many categories:

  • Brilliant but quiet
  • Brilliant but loud
  • Too hyperactive to be in a regular classroom
  • Too weird to be in a regular classroom
  • Smart but socially clueless
  • Several of the above
GATE students were identified by a complicated series of tests, including IQ tests.  We were together all day, every day, from third through fifth grade.  Thinking about it now, I realize how extraordinary that was.  Most kids get shuffled from class to class between grades, and switch between different teachers during the day.  We didn't.  Our teacher was OUR TEACHER, who taught us reading, language, math, social studies, and science every day.

At the reunion, I realized I remembered the people who were there better than I remembered people in my graduating class at high school.  It was amazing!  What was even more amazing was how, in a room full of our peers, we all immediately reverted to our Inner Nerd.  The quiet ones were still quiet, the loud ones unbelievably loud, but you could almost see guards dropping as we realized we were among our peers.  The class clowns began entertaining, the sarcastic ones were dripping with well-placed stings, and the nice ones were just exuding good nature.

There were a wide variety of careers represented.  Several of us are in education.  There was a neurosurgeon and stay-at-home moms, small business owners and IT experts.  Above all, we were still GATE kids: smart, kind of goofy, and not traditional at all.

At the reunion, I was given the honor of witnessing what has to be one of the greatest "You're busted!" moments of all time.  Allow me to set the scene:  Sven and I were sitting there with Siegfried, a friend of ours who happens to be Awesome-O class of '84.  We were discussing how we ended up with different 5th grade teachers, because Siegfried's teacher left in the summer between his fifth grade year and mine.

Not to drag the story out, but I told Siegfried about my 5th grade teacher, who had never taught elementary school or GATE before, and how inappropriate her reading assignments were.  We read Johnny Tremain and Island of the Blue Dolphins, which were great, and then The Hobbit, which was okay but a little dense for 10-year-olds, then Animal Farm, which I did not understand at all.  I thought it was about talking animals until I was 18.

"What came next?" asked Siegfried.
"Lord of the Flies," I said.  After the laughter subsided, I recalled how my mother, along with several others, protested, which resulted in an "opt-out" assignment: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.  Siegfried and I then imagined how we would teach a class in which half of the kids were discussing the pig-hunting scene from LOTF while the rest were debating whether or not Farmer Fitzsimmon's rose bush was really the best place for those darned rats.

"Why stop there?" Siegfried asked, and we began suggesting increasingly inappropriate reading material for 10-year-olds.
"How about The World According to Garp?" I suggested.  Siegfried got that wicked twinkle in his eye and began to intone, in a teacherly voice:

"Class, please regard the [expletive descriptive word] scene and-"

"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?" intoned Mrs. Awesome-O, descending upon us.

Busted.  We had to explain it all to her, which fortunately, she found hilarious, though whether it was because we were funny or she was on her second glass of wine, I can't say.  What I can say is that Mrs. Awesome-O is still awesome.  As we were leaving, she gave me a hug and said to Sven, "Take care of her, she's one of my good ones."

Right back at you, Mrs. Awesome-O.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Battle for the Bed

At the Folksy house, we are currently at war.  At stake in this war is the most valuable piece of real estate around: Deb and Sven's king-sized bed.

It began almost five years ago, when Princess was born.  From the very beginning, she would not be alone quietly.  When I think of the money we spent before she arrived on things like cribs and bassinets, I can't help but laugh bitterly.  The crib wasn't a total loss; it converted to the full-size bed she now refuses to sleep in, but the $200 convertible bassinet was a total waste of money unless you consider having an extra place for our late cat (Hambone) to pee is a wise investment.

Princess slept with us for the first year on purpose.  We called it co-sleeping.  Everyone else kept silent, but I knew what they were thinking: how will you ever stop?  Answer: I don't know.  I'll tell you when it happens.  When we decided to have her sleep with us, it was from necessity: I hadn't planned on having a C-section, Sven's brother died the day after we brought her home from the hospital, so we had to find a way I could feed her without getting out of bed every 2-3 hours.  We did what we had to do.

When we found out we were pregnant with Dexy, I said, "We need to get his room all ready."  Sven replied, "I just thought he'd sleep with us the way Princess did."  Bear in mind that, at this point, Princess was almost two years old and it was a nightly struggle to get her to sleep in her room.  I goggled at Sven, but, muddled by the hormones of pregnancy, I shrugged and just went along with it and ate another wedge of cheese the size of a mature hamster.  (That was a strange pregnancy.)

So now, here we are: Dexy, nearly three, who cannot go to sleep without a thumb in his mouth and a hank of my hair in his hand, and Princess, nearly five, who lays down in her bed for thirty seconds before proclaiming, "I had a bad dream, I can't sleep by myself tonight."  My nights are spent curled up in the fetal position on the edge of my once-luxurious bed, waking up every half hour to dislodge a child-sized foot from some part of my person.

We are trying.  This week I've been up every night until 2:00 or 3:00 with Princess, insisting that she sleep in her own bed.  I'm on to her tricks: she will wait until I'm asleep, then creep in and sneak into my room and fall asleep next to her daddy.  (Usually because Dexy is already asleep next to me.)  Some nights, Dexy actually stays in his bed when we carry him down, but Princess is like The Terminator.  She doesn't sleep.  She can go days on two hours of sleep a night with almost no signs of ill effects.

She's ruthless, I tell you.  But she hadn't reckoned on dealing with me.  I'll beat her yet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Wrath of Mom

On Monday, I got home and I was so tired, I just couldn't wait to sit down, put my feet up, open up the computer, and write for a while.  When I got home, I was confronted by a grave reality: the dishes had piled up in the sink, there were loads of clothes waiting to be washed, dried, and folded, and the garbage can was full to the point that Sven and I were actively competing to see who would be the sucker that had to actually change the bag, meaning we were precariously balancing mountains of garbage on top of the already full can.

I looked around my house and got mad.  No, not mad.  I was furious.  I put my things down and began to attack the garbage, then the dishes.  I rattled and banged and generally let everyone know that I. Was. Not. Happy.

"I love you, Mommy," Princess said, patting me.

"I love you, too," I snarled.

"I can take care of supper," Sven offered from the recliner.

"Great," I snapped.  "You do that."

"I want chicken nuggets, Daddy," said Dexy.

"Chick-Fil-A!  Chick-Fil-A!" chanted Princess.

