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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One down

In the wee hours of this morning, Fairly Odd Father kissed me goodbye and left for work. From there, he will hop on a plane to go see his sister and this little munchkin.

Lucky duck.

So, it'll be me and the rugrats for the next five days. This separation is nothing compared to what some of you endure, but it isn't all that common here. Even with his crazy work and school schedule, I can usually count on him walking through the door for dinner and to help at bedtime.

Wish me luck and sanity and hope that I don't run out of coffee.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Give Me Shelter: The Recession's Furry Victims

I learned yesterday that the MSPCA will be closing three of its Animal Care and Adoption Centers due to lack of funds.
Within the next several months, the shelters in Brockton ("our" shelter in Metro South), Martha's Vineyard and Springfield (Western New England) will all be closed.

This news is a death knoll for many, many unwanted household pets because, like the signs of foreclosure some see in their neighborhoods, this is just one scary red flag of what could come in the years ahead.

What will become of the small-town shelters that are often overrun with pets needing homes? When I worked for a small-town shelter, the salary paid to the Animal Control Officer was pitiful. Here is the person expected to scrape up roadkill, corral loose livestock, break up dog fights, get a skunk out of a fireplace, investigate your neighbor's dog who is out all all night. . . (I could go on and on); this person is expected to do this at any hour for a salary that many of us would find insulting. And, yet, towns are struggling to cover so many projects with too little money. "ACO" is just another line item on their budget and I imagine that some will scratch it out to fund other things like schools, road repair or town salaries.

What will become of the cats? We've been fortunate up here in New England with the success of the spay/neuter programs for dogs. In fact, many people need to adopt their Shelter Dogs from the south since there are so few in the area shelters. Indeed, the first time I walked into the Brockton MSPCA, I was stunned that there were only 3 or 4 dogs up for adoption. Even ten years ago, when I worked at a town shelter, we were full all the time.

But cats? Oy, they are still overrun with cats. Old cats, kittens, fat, skinny, long-haired, short-haired. The Brockton location has two areas to accommodate all the cats. The back room is filled with the traditional metal cages for the "more adoptable" cats: the cute, little, young ones. But, in the front of the shelter, there is a room filled with light and soft couches, chairs, cat toys and little "nooks" for hiding. This is where the older cats go: the ones who have been beloved pets for years before being surrendered. I can attest that these older cats usually do poorly in a noisy, cold metal cage. I love that they have this space to just "be cats", and that people could come in, sit on the couch, and give these creatures some affection.

Where will the "others" go? The rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and especially the "exotic" pets that some people adopt because they are "cool" but then realize they stink, or need to eat expensive food, or have insane vet bills. Many town shelters do not accept ANY of these animals; the MSPCA was the one place that did accept some. I'm doubtful that someone in Springfield who is under great financial strain will pack up their parrot, iguana, rabbit or 25 guinea pigs and drive them out to Boston to be surrendered.

As the recession gets worse, there will be more families who realize that they have to make a choice: feed and care for themselves, or for their pet. My heart goes out to them.

But, mostly it goes out to the people who work in the closing MSPCA shelters and to those animals who need it now and will need it in the months and years to come.

Sad times.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Le Nez Couverture: c'mon, I know you want one


Jilly, my little sprite, the one with the munchkin voice who flits around here like a ballerina on stimulants, will be six in a couple short weeks.


As hard as it is for me to accept that I have an eight-year-old daughter, it is even harder for me to wrap my head around Jilly turning 6. Maybe it is because I can still lift her with one arm, or because she still prefers to sit on my lap than anywhere else.

Maybe because she's "little" physically, I keep her little in my brain.

I think I expect less of her because of this: when she reads or does math in her head, I'm thrilled. When she goes to a playdate at a friend's house without me, I marvel at her independence. When she does her chores without being asked, I beam.

When she makes me a nose blanket all by herself, I am stunned by her ingenuity.

What? You do not know what a nose blanket is? Why, it's a. . .oh, I'll just show you:


Hey, my nose gets cold easily. What's a girl going to do?

