Thursday, August 30, 2007

Morning at the beach

I packed three kids into the car early this morning in an attempt to escape the heat. It is probably about 100 now in the Conejo Valley. The weather in Malibu was absolutely perfect. Not a cloud in the sky and a slight breeze helped keep us all cool. The kids were freakin wild and as I stood on the beach watching the three of them tempt fate in the waves I thought, "what the hell was I thinking about bringing three young children to the beach!" I almost had a heart attack a few times when a big wave would come crashing and the three barely made it back to the beach. But I held back, as much as I wanted to run and scoop them all up.

I also met a lovely woman and her son. The reason I mention it is because this woman, Lisa, has the personality I dream of having. The woman must have spoken with at least a dozen people as we watched our kids and then headed across the street to have lunch (with the richies) at a little place in the Malibu Country Mart. She came up to me and said something like, "I hope you don't mind if we hang out because I think our kids might have fun together." Then she invited me to join her and another friend for lunch. She calmly reprimanded my son for throwing sand, she asked another woman if she would mind if we sat at her table and she picked up another conversation with a woman sitting alone on a bench. That is more talking with strangers than I usually do in a whole month. She seems like one of those women who can easily strike up a conversation with someone standing in line at the supermarket. I love that. I wish I could be like that. I know that unless I decided to become heavily medicated I'll never be that way, but it is refreshing to meet friendly people like that. It's too bad she lives about 30 minutes from us.... actually, lucky for her or else I might just try to hang out with her more often:)

We're now back in the oven. I broke down and turned on the air because my daughter is napping. The boys are tearing about the playroom, so I better go investigate. Only about 5 more hours before it will be cool enough to run around outside.... help!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Black Hole

I was crunching some of our household numbers today and the song "Black Hole Sun" game into my head. My budget doesn't have anything to do with that song, but whenever I am thinking of black holes that song just immediately begins to play.

There is a black hole in our household. It is eating up money and we can't quite figure out where it is all going. When the kids start preschool in the fall -- daughter's first year of school and my son's last year of preschool -- I'll be able to put in a few more hours at work. Of course, all that extra money will quickly disappear to pay for the crazy preschool costs. After I pay taxes on my salary, I'm left with enough for each hour of work to buy some sort of Venti concoction at Starbucks.
Ah, well, they really need school and my work needs more attention than I can give it when I'm trying to put tape over my kids' mouths as I make an important phone call (kidding...)

In any case, the Crouse Haus is going on a serious budget diet. The kids are going to be moaning about going without fancy stickers and disgusting junk food. I'm going to go back to home coloring for my hair -- looks like I'll be back to brown, since I'm not allowed to attempt blond at home after the strawberry blond incident. As for my husband... he already does with so little and he works like a dog -- I think he can continue to get his fancy-pants beers.

Monday, August 27, 2007

That's just gross!

My kids are about average on the gross factor. They do things all the time that give me the heebie-jeebies. My son once licked the floor of an ice-cream store... I guess he wanted to see what it flavor it was. In public restrooms, my daughter likes to put her hands in the bubbles that are left behind after she has washed her hands -- doesn't she know how many dirty people have washed their hands in those sinks?!

This evening my daughter did something, that I'm sure seemed perfectly natural to her, but it totally grossed me out. We have two step-stools in the bathroom for the one sink. The kids stand side by side to brush their teeth. First I brush my son's teeth and my daughter does her own, then we switch. Tonight I was brushing my son's teeth and he spit in the sink -- so far, so good. My daughter immediately dipped her toothbrush in the foam her brother just spat out and before I could stop it, the toothbrush was back in her mouth. Ew! Double ew! We either need to think about remodeling the kids' bath to include two sinks or we have to move.

Demogirl has left the building

Demogirl, who happens to be my baby sister, moved out of the Crouse Haus on Saturday. We are all sad to see her go and the kids keep looking at the room where she was sleeping and they sadly ask, "where's Aunt Molly?" It was so nice having her with us the past 3 months but I'm sure she'll be much happier not having to share a bathroom with two preschoolers.
Demogirl is headed up to S.F. to put down some roots and make some business contacts.
If you see her walking around the streets of San Francisco, be sure to say "hi".

