Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Silly Questions Kids Ask: Halloween Edition

As part of getting ready for bed, Emmie took her clothes to the laundry room (or, the laundry coffin, as I like to think of it, because every time I walk in there, I feel like I've been buried alive). She came back with a worried expression.

"What's up, Little Gaga?"

"Um, why ders a ghost in da laundry room, and wuss he doeend in der?"


"Ders a ghost in da laundry room. Wuss he doeend?"

"There's no ghost in the laundry room, sweetie. I think you're still freaked out by the spooky stuff at the Halloween store."

She nodded, eyes wide. "Da zombies dat crawled were da coolest - but also da skeeriest!"

"But we know they're not real."

"No, dey're jus' stories dat we tell."


"But, mama? Why do we tell dem?"

"Because they're fun to hear. Aren't they exciting?"

"Yeah! But... sometimes dey skeer me."

"Well, then we won't tell them when you feel scared."

"Danks, mama."

"Okay. Time for bed."

"But what about da ghost in da laundry room?"

"Honey, there's no ghost in the laundry room."

"But I saw'd it!"

"Okay, I'll lie down with you until you fall asleep."

"Danks, mom. You da best mama in da world."

"You're the best Doodle in the world."

After she was asleep, I puttered around the house doing small chores, and stopped to throw some clothes in the laundry basket. That's when I saw it:

LOL! There was a ghost! 

Scott draped over the vacuum cleaner, for reasons I may never know. What I love is - well, first, I was wrong and Emmie was right, and that always assures me that the natural order of thing is still as topsy-turvy as the day we brought her home. But I also love that she didn't scream or cry or freak out. Even though it startled her, she asked why the ghost was there. To which I would respond now, "Because Hell has frozen over and the souls are all escaping; that's the only time we get a significant amount of laundry done around here. Maybe the ghost will help."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Because she's smarter than we are

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 By

Emmie has developed a new thing about eating. She wants to take a few bites and then put the food in the fridge "for later." She really just doesn't want to eat very much. Scott and I are of differing minds about this. He wants her to eat. I say she'll eat when she's hungry - and in the meantime, we'll supplement with a multi-vitamin.

Last night, he cooked a lovely dinner. And because I was late getting home, I missed a classic exchange. Emmie ate a little and then said she was full.

"No, eat your food," Scott said.

"But... I'm all fuuuulll!" she whined.

"Come on, you only had a few bites."

"Das all I wanned," she said.

"Emmie, eat your dinner."

"But Mom lets me put it in da fridge for later," she said.

"Emmie!" he was getting exasperated - and no doubt; she will argue with the furniture. "Just eat! There are starving children in China!"

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Ders not starving children in China! Dey have rice, an' Chinese food, an' Chinese bread!"

And at that, she flounced off, leaving Scott's jaw to pick itself up off the floor.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I can haz intellijunce?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 By

I fumbled around this morning, panicked and blind, for a good 10 minutes. One of the rare side effects of the medication I was taking is temporary loss of vision.

But when I got to the bathroom and flipped on the light, the problem was solved. Because I looked in the mirror and realized that these are NOT my glasses. Doh!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where's the video that shows how my marbles disappear?

Monday, October 25, 2010 By

Emmie and I look up videos online whenever she has questions about something and I can't explain it very well. Like while I was in the hospital, and tried to explain to her what was going on with my body, I finally had to resort to looking up photos of spinal taps and MRIs online - but not videos. First, I don't want her to mimic them while "playing doctor," and second, I am showing her these things to make her feel better, not to freak her out more.

So she's gotten into the habit of asking for them when she has a question. Of course, sometimes I have questions about her questions...

"Mom, can we look for a biddeo on grabbiddy? I wanna know if iss a big ibbissible hand dat grabs you so you don't fly off da erff."

"Um... do you mean 'gravity?'"


And she's really into videos about how the body functions, but I have to be careful about the search terms I use. Not all videos are PG. Yeesh.

"Mama? Can we look up how da heart mates da blood go froo da body?"


"An' den can we go to da dahtor so I can lithen to my heart beep?"

"You mean 'beat?'"

"Das wut I said, 'beep!'"

She also likes to look at animals and pranks. But today she wanted something more mundane. She asked a question without answer.

"Mama? Can we watch a biddeo on how da shoelaces come untied when I'm not looking? Cause ebbrytime I tie dem, later, I look down, and dey come untied!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Metro's Best Whiners

Saturday, October 23, 2010 By

I heard a lot of griping on Facebook about who was named Metro's Best this year - mostly from people masquerading as interested third parties, but who had ties to people with "dogs in the fight," so to speak. Workers for companies who lost, freelancers and friends of the owners of "competing" local media, that kind of thing. In other words, welcome to middle school.