So thanks Jilly, my smart little inventor. I think you are on to something.

And, I think D is trying to tell you something:


"My nose is cold too!"


I have a guest post today on MamaPop. If you would like to read of my affection for an Italian chef, I'll see you over there.

And, check out Fairly Odd Reviews for a little shout-out to the ball of fur in my life.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Debbie Does Dallas, but replace "Dallas" with "NYC" and "Debbie" with my name and then get your head out of the gutter

I've decided that if I lived in New York City, I'd be sweaty all the time.

And confused.

And stuck in a subway turnstile (oh, yes, I did get stuck and it sure isn't easy to do).

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE going to the city. It's just that I'm about as natural in the city as a baby deer in high heels.

But, when I had the opportunity to go to NYC for my most cool job to cover Toy Fair, I jumped at the chance. Two days without children! On my own! Wearing grown-up clothes and handing out business cards!

The only thing I forgot to do was train for a marathon. Because walking around Toy Fair for two days is like walking a marathon of epic proportions. Especially when you are carrying a heavy laptop and about two dozen press kits.

If you are wondering what I saw at Toy Fair, let me just say that you do not have to worry: even in these times of recession, there are plenty of people making loads of toys for your children. Some of them are great and many are not.

But, eh, who am I to judge those who want to play a little Finger Football? To each their own.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Embracing my inner weird and showing off some muscles (sic)

I've done it.

I'm Going to BlogHer '09

I've booked a ticket to attend the "big" BlogHer in Chicago this summer. Just typing this makes my hands sweat, but I know how excited I'll be to meet some blogging friends in real life.

I can't really justify the expense---it's not like I'm raking in big ad bucks (any ad bucks)---nor do I ever expect to be an "A-Lister", but after doing this for (gulp) two-and-a-half years, I want to get in on the party, learn a few new things, meet some of the people behind the blogs I love, and have an excuse to visit one of my favorite cities.

Plus, the 23rd is my birthday, so when I arrive Thursday night, I will be ready to have a little fun. Will you be there too?

For those of you who don't know what the heck I am talking about, I will leave you this little gem:


It is Jilly, posing with her muscles--er mussels. Yes, those are the shells of the ones she ate all by herself.


Impressive, eh?

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Isn't technology wonderful?

"Mommy, come here, come HERE!".

My four-year-old son's face was flush, and he was quivering with excitement when I walked into the front door of my sister's home. She had been watching my three kids (plus her two) for a few hours while I brought my mother to a meeting in the city.

"Wow", I thought. "What could have him so excited? Had my sister made something car-shaped for dinner? Had he built something amazing with Duplo blocks?"

He practically dragged me into the kitchen and showed me his cup. Full of water.

He pointed to the refrigerator and said in awe, "Water come from a fingy in there."

All hail the mighty in-refrigerator water dispenser. To think we spent thousands of dollars making him miserable at Disney when all he needed was a fridge with perks.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Because what is missing from Valentine's Day is a little deceit

Christmas has Santa

Easter has the Bunny

St. Patrick's Day has

Valentine's Day has. . . .the Mysterious Power of Love? Eh. . .

When Belly was a toddler, an online friend posted a Valentine's tradition that was so easy and flexible that I knew I had to try it out. We are now in our fifth year, and now the kids expect it. You'd think I'd be better prepared for it each year.

It does involve a bit of deceit, so if you are someone who thinks Santa and his ilk are terrible lies for children to believe, you may want to stop reading now.

OK, here is what you do to make your very own Valentine's Day Lollipop Plant:

1. A few days before Valentine's Day, give you child a small empty flower pot

Procrastinator version*: the night before, take your saddest looking house plant and, without letting the kids see, pull it out of the soil and throw it out into the backyard to serve as compost.

2. Let the kids decorate the outside of the pot with stickers, markers, glitter glue.

Procrastinator version*: skip this step; it is almost bedtime!