"Okay, I'll be right back," said Sven.  When I turned around, they were all gone.  I ran out and caught them, hearing that Sven was taking the children with him.  I knew then that I would not be seeing them for a long time.  "I'm just going through the drive-thru," Sven said.  I cackled bitterly, wiping dish soap from my eyebrows.

Two hours later, when they returned home, I got the scoop.  Here's what happened:

Sven: Now, kids, we're just going through the drive-thru and going home.

Princess: Well, Daddy, since Mommy's not eating, we don't really need to bring the food home.

Sven: I suppose we can see how crowded it is, and if it isn't too crowded we might be able to eat there.

Princess: I think Mommy wants to be alone.  We should eat there to help Mommy.

Sven: We'll see.

Princess: And then we can play on the playground for just a minute.

Sven: All right, we'll see.

Princess: Thank you, Daddy.

They came home after the dishwasher had been run and I had all of the laundry folded, and I was much, much calmer.  Sven had that wry expression that told me he knew he had been suckered by a tiny little girl with dimples and pigtails.

Maybe I need to "Hulk out" on the housework more often...

Saturday, November 6, 2010


It has been 11 weeks and 3 days since my surgery, or 80 days.

I have lost 51 pounds since that date.  That is an average of 0.6375 pounds per day.  I know this is good, but I'm still struggling with patience.  I want to see it come off much faster.

To put that in more perspective, the last time I was at this weight was around the time I got married, in 1999.  I've lost 11 years worth of weight in 80 days.

I have lost a shoe size.

I have lost two and a half ring sizes.  Many of my favorite pieces do not fit me at all anymore.

I have lost four pants sizes (depending on how you count those things) and four or five shirt sizes.

Highlight to read for female information: I have lost a cup size and two band sizes in my bust.

In personal developments, I can no longer wrestle with Sven, because I no longer outweigh him.  I learned this painfully (emotionally painfully) the other day when I refused to get off of the couch for something and he pulled me up.  Easily.  Then sicced the kids on me.

My hands no longer sweat.  Not as much, anyway.

I still don't eat much.  I drink a mixture of whey protein and water during the day and generally try for something solid at night.  Right now I'm hooked on egg whites.  A couple of minutes in a pan with some trans-fat-free-butter-like-spread, sprinkle on some cheese (I use real cheese, in your face, fake cheese!) and I can eat as much as six or seven bites.  During the day, I munch on the occasional almond and chewable fiber tablets (the size of baby hockey pucks).

The holidays are coming up, and people are starting to ask (in tones of horror), "What are you going to DO?"  Not only Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Princess and Dexy's birthdays are all happening within the same 1-month period.  My answer: enjoy it.  It will be hard without the food, but it's not like I'm on a diet.  I couldn't splurge if I wanted to, and I'm not sure I want to.  I'm never hungry.  Most food has started to look unappealing to me.  When I see a restaurant meal now, I'm actually horrified at the size of the portions.  I can remember the days (really, only a couple of months ago!) when I would have looked at the same meal and thought, "I hope that will fill me up!"  In other words, my entire attitude toward food and eating are different.  It hasn't been easy, but going through all of this has made the weight loss possible for me in a way it would never have been before.

I don't want to make this into a weight-loss blog, but it's hard to write about what's happening in my life without this weight loss.  It's become a big deal every day.  Getting dressed is even harder now than it used to be, because my pants now literally fall off my body.  (Today's project: moving the buttons on a few pairs so the waist will be smaller.)

So it doesn't look like I'll be meeting my goal of 80 pounds lost by my 3-month checkup (in 4 weeks; 29 pounds in 4 weeks is at least a pound a day) but I should be close.  After I lose those 29 pounds, I have at least another 50 to lose.

I'll see you when I get there.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Recipe: Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Since my little procedure about two months ago, I have had to drastically change the way I eat.  As in, I can't anymore.  Eat, I mean.  Really, I eat almost nothing.  Unfortunately, for several weeks the only things that seem to want to stay in my stomach without making me sick are really bad foods: pizza, lasagna, quesadillas, macaroni and get the idea.  I would rather not eat anything than eat those foods, so there have been a lot of 200-calorie days lately.

So I splurged and bought a couple of cookbooks, and I tried a recipe tonight that went over very well with me and my family.  I am sharing the recipe here because I changed it enough to make it my own.

A serving (about 5 nuggets) equals around 150 calories, 25 grams of protein (about), low carbs, some fiber.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins
Egg whites
Reduced fat Pringles potato chips
Fiber One cereal (original)
Seasoning to taste (I used Lawry's Seasoning Salt, but any seasoning you like would work.)

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Cut chicken into desired size pieces.  Coat with egg whites.

In a blender or food processor, combine Fiber One cereal (about 1/2 cup for 1 pound chicken), seasoning, and potato chips (16-24 chips).  Pulse until you achieve a bread crumb like texture.  Place this mixture in a gallon-size plastic bag.

Place chicken in the bag and shake to coat.  You can do this in batches or all at once.

Put coated chicken on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Turn over and bake another 10 minutes, or until crispy and cooked through.  Excellent with ketchup.

I used about 1 pound of chicken and it was enough to feed me, Sven, Princess, and Dexy with leftovers.

I ate two.  Yay!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Grandparents

My mother's parents were really special.

I was thinking today about what I was going to do this year for Thanksgiving, and it has reminded me of a couple of stories I remember about my grandparents.

My grandpa had a bad heart.  It runs in the family, unfortunately.  Of course, his doctors put him on a salt-free diet and, since it was the 1980's, salt substitutes were horrible, bitter things.  Well, my grandmother found a great one that tasted just like salt.  It was amazing!

After Grandpa died, Grandma went on using the salt substitute.  Eventually she had to go and replace it.  Imagine her shock when the salt substitute tasted terrible!  It was bitter and awful and she was just so confused!

Until she found the big container of REAL salt hidden in the kitchen.  Grandpa had been quietly replacing the salt substitute with real salt for years.  Grandma had to laugh.

My second story is about Grandma.  Grandma lived until 2005, passing away just a few weeks before Princess was born.  She remained vital and healthy for years after Grandpa died, but of course, as time went on she could do less and less.

We always went to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.  Grandma made the same dishes every year, and assigned each of us to bring the same things, so it was a menu you could really count on.  One dish Grandma made sure never to forget was the corn-and-oysters.

