Saturday, July 28, 2007

An Open Letter to Our Bath Toys....

My worthy adversaries,

It is with a heavy heart that I surrender to you. Ours has been a war hard-fought, but I am weary. Your campaign for freedom against the confines of your containers has been admirable, and I realize that my efforts to constantly corral and clean you are in vain.

I realize that I am, in part, to blame. To expect that you would stay organized, satisfied to sit unused 23 hours a day, was - to say the least - unrealistic. But one needs some sense of order, and for far too long I have lived under the delusion that I can keep you in line. That dream is shattered and I stand before you a broken woman.

I have to admit that one of the harshest blows was when you turned my own children against me. You were able to cunningly convince them to spread you out not only in the tub, where you were sure to trip us every chance you had, but throughout the entire house. That strategy allowed you to engage allies and increase your ranks; the day I found my whisk and strainer in the tub I knew we were outnumbered.

The crowning moment, however, when I knew all was lost, was the moment I realized you were evolving - no longer content to be mere plastic and mesh. The bleach-resistant slime that now coats your bodies seems to have become a permanent part of you biological make-up. I cannot challenge the very forces of nature that seem to be aiding your cause.

Perhaps we shall meet again someday on the battlefield. Until then, I salute you.

Beta Mom

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And the Oscar goes to.....

This is a quick one today...

Perhaps you've seen this article making the internet rounds? It features Oscar the cat, who lives right here in my very own state. Oscar has an uncanny knack for identifying patients in a nursing home who are ready to, for lack of a better word, transition into the great beyond. (Which, by the way, for me would be one giant movie theater with an endless supply of hot tamales. If it’s Heaven or Hell depends on what’s playing. Another topic for another day.) In 25 cases, Oscar has taken up residence at the bedside of a patient who died within a matter of hours.

You can click on the link below (or perhaps cut and paste - I really don't know how these things work) to read it, but promise me you'll come back.

Okay, back now? How about now? Now? Good.

I have a couple of thoughts about this. I know I'm getting off the family/mom track today, but I can't help myself.

First - it's a nursing home, people. The chances of Oscar cuddling up next to a person whose death is imminent must be pretty good. It'd be a little freakier if Oscar just ambled up to 25 random people on the street, all of whom in a short period of time met some untimely fate. If fact, that would be awesome...well for the cat, not the people.

Second -does no one find this just a little suspicious? This cat has a better track record than Jack Kevorkian. Has a criminal background check been done? Has anyone checked this cat's apartment for estate jewelry and black market geretol? Do you, in fact, have a cat that looks like this one who comes home late at night bearing expensive gifts and smelling of Bengay?

Thoughts about Osacar?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hairy Squatter and the Deathly 'Mallows

Do you know what we had at our house this weekend? A tarantula. A real one, too - not some fake "spamantula". And do you know who handled that puppy? Who's fearless? Who's got nerves of steel? This bad girl right here. That's right, me - the Beta MASTER!

Well, me and my five year old.

At my place of employ, where we enrich the great minds of tomorrow, and some of the mediocre as well, we have an upcoming program about bugs. As part of this educational experience we have arranged to borrow live bugs from CJ - the overly enthusiastic bug guy from our local reptile emporium. CJ was more than delighted to lend us some bugs that were, in his words, "handleable".

Oh, how the children and I would laugh and play as we looked at grasshoppers and ladybugs and caterpillars.

Five tarantulas, three scorpions, a Vietnamese centipede and several varieties of venomous spiders (not handleable) later I knew I was in deep dung beetles. Thank god for Myrta, the amazing science educator, who stepped up and offered to join us for our public program. She of steady hand and brave heart would hold the tarantulas. I would stand to the side smiling and trying not to pee myself.

Once I knew I was off the hook, however, a desire to conquer my fear welled up in me. I couldn't let the bug get the better of me. I decided to bring one tarantula home for my own little test audience. Plus, as this is a tough city bug, I thought it might enjoy a relaxing weekend by the seashore. My own little Fresh Air arachnid program.

HIDDEN AGENDA ALERT - Okay, I have to admit there was a dual benefit to this little exercise. My nine year old son was having a friend sleep over, and in my shameless campaign for coolest mother in the universe, I thought bringing a tarantula home might buy me a little street cred. There is some Alpha-like behavior here, and I don't want to talk about it anymore.

I brought the beast home and was greeted with the expected oohs and ahhs.

"Can we take it out now?"
"Let's wait until after dinner."
"How about now"
"Let's wait until after we clean up the dishes."
"Let's wait until after the housing market rebounds."

Knowing I couldn't stall any longer, we sat in a circle in our living room, squirming with anticipation. VERY SLOOOOWLY we opened the lid of the container and I VERY GENTLY lifted the creature from container. Knowing we were all nervous I tried to comfort the kids in what I thought was a relaxed tone, but I'm sure the pitch in my voice was reaching every dog, dolphin and Backstreet Boy within a 100 mile radius.

