Monday, May 31, 2010

Hurling Invective

The Smaller Hooligan is EM-PHA-TIC.  When he wants to make a point his words take on a particular sound--each vowel is round and dense, a bowling ball encased in a hard consonant shell.  The subject matter is not necessarily of much consequence:  "MOM, I. HAVE. NO. PANTS!"  There is no inflection--it's a steady stream of capitals.  I am thrown against the wall and then I pick myself up and gesture towards the dryer.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ain't braggin

If it's true.  The man who lives in my house also cooks in my house.  We came home from a soccer tournament (it was a bloodbath.  Our blood.) to a table set with candles and plates heaped with fetuccine alfredo* with salmon, green beans, and homemade herb bread.  The hooligans were so hungry that they would have eaten cardboard, but I noticed.  Everything was excellent.  I heaped the praise on fairly thick, but he was still fishing after we cleaned up the kitchen, so I'm sending it out to the internet:  IT WAS A FABULOUS MEAL! THANK YOU!

*he made the sauce from scratch too.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fashion--who knew they noticed?


Really?  I actually always thought so too.   This one had cool graphics of smart cars and vespas, so I made an exception.  But that's ok, we'll give it to goodwill (I didn't really let him throw it out).

Aesthetic investments

A long time ago, The Larger Hooligan was a luscious scrumplet with fat pink cheeks, such sturdy legs! (his rolls had rolls...)  and a maniacal grin that showed teeth like pearls.

That lasted for a few months and then he tripped while barreling along the sidewalk and fell--I heard a CLICK!--shattering the right front tooth.  He didn't have a dentist--he didn't even have molars yet.  I spent the day at the University of Maryland Hospital ER, wringing my hands and curling into a fetal position under the gurney (The Man Who Lives In My House interjects here:  "You were NOT helpful.") while dental surgery residents poked and prodded, extracting the shards.  A child under anesthesia is disturbing to witness.  They make a lot of yodeling noises, even though they are clearly out of it.

So we got through that and he was asymmetrical for a long time.  He looked like a thug.  We got used to it.  He was a cute little thug.  And he never was a biter, anyway (small favors).

When the adult teeth grew in, they appeared to be a gift from my mother:  very white (good), very large (good, I guess),  and very bucked--sort of horizontal.  They looked comical, and a little awful, and expensive.

I just wrote a check to the orthodontist.  It was for approximately the same amount that we spent when we closed on our first house (Granted it was a very cheap house, thank you Baltimore.).  I can see similarities here:  we invested in a house, hoping that it's value might increase over 4 years, or at least we would break even with the tax write-offs.  Since we were in the escalating era of the early 2000s housing boom, this worked out better than we expected.

They sent us a picture and a nice note after he got the wires put on:  translated into laymen's terms, it would probably read: "Thank you for the money."  You're welcome, and thank you for your expertise.  Orthodonture is not in my DIY repetoire.

In terms of child rearing, I'm hoping nice, straight American chiclet teeth will help the Larger Hooligan to mature, pursue an education and satisfying line of work, and move into his own apartment. We'll know we're upside-down in our Hooligan investment if he ends up living in our basement.

To be on the safe side, I'm considering a houseboat:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Arts & Culture

Last fall, The Man Who Lives In My House had a meeting in Washington DC.  We made it into a family trip, with the idea of exposing the Hooligans to some art and culture at the various Smithsonians.  Here they are in the sculpture garden next to the National Gallery:

I think their thought bubbles would read, "Why can't we climb on that thing?  I've heard of typewriters, but why would you want to erase one? Art is so weird.  And why won't they let us walk on the grass?" Clearly, they're being inspired to great heights.  Since our return, they've mostly talked about how cool it was when we saw the Obamas' dog being walked on the White House lawn.  (It was cool!  Cute dog.)

This morning, (6 months later) I came into the dining room to discover that the Smaller Hooligan had been paying attention.  He built a fairly comprehensive museum using toys and artifacts and the kitchen stools.