Made with canned oysters and creamed corn, this dish truly had to be seen (and smelled) to be believed.  Yet, year after year, the dish was completely clean at the end of the feast, thanks to the combined efforts of my father and my Uncle Pat.  Grandma never really knew that Dad and Pat were the only two eating it.  She thought we all loved it, that it was the dish without which our family Thanksgiving could not be complete.

I remember the year she told me that she just didn't feel up to making the corn and oysters.  "Deb, I know the family will be so disappointed," she said earnestly.  "I just don't think I can make the corn and oysters this year."  "Grandma," I said sincerely, "we'll manage."  Only my father complained.

It's been 5 years since Grandma died, and 23 years since Grandpa died.  Even though I miss them every day, thinking about them makes me happy.  Hopefully one day Princess will have children (she currently plans on having eight) who will tell stories about their kooky Grandma Deb, who wore knee-socks and danced the Futterwagon on the living-room sofa.

Obviously, I plan for an active, lightly medicated old age.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Compatibility: Fighting

Men and women fight differently.  Sven and I, of course, as the perfect married couple, never fight.  We do, however, disagree, argue, snipe, snark, discuss, mull, and wrestle.

After a morning spent in the following sort of dialogue:

Sven: Where are Princess' shoes?
Deb: Ask Princess.
Princess: They're in the toilet. (Giggles)
Sven: Would you just find her shoes?
Deb: Is your leg broken?
Sven: Is yours?
Deb: Is yours?
Sven: Is yours?
Dexy: I hungry.

I leave for work feeling guilty about my negativity toward my loving, hard-working man.  I go to work in a blue mood.  Around lunchtime, I send him a text message saying something like "I love you, I'm sorry I was so nasty to you this morning."  I get no response.

In typical female fashion, now I begin to worry.  Maybe he's really mad.  Maybe he is just tired of all of this.  Maybe he's thinking about how I never cook anymore, or how I've been dressing my children out of clean laundry baskets instead of putting their clothes away.  I begin to fret.

After two hours of fretting, I send the text message again.  He calls me back.  We have the following conversation:

Sven: So what are you sorry for?
Deb: For being so nasty and snipy this morning.
Sven: Oh.  Well, I was pretty snipy myself.
Deb: You were, but I felt bad about it.
Sven: I had forgotten all about it, actually.
Deb: Oh.
Sven: But I accept your apology.
Deb: Thank you.

This is the difference: when men get mad and blow of steam, they feel better.  When women do it, they feel worse.  I came to this conclusion by having an extremely scientific conversation with my partner teacher, Georgia, and my student teacher Eurydice.  Of course there are the exceptions: the enlightened men who never ignore their wives even when they say something eight times and then ask, "Did you say something about needing me to pick up the kids today?" even when you've been reminding them every day for eight days but hey, they didn't actually NEED the information until today so it doesn't count.  Needless to say, those enlightened men will not look at their wives at that point and say, "Why didn't you TELL me?"  But I really believe those men are the exception.

Feel free to disagree with me.  I will text you later to apologize.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


If there's one thing I pride myself on, it is my morning routine.  I am a paragon of efficiency.  I treasure my mornings, for, as you will see, it is during my mornings that I am most myself.

The following takes place between 2:00 A.M. and 8:00 A.M.:

2:00 A.M.: One of the children staggers in, wakes me up, announces "I had a bad dream," and gets into bed with me.

2:45 A.M.: The other one repeats that process.

3:15 A.M.: I accept that I will not be getting back to sleep and get out the computer to write for a few minutes.

4:00 A.M.: I finish with my Facebook, discussion boards, e-mail checks, and general internet playing and get down to the business of writing.

4:20 A.M.: My alarm goes off and is turned off.

4:50 A.M.: I get up and go downstairs to walk on the treadmill.

5:30 A.M.: I stagger upstairs and take a shower.  The children may or may not be awake at this point.  If they are, my shower is cut to 3 minutes and I emerge from the bathroom screaming "Put that down!" and "Don't stick that in your father, he's sleeping!"

5:33-5:50 A.M: Get out of the shower (see note above).  Get out computer just to check on that last sentence.

6:15 A.M.: Get off of Facebook and just check that last sentence.

6:30 A.M.: Say defensively to Sven, "I AM getting ready!"

6:45 A.M.: Finish makeup, move to bathroom to dry hair.

6:50 A.M.: Discover that I have literally no clothes that fit me anymore, cry.

6:55 A.M.: Realize that the dress I saved for years because I couldn't bear to give it away even though it was too small fits, rejoice.

6:58 A.M.: Go downstairs, put shoes on various feet and ponytails on various heads.

7:01 A.M.: Announce I am leaving.

7:05 A.M.: Return to get glasses.  Announce I am leaving.

7:07 A.M.: Kiss a crying Dexy, who is on the driveway lamenting, "I just wanted to say I love you, Mommy!"

7:10 A.M.: Realize I forgot my vitamins, go back in.

7:15 A.M.: Help Sven put the kids in his car, kiss faces.

7:21 A.M.: Swear.

7:25 A.M.: Leave for work, secure in the knowledge that I have nearly five minutes to get there and be on time.

7:38 A.M.: Arrive at work.  Gaze at the pile of work I left for myself the night before.

7:42 A.M.: Swear.

8:00 A.M.: Greet my first class of the day with a smile and a song.  That other stuff can wait.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Popping and Locking

I had my first appointment with a chiropractor today.  This was a "free consultation," so the last thing I expected was to actually get what they call an "adjustment."  I was wrong.  I left the massage parlor (where his office was, don't judge me) fifteen minutes after meeting him with a spring in my step and a pip in my pep.

This was my first adjustment.  Needless to say, when the very attractive chiropractor was massaging my glutes (a.k.a. "fanny") to find out "where I carried the most tension," I felt a bit strange.  Not awkward, but so comfortable I just knew something was wrong.  After all, I'm a happily married woman!  I shouldn't be comfortable with a tall, well-built, blue-eyed blonde man (estimated height: 6'2") rubbing my derriere, but there I was, happy as the proverbial clam.  Alas, the butt analysis was negative ("Feels real good," he said. "Thank you," I replied) so the focus shifted to my spine and neck.