As we let the thing crawl around on our hands and arms we relaxed. For the most part it cooperated and moved very slowly, as if it understood that it was working with a remedial bug crowd. We even enjoyed it...a little. I'm not sayin' I want to take the thing to the movies or make any kind of life plan with it - I'm just saying that it wasn't awful.

I, having overcome my fear, felt tough as nails. I wanted to go out and ride a bull or start a bar fight or at least post an angry blog. Instead, we put our little friend back in its container and went outside to toast marshmallows and make s’mores, feeling as though we had a greater appreciation for mother nature and the wonder of her creatures great and small and hairy.

After about 5 minutes a swarm of killer mosquitoes descended upon us and sent us crying into the house like babies.

I think we'll just stick with giant spiders from now on.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Coming soon...

Hang in there - tune in tomorrow for the exciting tale of a mom, a tarantula and some toasted marshmallows!

Friday, July 20, 2007

You might be a Beta Mom if....

you've ever spackled a hole in your wall with toothpaste.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

They got them movin' pictures now....

I am now a multi-media event! As you may have noticed, in the interest of keeping it amusing, I've added a video bar to my blog page. Now, I don't have any editorial control over the content - I can't event choose the specific videos. I can simply define a general category - funny kids for example. So if we end up with videos of baby goats telling knock-knock jokes don't come runnin' to me people.

But in the interest of being responsive to my public - Mom, Aunt Liz - I'd like to know what you think about our new video addition.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What was I saying?

Well, I'm back to work. I tried to explain to my boss that I had started a blog and I really needed to devote my time and energy to pondering the parental existence and thus I would no longer be able to actually, well, work. This was not met with the open-arms of support that I had hoped for so the blog got wait-listed.

That, and it took me another week to think of something to write. You should know now - I'm kinda stupid.

I wasn't always. I'm certain I wasn't born stupid, nor was I raised stupid. I used to be quite sharp. I could hold my own in intellectual circles, trading interesting tidbits of trivia blended with insightful commentary on world events. No, I'm convinced I remember a time when I knew a bucket o' stuff. Then came the children, and my life became a sort of blurry haze. It didn't happen all at once; it was more like a slow leak. Like a snail, I've left a trail of intelligence slime along the path and now I'm nothing but a shell and some confused jelly.

Nine years of sleep deprivation, cheerio crumbs and Barney have left me somewhat dim. It's very hard to think about stability in the Middle East when I'm pondering such questions as "Where is that smell coming from?".

To try and stem the loss of brain cells, I thought about joining a book club. Then I remembered that the last book I'd read was "Clifford's Big Vacation".
"Tell us, what did you think about the piece?"
"Well, I think Mr. Bleakman's resentment of Clifford is a thinly veiled attempt to come to terms with his own discomfort about his failures in life. No matter how hard he tries, he will simply never be big enough....or red enough. Obviously, Emily Elizabeth serves as the catalyst for Mr. Bleakman's redemption."

I think not.

I had heard that learning a new hobby was a great was to keep the mind active, so I decided to try knitting. My son's classmates, mere children of 7 and 8 at the time, were prodigious knitters. If they could do it, so could I! I imagined all of the money we would save by making beautiful hand made scarves for our families at Christmas. $200 in yarn and needles later, I have several stretches of wool that could be at best described as fuzzy tootsie rolls. I plan to give them out next year as a new product I call "Finger Cozies". If you get one, act surprised.

Then I tried to learn a new language; perhaps with my new skill I could travel the world. This challenge was met with moderate success, until I learned that no one in the world actually speaks Ubby-Dubby except for the Zoom kids.

I have to admit that there have been some trade-offs. For all of the knowledge and common sense I have lost over the years, I have gained as well. For example, I now know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so that the bread doesn't get soggy. I can break into a locked room from the outside. I know all of the words to the Hanna Montana theme song. I know the number for poison control.

Now if I could only figure out where that smell is coming from.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

You might be a Beta Mom if....

you consider pajamas "casual sportswear".

Friday, July 6, 2007

Beta Mom's movie review...

"Evening"...see it.

Where dreams come true - ish....

(Forgive the delay in this somewhat time-sensitive topic; I'm working on Beta vacation time, which is almost like moving backwards, except without so much work.)

While perusing the "news" this past week (i.e. watching the Harry Potter trailer for the umpteenth time and cruising Craigslist for free stuff) I came across this bit about anticipated 4th of July celebrations.

"At Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., officials plan to pronounce citizenship on 1,000 people at a "Dreams Come True" ceremony near Cinderella's castle. Singers Gloria Estefan and Lee Greenwood are expected to make appearances. Later, new citizens will head down Main Street USA for a parade in their honor."

Do you think when our founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence this is the kind of thing they had in mind?

Please don't misunderstand, I'm all for immigration and am happy to welcome our new citizens. I say throw the doors wide open - why should we hog all of the Walmarts, monster truck rallies and American Idol episodes for ourselves simply because we had the good fortune to be born here? But I have to wonder - if you're sworn in on the steps of a pretend castle in the presence of costumed characters are you a citizen, or a citizketeer? Have you dreamt of the day when you gather your family around and celebrate your newly acquired status with wine, bread, salt, and Dippin' Dots?