It included the Natural History exhibit:

And Air and Space:

Buildings and Architecture:

Art, both folk:

And fine:

(This is an Italian landscape my genius painter/illustrator sister, Abigail Marble,  painted a few years ago.  I begged &  cajoled and whined until she gave it to me.  She will tell you I do that a lot.)

I guess it was worth missing a week of school.

Varmints vs. Chickens: Guess who's winning?

The other night, my friend Erika and her 3 children (1,6, & 8) were enjoying the evening air between downpours.  Their flock of 5 chickens had been sadly decimated by raccoons.  Normally, raccoons are stealthy, nocturnal prowlers.  But at six in the evening a big one decided to pay a visit to the chicken coop.

Before Erika and the kids' eyes, their one remaining chicken, Sunshine, was hauled off and devoured, head first.  As Erika described it, "We threw rocks and screamed.  The baby was mostly screaming because we were screaming.  We used all the rocks that had formed a cairn over Peeper's grave (Peeper was the first chicken to meet this fate).  My daughter screamed so loudly that the neighbors came running.  That raccoon didn't bat an eye.  The only good thing about it is that Sunshine was so lonely she had no will to live, anyway.  She had spent most of her time standing in the rain with her eyes shut.  There's nothing more pathetic than a depressed chicken.  She hadn't laid an egg in a week.  I went to inspect the damage: nothing left but feathers, feet, and a beak."

This is why I'm in favor of (a) large, noisy dogs who like chickens and hate raccoons:

Otto is out to get raccoons, squirrels, and unfortunately, the mailman.  He also thinks my neighbor's chihuahua may be a squirrel.  This is a problem, but you can see why he'd be confused....I never said he was bright, just well-intentioned.

And (b) backyard artillery.  Last week, I re-homed my 3 elderly chickens. They now reside at a farm-themed day-care.  They will not become soup, although they may be at risk of being hugged to death.   I have five new pullets in our coop.  I want them to survive and get to work laying eggs.  Today, we're going to the army surplus store.  We need floodlights, and a siren, maybe some bottle rockets.  Are those legal in Oregon?  Can we make some sort of blaster?  I may re-think my attitude about pit bulls, or at least get Otto one of those  macho, spiked collars. The hooligans are talking about booby traps:  watch your step.  By the end of the day,  I'm expecting a tiger pit.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I never took photos

This link made me laugh.  I could have contributed many times, but it never occurred to me to photograph things I'd rather forget....

  • Like when the Larger Hooligan sharpie'd the bed, carpet, and walls in our guest room when he was 18 months.  Nail polish remover got an amazing amount of it out.  
  • And the time he dropped our friends' cordless phone in a bucket of water.  
  • When he was 3, he was trying to help us in the basement.  He dropped a heavy can of paint ("It was grown-up paint, mom.").  It splattered everywhere.  Fortunately, it was not a finished basement.  His clothes were ruined, but otherwise, no harm done.
  • Oh, and this was a doozy:  When he was 18 months, the Stinkin' Aunts (My sister and Ilene) used to let him play in their parked car, which kept him busy and happy, so I let him play in our car while I worked in the yard. He had a grand time, honking the horn and poking all the buttons.  But then something in the electrical panel broke and had to be replaced ($300). 
  •  In first grade, he was racing with his friend on their bikes and he bashed into a parked car's rearview mirror, breaking it off.  Miraculously, no one was hurt.  It cost $152 to replace the mirror.  He's paying me back by picking up all the dog poop in the yard until he moves out.  I may come out ahead on that one.....

I know I will miss my children when they move out and the house will seem dull and empty...I think.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hardcore parenting

Since when is parent a verb, anyway?
And how hard am I supposed to be working at it?

Because the Larger Hooligan thinks he wants to sign on for the serious soccer league.....and they kind of make it seem like they're doing us a favor by allowing him to join (Check, please soccer mom, and sign this medical release form).