Despite their obvious sour grapes, I agreed with some of their complaints. For example, I don't really see why Metro's Best New Local Restaurant has to be Cheddar's, when there are so many other new local restaurants. Shishkabob on North Belair Road, Frog Hollow and The Place on Broad Street, Rooster's Beak on 10th Street... that's all I can think of right now. I can't tell you why Cheddar's shouldn't have won, because I've never eaten there; ditto the category's second runner-up, Carolina Ale House. Generally speaking, Scott and I like the atmosphere at locally owned restaurants - not to mention the food.

There were other categories where I didn't agree with the winners chosen, but that happens every year. When I worked at the Spirit, we heard it from readers and advertisers when Outback was voted best steak, for example. We heard it from elected officials every time Austin Rhodes was nominated for anything. If it was a local place that won a category, we were "too trendy." If it was a chain, we were "bull$#!t sellouts."

I guess it was harder for people to call themselves bull$#!t sellouts. Because the votes were what counted. Three times as many people vote in the Metro's Best awards every year as in any other "best of" attempt in the CSRA. That's not propaganda. That's just the numbers. And those people who vote chose those places to win.


Well, that's a good question. First of all, it was a write-in ballot this year. That means that one thing mattered more than anything else: top of mind awareness. If people couldn't pull your business's name out of their brains within a few seconds, they weren't going to type it in. For example, there's a new steakhouse on Broad St. Don't ask me the name of it. I have no idea. And I bet no one voted for them.

That, my friends, is an Epic Marketing FAIL.

If no one knows who you are, how can you spread the "word of mouth" marketing that everyone around here loves to praise? "It's the best kind there is!" they say. Well, yes. And by that, they usually mean it's free. But, no matter what you mean, how are you going to get it? By not having people walk in your door? Well, you're doing just great. See you in the unemployment line next year.

One business representative crowed that their business didn't advertise so that it wouldn't attract the kind of people who would vote for Cheddars. Here's a hint: That business didn't win anything in Metro's Best. It's a great place, so why didn't it win? It certainly couldn't be the business representative's pretentious attitude, so please see the explanation above. In short, "the kind of people who would vote for Cheddars" could be giving you their money. But they're not.

I'm not saying that you should advertise - although you can't do worse than the empty tables staring you in the wallet every night. And advertising works, when you know how to hit your target demographics (creativity, get the numbers, and don't be ashamed to use an agency if you can't do it yourself). I'm saying you should market. And "word of mouth" marketing will only work when you have something buzzworthy for people to talk about. So what's buzzworthy about your business? Can you think of something exciting that you're doing?

I can't.

I'll tell you what Cheddar's is doing - besides choosing a high-traffic location with parking. Cheddar's is offering what mom-and-pop diners used to offer: quick, friendly service with hearty meals at a reasonable price - at least, that's the buzz I'm hearing - and it's close to shopping and the movie theater. So, really, Cheddar's is about convenience, affordability - and it's new! "Dey got one in Columbia, so dat means we're a big city now! Urhurh!"

I'll tell you what would be buzzworthy about a restaurant in this market: X restaurant is offering a full menu of healthy options - beyond salads and sandwiches - with a calorie count beside each item. Or Y eatery is now serving a pan-Asian noodle/rice bowl selection at a cozy corner shop with inside, outside and counter seating. Or Z restaurant is now serving a doughnut burger. (Have you heard about these things?! I want one. Unfortunately, X restaurant says it has 1 bazillion calories.)

New, different and - in this market - affordable: That's what will get your precious "word of mouth" marketing going. But don't skimp on the service. That's important, too.

And as for Metro's Best? I guess you can blame the newspaper for who won, what with them actually counting the votes, and all. You can listen to moles and sketchy salespeople who say that makes them "disloyal" to downtown (only one part of their readership) or that it means they've sold out. Whatever makes you feel better about yourself. But the real people you should blame is your customers because they gave their votes to someone else.

Ask yourself why they did.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Overheard in the Store: Remember this when she's 21, mom...

Thursday, October 21, 2010 By

An adorable little girl, about four years old, holds up a green plastic margarita glass in a clearance bin and yells: "Mama! I really want this cup!"

Her mother is checking out, but glances over. "Looks like it will tip over, sweetie."