(Truthfully, I am a Disney fan. This is not something I can readily admit in the academic atmosphere of my workplace, but I know I'm safe here with my trusted friends, or lovely strangers who happened upon this blog because they were, in fact, looking for "better mom's blog". Anywho....I'm a total sucker for the place. I don't love it for the children's sake, either; in fact, it would be a lot easier to get around the place without them. But, unlike the cats, we have to take them with us on vacation, so we go.)

I would think that after such an idyllic start, the rest of your life as a citizen would seem somewhat mundane. If Disney World is going to hold itself up as the ultimate American experience for our new countrymen and women they should responsibly add some attractions that represent the truth about the ins and outs of daily life. Rides such as Reality Raceway, Mortgage Mountain, Slippin' Salary and the Tower of Terrible Twos come to mind.

Perhaps a whole new park is in order? Do you think people will pay $240 a day to come to my house?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Cleaning the shed

Well, the shed excavation has begun. A geologic expedition uncovering of the layers of our lives.

I am a recovering hoarder. It has been 67 days since I last hoarded. One day at a time, I resist the urge to collect. It's not as easy as it sounds, you know. There are temptations everywhere. There I'll be, enjoying quality time with friends, when I'll see one out of the corner of my eye. A pusher. You know the kind - all smiles, pretending to be your best friend, buttering you up, when all they want to do is unload their clutter onto you:

"Hey, howya' doin'? You look great - is your hair different? That is a fabulous color on you. You know, you're going to think I'm crazy, but I was just thinking how great this electronic salad spinner/egg timer would look in your kitchen. Come on, it's just a little piece of plastic. What's it gonna hurt? Everyone's got one. You know you want it."

And I do - I want that salad spinner so bad I can taste it. I envision a life of ideally moist yet crisp lettuce topped with perfectly cooked eggs and I can't help myself. I cannot resist the lure of free items. And my shed shows it, because we all know the rest of the story. The crisper never gets used, my lettuce remains soggy, and eventually the appliance takes its proper place in the strata of my collecting world. I won't, nay, CAN'T get rid of it, of course, because it was FREE.

I'd like to take a moment to shift blame, if I may. I was genetically doomed from the beginning. My parents are collectors, as were their parents, and their parents before. I imagine my parents at the hospital after my birth, packing up to take me home for the first time:

"Honey, do you have the little hat she came with? How about the blankets? Just one? There's three more over there on that other baby - just grab a couple of those, I'm sure no one will mind. How about those diaper pins? Bottles? Towels? Maybe that incubator light? Television? You know what, better grab that placenta too, you just never know."

What chance did I have?

More to come later on this.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


It's my vacation! Now, for many people a vacation brings with it a relaxing change of pace, a lessening of responsibility, perhaps a jaunt away from home. For this working mom, the stakes are much higher - I have just a precious few days to pack in all of the quality time that I fret I'm missing when I'm away working at the salt mines. All of my hopes and dreams for maintaining a meaningful relationship with my family that is balanced with my own professional development fall into this magical week.

Seven days ripe with potential.
I will plan excursions that are both educational and entertaining.
I will make meals from scratch with ingredients that I've purchased at the Farmer's Market.
I will French braid my daughter's hair every day.
I will pack picnics for the beach.
I will start an exercise plan.
I will clean the shed.
I will reconnect with my husband.
I will be both patient and inspiring.

But first I will eat an entire box of popsicles and watch six straight hours of Law and Order.

Monday, July 2, 2007

You might be a Beta Mom if....

you've ever left an IOU from the tooth fairy under your child's pillow.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Oreos for breakfast

In a recent comment, one of my favorite Beta moms, Robin, mentioned that Oreos are the current breakfast of champions in her house. Now, not only do I approve, but I applaud her for her attempts to provide her children with a nutritionally balanced breakfast. This brings me to a little game I like to call "Find the Food Groups". Let's use Oreos as our example:

Grains - Well, this is obvious. The two cookies that comprise the Oreo "sandwich" provide a stable base for our pyramid of health. (Nutritional tip - the darker the grain, the healthier the bread; I'm sure the same applies to cookies.)

Dairy - Hello? "creme filling"? (Remember, correct spelling is optional. This is also true for anything refered to as "froot".)

Meats/Protein - Since dairy can be a good source of protein, I think we'll use our good friend "creme filling" again. To make sure you're getting adequate nutrients, better to get the Double Stuff Oreos.

Fruit - I'm having a harder time finding the fruit in an Oreo, but the truth is I have a friend who's a nutritionist, and she says that too much fruit is not good for you because of the sugar content, so it's probably better that there's no fruit.

Fat - Considering all of the wholesome goodness we've discovered in our Oreos, I think a little bit of fat is okay.

See how it works? Play along at home!