We wish you luck, Balz, and we hope you get a really big apartment so the members of the Crouse Haus can come up for a visit soon. Heehaw!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Driving with the windows down and 100%

I got my first car when I turned 18. It was a 1992 Toyota Tercel... my car payment never went about $108/mo. It was a great little car and got me across the country a couple of times before I traded it in (read: gave it away) in 1999. My little green car had no air conditioning -- the car was manual transmission, no air, no cd or tape player, manual windows, no floor mats!
I moved to the mountains of Colorado shortly after I bought the car, so the no air thing didn't matter. It only came into play when I was driving for a visit home and had to drive through Las Vegas in the middle of July. I also moved to North Carolina for a spell, and air would have come in handy during the humid summer months.
Needless to say, the windows were often down in my car. I took for granted all of the sounds, feelings and smells you experience while driving with the windows down. I currently have a minivan (barf) and living in the hot Conejo Valley I rarely have the windows down. Yesterday as the kids and I were driving around doing errands I put down three windows to circulate the stale air. Wow, it felt freakin great. I could hear all the traffic around me, the moving air felt great on my face and there was something about listening to "Rock 'N Roll Radio" (yes, I own the Shrek III soundtrack) with the windows down that made the music seem more, well, rockin!
I'm definitely going to drive with the wind blowing my hair more often.

I received the score on my first test from my online writing class -- 100%. Yes! I still remember some of the grammar I learned in high school:) The first exercise was a grammar test, so it was yes and no answers. The test has me very excited about the next lecture. I hope that the writing assignments can kick my butt into high gear and get me more motivated about writing again.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Love Stubb's BBQ and Pippi

The BBQ went well at our pad today. I think I'm getting the hang of it and, really, it is easy as long as I have my pal Stubbs in the pantry. I got turned onto this BBQ sauce a few months back and I can't go wrong with it. Ribs in the crockpot... done! Steak on the bbq, easy. Today I was bold and I prepared chicken, ribs and veggie skewers -- all marinated in various Stubb's creations. Our buddy Paul took a few bites of the ribs and said to me, "tell me everything you can about these ribs." Dude, the ribs were on sale for about $1 a pound at Vons and Stubb's did the rest:)

After the other adults left our place, we ended up with two extra kids. Our kids wanted their cousins to stay the night and we decided we had enough energy left to brush two extra sets of teeth. I checked "Pippi in the South Seas" out of the library the other day and turned it on for the kids tonight. Man, they loved it. Some of it was, of course, a bit corny, but I still freakin love that movie. I remember watching it as a kid... it was on like 3 or 4 times a year on Channel 5 out here. I'm going to check out some of the other Pippi episodes -- it's such an innocent movie and I'll happily let him watch things like Pippi as long as I can get away with it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Can't close a bad book

I have a problem. I can't stop reading a bad book, even if I am not enjoying it.
I have been a lover of books since I can remember. I think I came out of the womb loving words.
I would love to finish one of the books I have started writing but my problem is that my writing is not so great. I think that is why I have a problem dissing a book that isn't satisfying. Who am I to give up one someone who has been published?

I love to read anything. I read blogs, I read books, magazines, junk mail....
When I read beautiful prose, I feel really good. Many (many, many) times I don't "get" a book, but if the writing is pretty, I keep reading because I get some sort of euphoric feeling from reading those beautiful words. One recent example is "Arlington Park" by Rachel Cusk. The book left me feeling a little dirty and sad because the women in the book were scary to me. But the writing, man, it was really good.

In the library I usually have about 10 seconds to choose a book. The kids and I usually pick out books for them and then head over to the "grownup" section. The new books are right near the children's section, so I scan the stacks and grab one or two books before my two kids start to climb up the bookcases. The oldies don't take kindly to little monkeys disturbing their browsing in the "Large Print" section. I know... I worked in the library (loved it!) in high school and those seniors can get downright bitchy if children run wild.

This past trip I grabbed two books. I started the first one a few nights ago and it is painful. I won't name names -- as I said above, who am I to say a published writer (this one is a first novel) is crappy? It's like watching a stiff teenager "acting" in a play. You want to turn away, but you feel you owe them some respect.
I don't know if I'll be able to finish this one, but I'm sure going to try. The crazy thing about this book is that some of the writing looks very familiar. I scanned some of my own journals and noticed that, yes, I am that bad. Time to read some more quality books and see if that will help my own writing improve. I'm also about to start an online course to help improve my writing and hopefully get some criticism. I've never taken an online writing class before, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

He is my son

I have seen the movie Iron Giant so many times, and I cannot stop myself from crying every single time. I am a very emotional person and cry when I hear a sad song, see a sad movie, or hear a sad story. The waterworks are always waiting to be turned on.
My son is so much like me -- he is super sensitive.