We moved on to the neck adjustment.  One excruciating crunch later, I felt lighter and more alert.  We moved on to the mid-back.  This adjustment was accomplished by me folding my arms over my chest while he basically threw his body down on top of mine.  Before any of you begin transposing the surf scene from "From Here to Eternity" onto a chiropractor's table, let me assure you that this adjustment was accompanied by me making the least sexy sound known to man.  This combination of grunt and groan had all of the aesthetic appeal of a diarrheic bagpipe player who forgot to remove his instrument before a strategic retreat to the loo.

The lower back, which I expected to be the motherlode of adjustment, so to speak, was surprisingly anticlimactic.  Bend this leg, straighten that one, turn your head, cough... you know how it goes.  Once I was done, Dr. Nick (really) told me, "I really hope I see you again."  I went straight home to my wonderful husband, Sven, whose idea this was in the first place.  I hope he's pleased with how well it went.

I know I am.  Next time, I'm taking a camera.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The kindness of Relative Strangers

I heard on NPR a version of the following story:

Since it's been 20 years since the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas scandal, apparently Mrs. Thomas decided to make amends.  (Maybe it's been 20 years.  Maybe not.  I'm not a journalist.)

So, Mrs. Thomas, in an extraordinarily selfless act, decided to reach out to Ms. Hill.  She phoned her (at work) and left her a very touching voice mail, which she describes as "extending an olive branch."

In this phone call, Mrs. Thomas invited Ms. Hill to finally apologize to her and her husband.  Nothing says selfless like, "Hey, it's okay.  Apologize to me.  You've earned it."

I don't know whether or not Ms. Hill's allegations were true, and I don't care.  It's actually irrelevant to this story.  The beautiful thing here is someone actually thinking calling someone who has accused your husband of sexual harassment and not only bringing it up, but asking that person to apologize to you, is "peacemaking."

This gives me so many ideas, I don't know what to do with myself.  I can't wait to start reaching out to all of the people who I think owe me apologies.  The list begins with, but is not limited to:

  • Victoria Beckham
  • Jane Austen (Death is no excuse for being obstinate.)
  • Natalie Portman
  • The Old Spice Guy
  • Stephenie Meyer
  • George W. Bush
  • George Bush Sr.
  • George Bush (mows the lawn next door, no relation)
  • Mittens (cat; can still miaow plaintively.)
  • Jon Hamm
  • The writers for SNL '09-'10 season
  • Glee
  • Heidi Klum
  • Steve Martin
  • Stephen King
  • Stephen Weber
  • Weber Grills
  • Lil' Wayne
  • The Ghost
  • Mrs. Muir
  • Anyone named "Penelope."
I will expect my apologies forthwith.  You're welcome.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

These are the jokes, folks.

Place: In Sven's new (non-wrecked) car

Time: Any, as long as we plan to be in the car at least 15 minutes.

   Sven: The designated driver and egger-on
   Deb: The long-suffering navigator and general party pooper
   Princess: The comedian
   Dexy: The sidekick

Princess: Knock, knock.

Sven: Who's there?

Princess: Interrupting cow.

Sven: Interrupting c-

Princess: MOO!

{General laughter}

Dexy: Knock, knock.

Sven: Who's there?

Dexy: Interrupting cheese.

Sven: Interrupting cheese who?

Dexy: {long pause}  Cheese!

{General laughter}

Princess: Why did the chicken cross the park?

Sven: Why?

Princess: To get to the other SLIDE!

{General laughter}

Dexy: Knock, knock!

Sven: Who's there?

Dexy: Interrupting poo poo!

{general laughter, except Deb}

Deb: Now, Dexy, you don't have to work blue.  You're better than that.

Dexy: Poo poo!

Princess: Pee pee!

Sven: Kids-

Dexy: Interrupting poo poo!

Princess: Dexy won't let me tell my joke!

Sven: Tell your joke, Princess.

Princess: Why did the...knock, knock.

Dexy: Knock, knock!

Princess: Dexy!

Dexy: Poo poo!

Deb: I need a Valium.


(I edited the above to make it much shorter and less maddening than real life.  You're welcome.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Short Takes: Folksy Household

Deb: Sven, get in the bathroom and weigh yourself!

Sven: Why?

Deb: Because it says I haven't lost any weight at all in four days.  Just do it, okay?

Sven: Sure.  {Goes into the bathroom.  Returns.}  I lost seven pounds.

Deb: We're getting a divorce.


Princess: Mommy, you know panties?

Deb: Panties?  I believe I am familiar with panties.

Princess: You know the part of the panties where you put your legs through?

Deb: Yes, the leg holes.

Princess: The leg holes are the panties' nostrils.

Deb: That makes perfect sense to me.


Dexy: Want cheese, Mommy!

Deb: Okay.  {Hands him a cheese.}

Dexy: No, I don't want cheese.  I want a banana.

Deb: Okay.  {Takes back cheese, gets out a banana}

Dexy: No, I don't want a banana.  I want a Pop Tart.

Deb: No, no Pop Tarts.


Deb: How about a cheese?

Dexy: Okay.


Have a great week, everyone.

Monday, October 4, 2010

To Black Work Pants, Pair No. 2

Dear Pants,

I hate to write this sort of thing in a letter, but sometimes emotional things are better said from a distance.  I know you're wondering why, when I got home after work today, I put my shirt in one laundry basket and you in another.  Pants, I know it's hard to accept, but we can no longer be together.

The final straw for me was today's Kindergarten classes.  As I performed The Chicken Dance, I could feel you slipping away.  When I had to stop Head Shoulders Knees and Toes to hike you up to my braline, I knew it was over.  Seriously, seriously over.

I'm embarking on a new era in my life, one in which you no longer belong.  I will always appreciate the good times: your color that never faded, your sturdy fabric that still looks new, and your forgiving stretch that made you the sole pair of pants in my closet that always fit no matter what.  Times have changed, unfortunately, and we all must accept this.

I choose not to think about your ridiculous front pockets which spilled their contents whenever I sat down. I hope you'll remember the good times as well.

So, Pants, as we part ways, I hope you will be on to better things than I.  Perhaps someone who will love and cherish you, and not turn you into a handbag, as I am tempted to do.  I do hope you will keep in touch.  You are irreplaceable, at least until I lose two more sizes.

Best Wishes,


Monday, September 27, 2010

Living the Rock 'N Roll Lifestyle

In a recent post (the last one, scroll down if you like), I mentioned that, once I am thin enough for it not to be ridiculous, I am going to start a Joan Jett and the Blackhearts cover band.