So on one hand, it's healthy to run around for two hours two times a week plus games on the weekends....year round.   But on the other hand, he is only 10.  Can't he just run around the neighborhood?  Does he need a coach? Is it necessary to be so regimented?

I need a coach to (a) tell me what I should do, and (b) make me go run around.  A sort of therapist/ trainer combo.  There's a niche market.  Somebody fill it and I will hire you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Modern primitive grandparents.

My parents are reluctant adopters of new technology.  I got my mom a cordless phone for her birthday in about 1992 when they were becoming a common thing.  She was insistent that she neither needed nor wanted it.  After about a week she called me:  "Well you won't believe what I'm doing!"  What might that be, mom?  "I'm weeding the garden and talking to you!"  She was positively gleeful.  She values efficiency and likes multi tasking (Virgo!).  I knew she would love it. Of course she still has that same phone, even though it is huge and clunky.  It falls off the cradle if you happen to brush past it on your way out of the kitchen.  It was not very well designed.  But it still works, and God forbid she upgrade.

The computer was similar.  They got one when my mom started doing my dad's bookkeeping.  And they felt they had to get to know this internet/email thing before they kicked the bucket.  Now if you're visiting them and my mom disappears, she's probably playing computer solitaire, or checking the weather in Michigan where she summered as a child, or sending on a mass email to everyone on her list ("Well I thought it was just hilarious.").  We may have a little intervention.

She has yet to start a blog or discover facebook, but it could happen.  She should start a blog:  then she could refute me--and promote her artistic endeavors.  Are you reading this, Mom? Here's one of her paintings:

String Trio

This one is called String Trio,  It's at the Rental Sales Gallery at the Portland Art Museum.  She's a Pro.  And i'm proud of her. Don't let her self-deprecating "It's just a hobby" attitude fool you.  Next time I'll plug my sister--she's a genius.

I don't even want to talk about her talking/driving habits.  At least she doesn't know how to text.

Last time they came to spend the day with us, they spent quite a bit of time passing one of our IPhones back and forth:  "Look at this!"  "Would you look at that." "Now how does that work?"  In an earlier era, I think they would have gladly signed over their all holdings and grandchildren in exchange.  No wonder beads and bits of copper bought the Dutch the island of Manhattan.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Midwestern roots: embrace them or deny them?

Option A: Embrace them in lovin' spoonfuls

My mother (from Indianapolis) believes that a can of cream of mushroom soup will make a meal out of most anything.  If she's feeling fancy she might use a packet of french onion soup mix. My father (Marshalltown, Iowa) heartily agrees, and always asks for seconds.  While they elected to leave the midwest, they remained true to it's food culture.

When Mamie (we didn't know she was Bad Grandma yet) came to help us when the larger hooligan was born, she was horrified that my pantry did not contain either of these essential ingredients.  She took care of that--I think she bought us a case of each.  We gave it away when we moved.  I had a lot of pot roast and tuna casserole post partum, and it was strangely delicious, under the circumstances.

The hooligans LOVE Mamie's food.  They ask me to make it.  And while I would not wish to eat canned-soup-based meals multiple times per week (as I did growing up), I do find a nice tuna casserole to be very comforting on occasion.  I make a white sauce from scratch, though--it takes very little time.  I don't think you really need the can of soup.

Option B:  Deny Deny Deny, and learn to cook Italian, and Indian and Thai (Pass the hot sauce, please)

The Man Who Lives In My House finds these meals abhorrent.  Like my parents, his mom was a Midwestern Refugee.  For her, fresh, delicious ethnic foods full of exotic spice and flavor represented a narrow escape from a life of bland canned casseroles. When Granny came to meet the larger hooligan and help out, she made us ratatouille from scratch.  It was delicious under any circumstance.  (My Father in Law is from New Orleans, and therefore is exempt from casserole issues.  His food culture is enviable.)