3. Once the decorations have dried, carefully fill the pot with several inches of fresh potting soil.

Procrastinator version*:
search garage, basement and shed for potting soil, to no avail. Either reuse the soil that was once the life force of the dead plant now lying in your backyard, OR, go into the yard with a spoon and chip off a half-inch of hard dry dirt from the frozen ground.

4. Give your child some tiny cinnamon hearts and have him push some into the dirt. Blow a kiss and water them a little bit.

Procrastinator version*: Oops! No cinnamon hearts? Use anything sprinkly or red and hope your kid is too young to notice the difference.

5. If you have started your plant a few days before Valentine's Day, you can make the plant start to grow over several days. The first night, cut up a few lollipop sticks into various heights. The first night, put the smallest sticks in the dirt so that the plant seems to be 'sprouting'. The next night, replace those sticks with slightly longer sticks. . .keep this up for a few days.

Procrastinator version*: You did not start your plant a few days before Valentine's Day.

6. The night before Valentine's Day (Valentine's Eve?), replace the sticks with several beautiful lollipops. Go to bed and know that you will be woken to the delighted shrieks of "it grew! it grew!"

Procrastinator version*: The night before, sneak out to the local
CVS after the kids have fallen to sleep and buy the last sad bag of lollipops (which are not red, heart shaped or have anything to do with Valentine's Day but beggars can't be choosers). Fall asleep but wake with a jolt at 6am and realize you forgot all about the damn plant. Tiptoe down the stairs, and carefully jam some pops into the dirt. If necessary, shield the plant from view with your body as you do this so your child does not see him mother's lame attempt at creating "magic".


7. Let your beloved eat lollipops before 8am. They will love you for it.


* taken from personal experience

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Monday, February 09, 2009

I'm not a quitter

A few people know that I've come about "this close" to giving up on homeschooling this year.

It wasn't because of one bad day, or even a stretch of time. It was more a feeling that maybe this wasn't such a great choice for us after all.

Some of this feeling was because this year has been one of adjustment. The biggest was the loss of a central meeting space for our large, multi-family coop. When oil prices skyrocketed, the church we were meeting in once a week (with its gym, classrooms and kitchen area) had to drop all its mid-week groups. Finding a new space that had all of these amenities (and was not occupied by preschools during the day) proved futile. And, so our group drifted apart.

There has been my ongoing struggle with Belly and math. We have switched to our third math program and, thankfully, no longer fight daily over her lessons, but she still struggles. I wonder, "is it me"?

There have been my concerns over Jilly, the "middle child" who does not have nearly the social network of my oldest. Wouldn't she be the cutest kid in her kindergarten class? Would she be happier, less melancholy about turning six?

Then there is D, whose speech is still a concern, as is his lack of same-age playmates.

And, then, because I am no martyr, there is me. Or "ME"! People joke that I spend a lot of time on the computer, but holymotherofwhomever, I think I'd go bat-shit crazy without the internet. In other words, I do get a little twitchy from having the kids near me all day long--especially as they get older and seem to need me less for survival and more for maid service. KWIM?

BUT, things have been looking up.

We've fallen into a better daily rhythm and probably a more realistic school work load than what we were attempting to do in the past. I've learned that if it ain't done by 1pm, it needs to wait to another day unless it involves coloring or reading. Belly is also making some small progress in math which is gratifying.

We've eliminated any morning activities or commitments, other than the occasional doctor appointments. Morning is for school and for my daily intake of coffee. Period.

I've started up a new coop with three like-minded friends. It is much smaller than our other coop, but the kids play well, I like the women and we rotate houses. We're also in our third year of meeting with another family every week to do history projects and that, thankfully, is still going strong.

We're trying to have more fun in the middle of the day, when kids are in school. This is perhaps the thing that Belly likes most about homeschooling: that she isn't in a classroom until after 3pm (her friends get off the bus close to 4). On Friday, we went sledding in the middle of the afternoon and had the slope to ourselves. Tomorrow, we're swimming midday at a newly refurbished YMCA (I call this "PE").