The girl looks at the cup and then back at her mother: "But it's just like yours!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Awesome soup

Monday, October 18, 2010 By No comments

This soup takes less than 30 minutes to make, and is low fat, low carb, low calorie - but high flavor!

Greek chicken soup

4 chicken breasts, whole
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 cup instant rice, uncooked
Olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
Bunch baby spinach, coarsely torn
Lemon juice, about 1/4 cup

In stock pot, cook chopped onion until translucent. Add chicken, broth, rice, oregano and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered, for 5-8 minutes, until chicken is done.

With tongs, remove chicken and shred or coarsely chop. Set aside. Pour broth into food processor or blender (might have to work in two batches). Pulse until smooth and creamy.

Pour chicken and broth back into pot. Return to heat, and add spinach. Add lemon juice to taste. Cook until spinach is just wilted, serve immediately.

* Substitutions - can use any cut of chicken you like; try swiss chard, kale, or other winter green in place of spinach; consider white wine or sherry in place of lemon juice.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Job Security Not Improved by Family Relations

Sunday, October 17, 2010 By

"Mom?" Em asked after Kelli spent a particularly long time annoying her. "Can you fire Aunt Kelli?"

"Oh, yes. Kelli, you're fired."

"Yeah, Aunt Kelli. Don' cry to death."

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hooked on Phonics, Part II

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 By

We're working on homework, and Emmie is identifying photos of words that begin with the same sound as "cat."

"Car!" she cries, excited to find her first one.

"Very good," I say. "Now find all the ones that start with the same sound and color them in, and put an 'x' over the ones that don't start with the same sound."

"Okay," she says. "Panda.... no."

She puts an x.

"Corn - yes!"

She colors it in.

"Socks - no."

She puts an x, and moves on to a crappy mimeograph of a computer.

"Hmm. Peeyooter, no."

She puts an x.

(sigh) I really have to discourage the baby talk.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Birthday Can Suck it

Sunday, October 10, 2010 By

The month of October used to be my favorite month. The weather is awesome. Baseball playoffs. Oktoberfest and camping in Helen. Halloween. But lately, I've been thinking I should choose a new favorite month.
  • Two years ago, my husband was released from University Hospital on Oct. 9 after a month-long battle with TTP.
  • One year ago, my daughter was attacked on Oct. 9 by our neighbor's idiot pit bull, but treated at the awesome MCG Children's Medical Center.
  • This year, I spent five days in the hospital at MCG with a severe migraine and unexplained swelling of my brain, then bedridden with a "spinal headache" as the result of a lumbar puncture, before being released on Oct. 9.
Did I mention that my birthday is today, Oct. 10?

I'm not sure if these events have been gifts - after all, everyone has been healthy again by Oct. 10 - or warnings. But I'm going to move my birthday to a new date. I will be taking suggestions. But my mother will have final say. It's only fair.

And next year, Scott, Emerson, and I will be out of town during the week leading up to my former birthday. But we'll remain in the U.S., Canada, or Western Europe. Because it seems we should be somewhere with access to excellent health care.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Keyword search and rescue

Friday, October 08, 2010 By

I don't think I want to know what it says about me that the second most searched-for term - behind momnesia - for which people look when they come across my blog is "dog braces."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dance of Awesome = World Peace

Wednesday, October 06, 2010 By

My daughter is - like me - easily distractable. So the only way I have found that I can get her bootie dressed and ready for school on time in the mornings is... to race her. This has given rise to Many Insane Hair Days for me.

This morning, she was being unusually mouthy.

"MOOOMM!!" she shrieked, just a millisecond away from tears. "I can't get my SHOES on! An den I gon' be slow, and den you gon' WIN! An den I beed da LOSER!"

I lift my head from where I am blow-drying my hair upside-down in the vain, futile hope that I might trick it into not sucking today. She has on her shirt - backwards - and her jeans. But the shoes are a problem.

"Oh, reeaaaally?" I mimic a scheming villain. "Soooo, you want me to HELP you, so that I will LOSE? Hmmmm..."

She grins, continues to struggle with the shoes. I finish drying my hair, flip my head back, get dizzy and almost fall back into the shower.

She laughs hysterically.

"Oh, is that funny?" I grab the cardboard box of tissues and bonk myself repeatedly in the head. "How about that?"

She collapses on the floor, belly laughing. "Mama! Stop!"

"I'm not really hurting myself."

"No, you smasheend da box."

Thanks. Concern duly noted. I brush my hair while she straightens her shirt, then she looks down at her feet. Crud. She gives a big, limp-armed shoulder twitch and starts in again. "Mamaaaaaaa...! If you don' help me, I can't get my shoes on!"