The resemblance is truly terrifying.  Once I begin to adopt the persona of Joan, I will be living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle I've always dreamed of.

1. The aforementioned black leather.  Leather cuffs, leather necklaces, leather pants, leather shirts, leather hair accessories, leather shoes...  Well, to be fair, I already wear leather shoes.  The point is, I'm going to look amazing.

2. The reckless lifestyle.  As anyone who has seen The Runaways knows, Joan Jett was a crazy, up-for-anything kind of girl who played a boys' game by her own rules and took no prisoners and lived life by her own rules and I'm tired.  I plan to adopt her policy by recklessly popping breath mints after I finish my protein shakes.  Rock on!  And you're welcome.

3. Joan Jett wrote songs that defied authority and convention, like "Bad Reputation" and "Cherry Bomb."  Though I intend to primarily focus on covering Joan's catalogue, I might try my hand at writing my own anti-establishment anthems, like "I Paid the Electric Bill Two Days Late" and "Going 42 in a 40 Zone."  I will truly be one bad, bad rock 'n roll mother.

4. Superstar meltdowns.  Trust me, I cannot wait to have one of those.  Flinging bottles and baseless accusations at those who love me most?  Awesome.

5. An unrepentant, dazzling middle age.   Joan Jett is just as awesome today, at 50+, as she was at 20.  Maybe even more so.  I plan to age defiantly, with jet-black hair and amazing cheekbones.  Maybe I'll get something pierced.

Just kidding, Mom.


A note about last entry: when I fly to Utah, I expect to see all of my bloggy friends who live within 150 miles.  We will get tipsy on Diet Coke and ogle waiters, if that's all right with all of you.  Clothing optional.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When I am Thin

So we're 36 pounds down now (and by "we" I mean "I") and I'm starting to think about what I'm going to do with I am finally thin.

1. I'm going to fly to Utah to meet Kristina, my BIFFALAWGAIRL. (Best Internet Friend Forever As Long As We Get Along In Real Life.)  I'm longing to be judged in person.

2. I'm going to buy something from Dash, the exclusive clothing store owned by Kourtney and Klohe and Kimberly and Kris and KooKoo Kardashian.  I'll be able to look like a desperate wannabe celebrity in the comfort of my own home!

3. I'm going to start a Joan Jett and the Blackhearts tribute band, Dark Deb and the Destroyers.  I will play rhythm guitar and angst.  Hopefully my workplace will support my decision to wear black leather at all times.

4. I'm going to take a picture of myself standing in one leg of my old pants.  It just seems like the right thing to do.  Then I'm going to get offended when friends ask me how much weight I've lost.

5. I'm going to run through a dewy meadow at dawn.  Or run a marathon.  Or watch a marathon of Mad Men on DVD.  Or run mad through a crowd of men at Mardi Gras.  I'm not really sure where I'm going with this one.

Anyway, it's going well.  I'm feeling better every day.   And that's what matters, right?  That I'm healthier and better able to care for my kids and family.

And squeeze into those booty jeans.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Princess and Concerns About an Uncertain Future

Lately, Princess has been very bothered by the idea that she will have to leave us one day.

"But I never want to leave," she says tearfully, clutching a hot dog.  "I love it here."

"Honey, you don't have to worry about that for a long time," I say.

"But what will you do without me, Mommy?" she says.  "I don't want my own house.  I want to stay here with you and Daddy."

"You won't always feel that way," I say.  "Someday, you might want your own house."

"No," she says positively.

"What if you get married?" I ask.  "You and your husband and your children will want your own house."

"Married?" she asks.  "I could get married?"

"Not for a long, long time," I say.  "But someday, you might want to."

"I think Calvin will be my husband," she says.

"Who's Calvin?" I ask.

"Calvin and I can live in a house together, and you can visit us, Mommy," she says.  (Only she says "bisit" instead of "visit," because she's four.)

"Who is Calvin?" I repeat, a bit more forcefully.

"And when Calvin and I have our children, we'll come visit you," she continues.  "Don't get rid of my bed, okay, so I have a place to sleep when I come to visit."

"Okay," I say, my voice now shaking a little.  "I hope you'll come and visit all the time."

"Don't worry about it, Mommy," she says.  "Calvin and I won't let you be old and all alone."

"Thank you, sweetheart," I say tearfully.

I feel good about my parenting.  I'm going to bed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How To Make Your Husband Care About Lady GaGa

Deb: So the VMA's were last night.

Sven: Hmm.

Deb: Lady Gaga really had a good night.

Sven: Hmm.

Deb: She won eight awards.

Sven: Hmm.

Deb: You remember the Bad Romance video?

Sven: Hmm.

Deb: It won video of the year.

Sven: Hmm.

Deb: She was nominated for thirteen.  Isn't that incredible?

Sven: Hmm.

Deb: She wore a dress made out of meat.

Sven: Hmm.  [pause]  What kind of meat?


Monday, September 6, 2010

Short Take: Princess

Place: The Folksy bedroom
Time: This morning, around 3:00
Characters: Sven, Deb, and Princess (not yet five years old)

Princess: {enters room quietly} Excuse me, Father?  Father?
Sven: {mumbling} Yeah.
Princess: Father, may I please use the restroom?
Sven: Sure.

{A few minutes later}

Princess: Father?  Father?
Sven: Yeah.
Princess: I'm done.
Sven: Good.
Princess: Father, I'm going back to my bed now.
Sven: Good.
Princess: Good night, Father.
Sven: Good night, sweetie.
Princess: I love you.
Sven: I love you, too.
{Princess exits quietly.}

Deb: {after a few seconds} Who was that?
Sven: I'm not sure.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Post-Surgery Musin's

Last Wednesday, I entered Houston's Methodist Hospital for some routine laparoscopic surgery.  "It will be such a quick recovery!" I heard.  "Just a few small incisions!" I heard.

You know what I didn't hear?  "You will have gas pains in your chest, shoulder, and rib cage that won't go away until you fart the gas volume equivalent of a mature African elephant."  That's what I didn't hear.

Yes, friends, the worst part of my mostly easy recovery has been the strange gas pains that have settled in my shoulders.  I'm told there is a sound scientific reason for this, but part of me thinks the flamboyantly fabulous OR nurse (Kevin) just did it as a prank.