Small steps in the right direction, but they are starting to add up.

Next year, I'll have two children to report to the school district. Belly will be in 3rd grade, and Jilly will be in 1st. It won't get any easier but I do think this homeschooling thing is starting to grow on me.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

January ROFL: Not safe for those who embarrass easily


Before I announce my choice for a January ROFL, I'd like to post a disclaimer:

Aunt Barb, you are not allowed to click on the link below.

Ok, I feel better.

I'd like to award Attack of the Redneck Mommy a January ROFL for her post, "The Little Box Horror". I won't say too much about what the "box of horror" is, but I laughed (and blushed) too many times to count when I read this NC17 post.

(and, while you are visiting, make sure you read her happy news too)

Stop by Oh, the Joys and Chicky Chicky Baby for all of the January winners.

Want to be a part of February's ROFL's? Click here for more info.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Twitter versus Facebook: where is the love?

I've recently rejoined Facebook.

The first time I joined, it was as "Fairly Odd Mother", and I quit after a few months when the whole "Facebook hates breasts" controversy erupted. I was lured back in by friends who kept telling me of everyone I knew who had joined. This time, I joined using my real name, maiden name and all.

Twitter has been my little pal for a while longer. It took me a while to understand Twitter, and most importantly, to build up enough people to follow to make it interesting. Now I've progressed to the point where my Twitter updates are on the sidebar of this blog. I even use Tweetchat when I want to focus on a single topic (like Battlestar Gallactica Friday night at 10pm; Tweetchat room #bsg).

So, which do I prefer?

On Facebook, I now have 119 friends which include my husband, people I knew in high school and college (and haven't seen in over 20 years), my husband's aunt, my brother-in-law, people I only know through the blogosphere, and an ex-boyfriend and ex-boss. My photos, bio and even a link to this "anonymous" blog is now splayed out for all those people to see.

On Twitter, I am following 354 people and have 514 following me. This is not because what I say on Twitter is so interesting, but rather I get a little lazy in following people back. At some point, I'll probably follow most of those people too, except for Holy God, who I suspect isn't really who I think it is.

When I write my little (140 characters or less) quips on Twitter, I think less about what people will think of me. First of all, I'm "Fairly Odd Mother" and not my "real" name.

Second, what I say will soon get pushed to the bottom of the page and not be sitting there for hours and hours for my "followers" to read and ponder.

So, if Facebook is like having a meaningful relationship with someone, where you tell them the "25 random things about me" and send them little gifts or "pokes", Twitter is more like a "wham-bam-thank-you-man, get in/get out, hope-you-had-fun, now get the hell out of my bed" quickie. You may laugh, you may cry, but in the end you can walk away relatively unscathed.

I prefer the quickie.

That isn't to say I dislike Facebook. I've learned a ton of things about friends, love seeing photos from people I don't get to see in person nearly enough, and think there is something warm and fuzzy about getting friend requests from people I haven't talked to in a while.

But, when it comes to which is more of a time drain, Twitter is where it's at for me.

So, what about you? Do you have a preference? Do you use both? If one but not the other, why?

Or, if you use MySpace instead, what the hell are you thinking? Seriously, doesn't it give you a headache?

Maybe I'm just too old.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What a boy wants

Anyone know what D really wants?

D: "Mommy, I want that jumpy fingy."

Me: "What jumpy thing?"

D: "The fingy you get at Target and you jump and leave Earf and go into outer pace."

Well. . .I'm stumped. I didn't realize Target was into space travel.


And, remember my daughter who hates math? Check out Fairly Odd Reviews to see how Dreambox Learning is working to change her attitude.

(and, check out the site's great new look thanks to Izzy Design & Graphics)

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

I'll bring the kibble

It's late, I'm tired, but there is just one thought I must convey to anyone of you who may have the power to make dreams come true:

I want to spend the next Superbowl sitting in the middle of Puppy Bowl arena.

Thank you.