I'm wriggling into my tights, and I only have two hands. Plus, the screeching is really starting to get on my nerves: "Seriously, Doodle, I'm going to smash myself in the head with the tissue box again, just because it's more fun than listening to you whine."

She glares at me.

"Will you chill out? Have I ever let you leave the house without shoes?"


"That's not going to change this morning. Give me a sec and then I'll help you."

She relaxes, obviously relieved. "Danks, mama. But... mama, if you don' help me, I'm not goeen ta win."

"Mwahahahaha!" I laugh, evilly. "You have uncovered my plan!"

She stops keening and gives me A Look: "It dudden't madder, mama. Eben if you win, you still goeend be a loser."

Oh, snap.

"That's okay. Even if I lose, I'm still going to have all the awesome. See me? Repository of awesomeness. Right here. Check it out." I do a little dance. It is the awesome dance. El Baile de Awesome. Or so I tell myself.

She resists for a moment, but then begins to giggle and joins me. We dance the Dance of Awesome until we are breathless from laughing. And now running late. Dangit.

"Come on, Little Gaga. Let's get your shoes on and your hair combed."

"Okay, mama. But mama?"


"When I growed up, I wanna be awesome jus' like you."

 "Baby, you already are."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Overheard in the newsroom

Tuesday, October 05, 2010 By

Editor to staffer: "That's the fourth obit you've sent me today. Are you on a murderous rampage?"

Monday, October 04, 2010

Oh, for a tonal language like Mandarin...

Monday, October 04, 2010 By

Emmie and I are playing "school." She has devised a brutal test of how well I understand my numbers. I think I'm rocking it, until we get to end.

"Das good, mama!" she puts a check beside every answer.

"Yeah, I got kindergarten down," I reply, flexing my (imaginary) biceps.

"No," she shakes her head with a serious expression.




"We hafta do more."

"More what?"

"More testes."

(choke. sputter.)

"More what?!"

"Testes," she answers.


"Dis!" she points to her chalkboard. "Dis fing we jus' do! Iss a test! But we hafta do more testes, mama."

"Oh, okay. What are you testing for?"

"You brain. How much do it know about numbers."

"Well, not much. But I can tell you about some vocabulary we should probably discuss."

Friday, October 01, 2010

Party of Ten, Please

Friday, October 01, 2010 By

"What did he say about the car?" A.R. asked me after I hung up the phone.

"That wasn't a conversation about our car repairs. That was a conversation about our marriage," I laughed.

And it kind of was. All of the unspoken things that went into the conversation - which, on the surface, were about struts, strut mounts, and CV joints - were about our relationship. For her, it must have been like watching a Bertrand Blier film without subtitles.

(Update: Alice Wynn tells me that the Bertrand Blier reference was pretentious as hell. I argue that it's not. We cannot agree. So in place of Bertrand Blier, you can imagine any director who concentrates on male-female relationships. We couldn't think of anyone except Woody Allen. but he doesn't count, because all Woody Allen films are really about Woody Allen. Except now I remember Pedro Almodovar. Is that still a pretentious reference, Alice? Is Blier pretentious because he's French, or because he's European?)

Lots of things in life are an unspoken negotiation. But negotiations in relationships are entirely different - because some kind of conflict is inevitable due to the fact that so much of what occurs is actually inside the minds and hearts of the people involved.

One might say, "Dishes are done," just to let one's partner know that task has been checked off the list. One's partner might hear "I did the dishes because you wouldn't," or "I did the dishes, now you do the laundry." Another partner might hear, "Dishes are done," and think "Big deal; I cut the grass." Those statements might not be part of the spoken conversation, but they're still present within the negotiations.

In this conversation, while I desired one course of action to ensure things were done correctly, he desired another course of action to avoid conflict, increase overall efficiency and save money. Both courses of action had benefits. But he was more aggravated by the situation than I expected. So, as a compromise, I asked for a separate, smaller, additional action, to which he agreed. Negotiations complete.

But what he was thinking? I may never know. It may have been, "What does she know about car repairs?!" It may have been, "Please do not make me deal with these people again." It might have been, "I don't give a flying crap about the car. I'd rather just buy a new one." Speculation does no good because even if I know the thoughts, the inflection, intention and accompanying imagery can never be known. Neither does he know what went on in my mind while we talked about it - nor should he.

Ah, relationships. You think it's a dialogue. But it's an ensemble cast.