I have sung to my kids since they were born. I sing the songs my mom sang to me as a child. Two songs that used to be in the loop were "Molly Malone" and "You Are My Sunshine". Lucas has not allowed me to sing these songs since he was old enough to protest... "too sad, mommy."
My kids are now sharing a bedroom and the other night Amanda requested "Molly Malone". Lucas said, "No." She then requested "You Are My Sunshine" so I sang.
After the song was finished, I noticed my son was hiding under his blanket. I peeked under and asked if he was OK and the waterworks started. He was so, so sad. The song just brought him to tears. I better not bring out Danny Boy -- that was banned about two years ago.

Unlike my son, I do enjoy a good sad song and the tears that go along with it. I'd be right at home in an Irish pub listening to a sorrowful song while the whole place is brought to tears.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

He won't do that again

I guess it is one of those lessons that my son really wanted to find out for himself. He just didn't believe my husband or myself. Granted, he doesn't see the iron very often because I could theoretically work in my pajamas so I don't really own many clothes that require anything more than prompt removal from the dryer. I do have one pair of pants that like to wrinkle if you even threaten to wash them. I decided to wear them to a BBQ yesterday afternoon, which meant I would have to iron them. Out came the ironing board and iron. Son said he wanted to sit on my bed and watch me de-wrinkle my pants. I said that was fine. He kept asking if the iron was hot, and how hot is the iron, and on and on. I told him he needed to stay away from it because it is very, very hot and could badly hurt him.
My husband entered the room and we started to talk while I toiled. My son got off the bed and asked again how hot the iron was (I'm going to take him to the doctor Monday to test for brain damange) and my husband and I both said, it's very hot, just don't touch it -- we were both getting a little annoyed. The kid, didn't seem to believe us because he made like he was going to walk out of the room and then he quickly backtracked and held out his hand and grabbed the iron before I could stop him.
Of course, there was much screaming. I know it must have hurt like hell and he definitely wasn't expecting pain like that. We held off on the lectures and raced him to the kitchen to put his hand under cold water. However, since we have a flat roof and our pipes are on the roof, there was no freakin cold water coming out of the faucet -- it takes a few minutes.
I grabbed some ice cubes, threw them in a pick cup of water and put his hand in there.
It wasn't a bad burn.. but it did leave a little blister and hopefully a painful memory for the child.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Goodbye Hal Fishman

I woke up this morning to sad news.... Hal Fishman passed away early this morning. Hal was already in his "Golden Years" by the time I really started watching the news. I think that I thought he would always be there, he'd would continue to read the 10 o'clock news even after I grew old. I didn't know Mr. Fishman, but he was a constantly in my living room. Phil and I loved watching him, and sometimes poking a bit of fun at him. I always imagined him as a really smart, nice guy and I often wondered why he decided to stay in local news for so many years.
My wonderful uncle, who died a decade ago, told me stories of having Hal Fishman as his political science professor... I was always amazed and could never figure out how old Hal Fishman really was. I mean, he was teaching my Uncle political science way back in the day and he'd been on the news as long as I could remember. I never thought to look up his age, it didn't really matter. It just mattered that this friendly face would always be invited into my house via the tv.

I'll miss Hal Fishman. There isn't really anyone like him in news that I can think of.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ralph Nader flick and Ode To My Legs

Husband and I sat down and actually watched a whole movie together last night. I didn't get up a hundred times to clean something and I wasn't working on my laptop as I usually do when I "watch" a movie. Netflix delivered "An Unreasonable Man" to our house and we loved it. Well... as much as you can love a documentary. The movie was really interesting and I felt even more warm towards Nader than I did before I watched the film.
I also felt even colder toward Michael Moore than I did before. I think the first words out of my mouth after we turned off the movie were "Michael Moore is a total motherfucker" (excuse my language).
Anyway, I recommend renting it.

Ode To My Legs
Legs, legs, what are you doing to me?
In the shower I looked behind my knee and I moaned, but I'm only thirty-three!

A tiny patch of spider veins stared at me with angry red eyes

Legs, we've been through so much
How can you turn on me like this, after all I've done for you
I've tried to keep you trim and keep you out of the sun
The waxing, the shaving, the self-tanning lotion
This is how you repay me

If that's how you feel, I'm going to kick your ass on the treadmill tonight
Watch out legs, I'm going to bring on the pain