The Man tells a funny story about going with his mom to visit family in Oklahoma.  The Tulsa Paper had just published a recipe for an innovative new dish:  Chili-ghetti.  That would be a can of chili mixed with a can of spaghetti sauce dumped over macaroni. EEeeuuuw!  They were served Chili-ghetti for three or four nights running, as they made the rounds visiting aunts and cousins.  If you can do an Oklahoma/North Texas accent, say out loud, "Guess what Ah made fur dinner! Chill-Lee Ghetti!!" You can see why he would prefer to repress these memories.

Man Who Lives In My House was out of town for 3 days..  The Hooligans and I enjoyed pot roast and tuna casserole.  I draw the line at Chili-ghetti.  But my guess is the Hooligans would love it.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We must do this more often!

The Man Who Lives In My House has the great good fortune to also be a Man Who Likes His Co-Workers. Twisted, huh? I mean, this never happens. I am not kidding when I say we would be friends with these people anyway.  Actually, we ARE friends with these people.  In observance of this, we went out on a triple date on Friday night.  Adults only.

THAT got your attention.  I am serious.  We PAID sitters so we could go drink beer and eat burgers.  And it was totally worth it except that it rained--we had to drive instead of riding the tandem.  Rob (that would be the infamous "mother of all fathers" Rob.  Scroll back about a month.  You'll find it.),  made me laugh so hard that I had a little asthma attack. How suave.  At least I did not (quite) snort beer out my nose. Since I was wheezing, it's good we weren't on the tandem.  We just swung by the house so I could get a hit off my inhaler (sounds more fun than it is) before going to our next stop.

What kind of excitement do adults pursue after burgers and beer in Eugene, Oregon? That is such a good question.  It's kind of like high school--if no one's having a party, options can be quite limited.  Thank   goodness for that crazy Rob.  He made us go bowling.

I'll have to do this again, to asses whether I actually like bowling. Possibly I was in such a great mood that anything would have been fun (Could it have been my inhaler?  I've been using it for years.  It's never been fun before.).  I'm still giggling.  Maybe we should form a team.  We could have a team name. How about The Snorting Wheezers?  We will need bowling shirts with our names embroidered on them.  I would want a special name for bowling.  My bowling name is Louise- rhymes-with-wheeze.

The younger hooligan's soccer team is called The DRAGONBALLS.  I'm still giggling about that, too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Punk Rock Girl

This is a transcription of an interview of the small Hooligan, and his best buddy, whom we'll call Wingnut.

Cathy And Brook (Wingnut's parents) asked them about school over dinner:
Cathy: "Who is the funniest in the class?"

Wingnut: "Sm.Hooligan."

Brook: "Who is really creative?"

Sm.Hooligan: "Wingnut."

Brook: "Who is the prettiest girl in your class?"

 "J--. She's so punk."
And on it went...."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

my subconscious is bored

I dreamt I was lecturing the Hooligans re: picking up after themselves.  There were socks and legos on the floor (in my dream and in reality) and I was outraged and nagging (in my dream and in reality).  It was so realistically mundane that when I awoke I was surprised to find myself in bed.

Aren't dreams are supposed to be freaky and interesting?  That was pathetic.  Even my subconscious thinks I am understimulated.  Clearly I need to take on something difficult and absorbing:  something beyond laundry.  At the very least I need to blog more, or go to the library, or law school (joke!).  But first I MUST mow the lawn.

Speaking of mundane,  Bad Grandma's sister, Conservative Great Aunt, shared this comment via facebook:

 "There's no such word as "snuck" think that my very own niece with an off the wall I.Q.* used such a non-word is appaling!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Appaling", is that spelled correctly?   I think not, and Bad Grandma  will let us know for certain.  Clearly, excessive concern with issues of minor import runs in my family.  Socks don't belong on the floor!  Snuck is not a word!  You misspelled appalling! The lawn is too long! Why on earth do we care?  

But hey, at least we're not all republicans.  

* ("Off the wall IQ"   Huh.  I'm not sure whether she means I am clever or nutty, but I'll take either as a compliment.  Thank you, Conservative Great Aunt.) 
Here is Conservative Great Aunt holding the large hooligan when he was a large infant....