Not really.  Everyone at Methodist, from my wonderful surgeon to the anesthesia team, to the floor nurse and techs, to the food services and transportation people, were delightful, more than competent, and genuinely interested in my well-being.  I had a private room that rivaled those of a nice hotel.  My in-room TV had TBS, TNT, Comedy Central, Bravo, and E!.  It couldn't have been nicer.

That being said, a story...

My overnight technical aide (takes vitals, etc.) was a sweet Russian lady, who kept going on about my beautiful eyes.  It really gave me a nice little boost.  As I was leaving, she said, "Okay, pretty lady, when you go in to get your hair colored, ask for a lighter color to set off your eyes."  I said, "Oh, I don't have my hair colored."  She smiled and said, "You should."  Bless her heart.

It is now 6 days after surgery and I am doing great.  I'm still in some discomfort (come on, shoulder farts!) but nothing awful.  I'm sleeping well at night and walked over a mile today.  Very soon I should be a healthy, normal 30-something mom, able to keep up with my kids, teach school, cook dinner, perform my church calling, and play three different games on Facebook.

Life is good.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Love the Sixties

As a huge fan of the "I Love" series on VH-1 (I Love the Eighties, I Love the Nineties, I Love Toys, I Love Obscure Elvis Covers of Gospel Standards) it has always pained me that there has not been an installment addressing that most marvelous and controversial of decades, the Sixties.

The 1960's of course.  The 1860's were dreadful.  Nothing but civil war in America and Victorian England.  I can't imagine hipster comedians riffing on the strained relationship between Prince Albert and his oldest son, Edward.  ("Yeah, Albert and Edward were like the Biggie and Tupac of the 1860's, except, instead of getting shot, one got consumption and the other got syphilis.")

So, to fill the gap until VH-1 comes to its senses and creates "I Love the Sixties" (and brings back "The Best Day Ever With Paul F. Tompkins") here are some of the reasons I love the sixties, a decade which, technically, ended years before I was born:

1. Disney Feature Films.  The sixties were prime time for the Disney feature.  For animation, not so much; only three animated films were released in this decade (101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, and The Jungle Book) but a vast array of true classics starring actual people (and Hayley Mills) were produced in this decade:

  • Pollyanna (1960)
  • Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
  • The Parent Trap (1961)
  • Babes in Toyland (1961)
  • Mary Poppins (1964)
  • The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964)
  • That Darn Cat! (1965)
  • The Love Bug (1968)
  • The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969
(I have only listed my personal favorites, obviously.)  Each of these films is an indelible classic, taking us to times and places that really only existed in our imagination, but seemed real.  More importantly, these films set the stage for the all-important films of the 1970's, in which Jodie Foster wreaked havoc on the English countryside and Sandy Duncan was believable as an astrophysicist.

2. The Monkees.

That's really all I have.  Truthfully, I intensely dislike the sixties.  I will admit there were some good things: The Beatles, Camelot, Julie Andrews, etc.  Unfortunately, for me and many people my age, the sixties were ruined by the "sixties revival" of the eighties.  Suddenly, around 1987, all anyone could talk about was how nothing was good anymore, and how everything in the sixties was better.   Sixties TV was on all the time in reruns, music and music videos were going retro, even hippie fashion came back.  I was so sick of it all that I embraced the hair metal trend and slid right down into sort-of-goth, as evidenced by high school photos you will never see.

I suppose VH-1 knows what they are doing, keeping "I Love the Sixties" out of their "I Love" series.  After all, these are the geniuses who brought us Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Rehab, Flavor of Love, I Love New York, New York Goes to Hollywood, Rock of Love, Daisy of Love, I Love Money, For the Love of Ray J, Fantasia For Real, The Surreal Life, and The T.O Show.

They obviously know what they're doing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Winds of Change

Princess is growing up.

Here's how I know:

1. Change of Name: I am no longer "Mommy," "Mama," or even "Mom."  I am "Mother."  As in, "Mother, could you please tell Dexy not to disturb me while I am playing with my ponies?"  Additionally, Sven has become "Father."  She feels it's more sophisticated.

2. Big words: Princess has decided that she has to use the hardest word she knows for everything.  Unfortunately, in the way of four-year-olds, she has decided that the existence of a harder word negates the existence of an easy one.  Hence the following conversation:

Me: Princess, you can be quiet and let your brother sleep, or you can go downstairs.  Those are your choices.

Princess: Mother, those aren't choices.  You don't give me any choices.

Me: Princess, I just gave you two choices: be quiet or go downstairs.

Princess: Mother, those aren't CHOICES, those are OPTIONS.

Me: sigh

3. Teacher: Princess is now smarter than anyone else in our family, and most people not in our family.  She demonstrates her intelligence by teaching everyone else.  I hope it is to my credit that "teaching" to her means "giving a lot of verbal praise and encouragement."  Yesterday, I saw Princess teach a mother cat how to nurse.  It went like this:

Princess: Okay, Mama Cat, your kittens are right here.  Lie down and let them crawl over to you.  That's it, very good.  Oh, very good!  Now they're all getting a drink.  Okay, now this one's finished, so I'm going to take her and go play.  Is that all right?  (Cat meows)  Thank you, Mama Cat.

Then, as Princess walked by me with the tiny kitten in her arms, I heard her say, "Kitten, I like your attitude."

Don't we all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Manning It Up

I have noticed, in recent months, a disturbing trend.

Manscape, bromance, mantrum, manorexia.  These terms are, of course, the "male" versions of various nouns and verbs.

Manscape: when a man grooms his face.

Bromance: when two dudes have a close, totally non-gay friendship that involves manly sharing of confidences and occasional shameful tears.

Mantrum: when a man throws a tantrum.

Manorexia: when a man has anorexia.

Here's my problem, particularly with the last two: none of these words were previously defined as female-only, so to designate a special word for the "man" version implies that the "regular" version is, in fact, a female version, which is totally unfair.

Mantrum, for example, really chaps my burrito.  Because only women and small children throw tantrums, right?  If a man throws a tantrum, we have to have a special word for it, because men are ordinarily so stoic and calm that the throwing of a tantrum is an event worthy of word coinage.

You cannot see, but I hope you can sense, my eyeballs rolling into the back of my head at the absurdity of this logic.  Because the media, in its J-Lo induced frenzy to coin the new "hot phrase," is using the monkey/typewriter method: they're typing a bunch of poop and then throwing it at us to see what sticks.  Here are some of the other non-words we've been plagued with recently:

Nappetizer: when you take a nap right before bedtime.

Nontree: when you order an appetizer as your meal.

Staycation: when you stay at home instead of going out of town.

None of these are new concepts, right?  So what the media is basically doing here is taking an existing concept, coining a word, and then publishing an article about it claiming it is a "trend," hence the cute new word.

So here's my report on the latest trend: "Mannaptrums."  Here's my new report:

HOUSTON - Style watchers are reporting a new trend in male behavior, called "Mannaptrums."  Businesses and corporations, in response to this growing trend among males aged 29-54, are installing mannaptrum counselors and scheduled down time to deal with the problem.

"A mannaptrum," explains Shirley McDoody, someone who works here in some capacity, "is when a man gets sleepy and then he gets cranky and needs a nap.  Clearly, this is a detriment to the business world, so the mannaptrum counseling and intervention is a nap designed to circumvent the possible business-hampering tantrum."

"I think it's great," says Sven Folksypants, a teacher, father, and devastatingly handsome man-about-town.  "Now that I have a word for this, I can get away with telling my wife that I have to do it.  Hopefully they won't ever have a womannaptrum, because then the floor wouldn't ever get vacuumed."

I think it's going to catch on.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

No, I want this.

 I want a theremin.

A theremin is a musical instrument that emits radio waves.  When the player moves his or her hands within the field, the pitch that is emitted changes, as does the volume.  So you are basically making music by waving your hands around and not touching anything.  I think it is really cool.  And affordable!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is TB

Yes, Folksy Fans, it's August, which means that the holidays are just around the corner.  Since I know you are all sitting there, in front of your computers, pen poised over paper, dying to know what I want for Christmas, I thought I would share it with you.


No, not memories, I have plenty of those, thank you very much.  I'm not talking about some sappy, Walton-esque, perfect dream of a holiday that makes me mist up with tears when I'm old and grey and all of the children are gone and it's just me and a cat named Bootsie who eyes me with a somehow knowing glance as if calculating my net worth and the distance I would have to crawl to reach the telephone.

Memory.  Specifically, computer memory.

When I bought my beloved MacBook, the salesperson tried to talk me into an upgrade that would double the capacity of my hard drive.

"If you use your computer for media, especially video, you're going to want that memory," he argued.

"Trust me," I chuckled knowingly.  "250 gigs of memory will do me just fine."

I hope that salesperson refrained from shaking his head and clucking his tongue as I walked away, because he clearly understood what I did not: HD video, higher resolution cameras, and an iTunes account means that now I am down to my last 10 gigs.  A mere 10 episodes of Saturday Night Live stand between myself and the oblivion of a full hard drive.

This happened because of the magic of iTunes and instant gratification.  Why get in the car, go to Wal-Mart, search through fourteen separate bargain bins and 84 shelves of randomly arranged DVD's on the off chance that they have the movie I want, when a quick search of iTunes shows me they have it, often for the same price or cheaper?

"Piff," Sven spats, "twaddle.  What if your hard drive crashes, huh?" he asks, sorting through the 268 loose DVD's on the couch, attempting to find our fourth copy of "Sponge Bob Watches Dora."

"Well," I reason, "that's why I have a backup drive."

"And how often can you watch movies on your computer?" he further queries, taking the DVD to the DVD repair station to attempt to resurface away the skips and freezes.

"Pretty often," I reply.  "And if it's on my computer, I can put it on the iPod and we can take it to restaurants for the kids."

"That's true," he concedes.  "Still," he continues, allowing his righteous anger to inflame him again, "It's ridiculous to spend that much money on something that isn't really there."

"Daddy," Princess interrupts, "have you seen the My Little Pony movie?"

"No, baby," Sven replies.  "It's lost."  I wisely don't say anything.

Since it would be completely ridiculous for me to buy a new computer when this one is only three years old, the solution, clearly, is thusly: give Sven sole use of our current backup hard disk, the one with a paltry 320GB of storage, and purchase, for me, a portable hard drive with at least one TB of memory.

"TB" is the abbreviation for terabyte, or one trillion bytes of storage.  That's 1,000GB, or four times the capacity of my computer.

You're right.  It probably isn't enough.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Introverts vs. extroverts.

Faith-based vs. scientific.

Musical vs. visual.

Procrastinators vs. nerds.

Luke vs. Han.

Humor loving vs. evil.

Political vs. sincere.

Considerate vs. inconsiderate.

Selfless vs. self-involved.

Mountain lovers vs. water lovers.

Desert lovers vs. normal people.

Red vs. blue.

Agoraphobes vs. claustrophobes.

Hermits vs. gadflies.

Dreamer vs. goal-oriented

Which are you?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recipe: Double Pumpkin Bread

I generally don't post recipes, being domestically challenged, but there are a couple of things I make really well.  My pumpkin bread is one of the few things I feel I can really call "mine;" this is really my recipe.  I got the basic recipe from our ward Relief Society cookbook, but experimented until I came up with this one.  It is very rich and cake-like, with less fat than traditional pumpkin bread.

Preheat oven to 350 (for muffins) or 325 (for bread).

Sift together:
3 cups white flour (or 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
(1 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. dried orange peel, optional but recommended particularly for whole wheat recipe)
3 cups sugar

2 15-oz cans pumpkin (3 & 3/4 cups canned pumpkin)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 whole eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix well until completely blended.  Pour into muffin cups or loaf pans; fill about 1/2-2/3 to the top.  I use Pam Baking spray, or grease and flour pans.  (For muffins, I actually prefer not to use the little paper muffin cups, because it won't form that nice crisp crust.)  Bake, cool, and eat.

Trust me.  It is awesome.  Happy baking.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Strange Dichotomy

As long time and faithful readers of my blog know (all seven of you), I am both a frequent traveller and an abysmal housekeeper.

Would it surprise you to know that, when we travel, I am meticulous about keeping things neat and tidy?

It surprises me.  Hotels are where you are supposed to "let loose," flush inappropriate things down the toilet, roast goats in the trash can, etc.  Not me.  Sitting here now, in my luxurious king-sized room at the Radisson Hotel in Branson, MO, I can see the following:

1. All of the children's toys are neatly stowed in their respective toy bags.

2. All of the clean clothing is still neatly folded inside the suitcases and/or chest of drawers.

3. All of the dirty clothing is in the collapsible laundry basket that I brought with me from home.  That's right.  I brought a laundry basket on vacation.

The bathroom floor is dry.  The toothbrushes are lined up neatly on the counter by the sink.  The garbage is stowed in a bag, ready for the housekeeper to take away.  The massive balloon spider acquired today by Princess is keeping a solitary watch from the neat-as-a-pin desk.  In short, the room is orderly, organized, and utterly alien.

Not only that, but my car is clean.  I just went down five floors to the car, where I took a giant ziploc bag and emptied the day's smoothie cups and candy wrappers and discarded them.  Ordinarily, I clean my car when the trash level reaches the window and obstructs my view.

What is wrong with me?  Why can't I trash hotel rooms and clean up my own house?  It's a moral failing, I guess.  Perhaps I should hire a cleaning person.  If I knew someone was coming to my house to clean it, I'd be so mortified that they would see it dirty that I'd get it clean.


Saturday, July 10, 2010


Reading comments on news stories posted online is almost always a mistake.  To spare all of my readers the agony of actually doing this, I am going to simulate a news story and the comments that follow.  (The following news story and comments that follow are simulated.)

NEW YORK: Lady Gaga arrived for a meeting at the United Nations today wearing nothing but two strategically placed live squirrels.  Fifteen minutes later, in what she called a "shocking coincidence," Christina Aguilera entered the United Airlines terminal at LaGuardia Airport wearing fourteen drugged hamsters.  Animal rights groups have called for a boycott of both artists in the name of decency to all animals.  When contacted for a comment, Madonna gently pointed out in a semi-British accent that she has been wearing rodents on various parts of her person since 1987.  Lady Gaga has since apologized for the incident, which she calls a "misstep," and promises that, with help from her fans, she will get through this.  Christina Aguilera has repeatedly contacted us to give a response, but, frankly, we didn't want to call her back.

Feel free to leave a comment!  (Comments that are offensive to Shirley, our receptionist, will be deleted, but since she leaves at 3:00 on Fridays, it might take a while.)

Alice_Cullen_Is_Me says:   First!!!!

RonaldMcD says: lady gaga u rok i luv u

Helen1934 says: In my day, these women would have been shot and stuffed to teach other young girls a lesson.  This country is headed for disaster.  Obama wasn't even born here.

TwiHard73 says: First!!!

MickeyMousePants says: @Helen1934: Please stop spreading such ignorance. Obama was born in the US, he is our president, get over it.

RushIsRight says: Yet another example of how the liberal culture of this country is destroying the moral fiber of our families.  You didn't see this kind of stuff when Bush was president.

LadyHaHa says: I love Lady Gaga, but she shouldn't of done that.  That was straight up nasty.

Helen1934 says: This is America.  I have freedom of speech.  I can say that Obama was born on the moon in a secret communist cave if I want.  Liberals always talk about freedom of speech unless you say something they disagree with.  Hypocrites.

Tool_Fan says: What does Obama have to do with ths at all?  Christina Aguilera is pathetic.

RushIsRight says: Lady Gaga is a weapon the Obama administration has unleashed upon all of us to turn our children in to hedonistic secular liberals.

MickeyMousePants says: @Helen1934: Of course you have freedom of speech.  It doesn't mean what you are saying is true, and I am free to point that out.  How is that hypocritical?  @RushIsRight: I'm pretty sure Lady Gaga isn't working for the government.


DimitriIsMyName says: How would you even wear a hamster?

StephenieMeyerFan23 says: First!!!!

ShaBoom says: Who cares about this?  Why do newspapers even cover celebrities like this?  There is real news in the world, and anyone who cares about junk like this is part of the problem.

Perezey2101 says: So why are you reading it and commenting on it, @ShaBoom?

Helen1934 says: Hypocrite!

RushIsRight says: Seriously, either get in the debate or get out.

NOBAMA says: Sarah Palin 2012!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Technology and the Fast Pace and Loud Volume of Living

When I was a kid, a very little kid, I remember silence.

Momz was a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom).  This was the late 1970's, when such arrangements were a little more common.  We had two TV's, in those days: a luxurious, 19-inch color TV with a state-of-the-art antenna in the living room, and a 13-inch portable black-and-white with rabbit ears in my parents' room.  In  that far-off time, there were no remote controls: the television set had two dials that had to be changed by someone getting up, walking to the TV, changing the channel, adjusting the antenna, stepping back, frowning thoughtfully, adjusting the antenna again, being told to stop, adjusting the antenna again, then returning to the couch with an expression of remorse and anger.  This process would be repeated until we found something "on."  Commercials, in those days, were something we endured patiently.  No one "surfed" channels back then.  If we had even had the concept, we wouldn't have called it "surfing."  "Channel trudging," maybe, or "channel snow-shoeing," but not something as fluid and sporty as surfing.

In those golden times, we watched a little TV in the morning, then turned off the television.  Sometimes, we would listen to the record player (you heard me).  The Carpenters were a favorite, as was the Sound of Music soundtrack.  Neil Diamond was something to be saved until we were older and emotionally mature enough to handle the powerhouse that is Neil, but John Denver was deemed an acceptable, though daring, replacement.

Regardless of our activities, every day at noon, the music was silenced, the TV's were off, and we had "quiet time" for about 2 hours.  My sister and I were allowed to play quietly, or read, but we had to stay in our room and be quiet for two hours.

And we did it.  Almost every day, in fact.

What happened?  My kids do okay, but two hours of near silence in the middle of the day?  No, that's not happening, and it's not them, it's me.

I've always got something to do, it seems.  I've got dishes to wash, or laundry to fold, or a floor to vacuum.  I've got friends to chat with on Facebook, or an e-mail to reply to, or a voice mail to act upon.  If I've got a story to write or a book to read, I always think it can wait until later, but later never comes.  I have at least 4 DVD's that I haven't even taken out of the wrapper, two of which are over 2 years old.  I've got books I've never read.

This technology that we have, that can be such a blessing, has made things so complicated, I'm not even sure it's worth it anymore.  Imagine a time when, if you were unreachable, you were truly unreachable.  When some SAHM's didn't even have a car because it was okay to just stay at home all day and keep your house clean and spend time with your kids.  When you eagerly awaited seeing a movie in the theater because that was the only place you could see movies.  When there were times when there was nothing on TV.

I'm all for progress, and I love technology.  I just wish our ability to manage our time had grown as fast.