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2/21/12
Phineas and Ferb, Part Deux

I know I just posted about us being addicted to Phineas and Ferb (the cartoon on Disney), but at the risk of sounding REALLY geeky, I'm going to post about it again. I promise I'm not as weird as this makes me sound.

See, shortly after the first Phineas and Ferb post, the official Disney Phineas and Ferb Live show came to the Knoxville Coliseum, and my work had some free tickets, so I said sure! That'll be fun! (Plus, you know, bonus points for being such an awesome Mom, right?) So on Saturday afternoon, Tony, ZB and I headed out to discover exactly how you turn an animated cartoon into a live show. (Answer: costumes. Which I suppose makes sense, but I was really disappointed that they didn't teach a real platypus to wear a fedora and do round-house fighting kicks).

I dunno. It was weird. This is the first time that I've ever been to a show specifically for kids, and it was slightly unnerving seeing them EVERYWHERE. I mean, they had the adults outnumbered probably 4 to 1. It was just rows and rows of keyed-up, sugar-fueled, running, screaming, jumping children...a riot mob all under three feet tall. AND there were cotton-candy hawkers every two feet, which is just tossing spun sugar fuel on the munchkin land fire. As soon as we walked in, Tony leaned over and whispered, "I don't know how wild these things get, but if the natives get out of control, head to that security guard over there. He's got a billy club at we can beat them back with while we make our escape".

The scary part was I don't think he was entirely joking.

But I gotta give Disney credit; they really know how to work the crowd to get the kids excited but not too excited. Cheering, yes. Widespread looting and tipping over cars, no. (Of course, they also made sure that each child walked through a maze of vendors before getting to their seats, so it's also possible that the kids were bought off by the various t-shirts, hats, pendents, stuffed plush dolls, light-up doodads and commemorative platypus cups. It's hard to riot when carrying all that overpriced loot).

The show itself was very cute. Lots of singing and dancing and acrobatics. Lots of flashing lights, t-shirt guns, confetti cannons, fog machines and elaborate set pieces. (In short, everything a 12 and under would love to spend an hour and a half looking at). Zb stood on Tony's knees and danced though all of it. She couldn't follow the plot, of course, but she really loved the singing and dancing.

It did take me a while to get used to the "live" characters though. For some reason, I am really uncomfortable with people in costumes with giant heads, (i.e. mascots, roaming Disney characters, and the Easter bunny-which I will still go out of my way to avoid whenever I'm at the mall, by the way) and some of the characters had really trippy eyes that will probably pop up again in my nightmares, but none of the kids seemed to mind, so maybe it's just me.

But all in all, lots of fun. ZB liked it, it was entertaining enough that it wasn't torture for parents to sit through, and I may or may not be the proud new owner of a Perry the Platypus t-shirt.

Plus I figure that knowing all the words to the theme show will allow me some leniency if the sugar high ever wears off and the munchkin mobs take over.

2/13/12
Feeling the Love

So I made the huge tactical error tonight of stopping by walmart to buy some some necesseties (read: diapers) on Valentine's Day Eve, and the place was a MAD HOUSE with all the kids racing around the card section, trying to decide if Spongebob or X-men better described how they felt about their fellow classmates.

(I don't know about you, but I find it kind of funny that kids seem to take Valentine's Day waaaay more seriously than adults. I mean, here we have a holiday specifically designed for romance, but the ones that are freaking out about it are all the seven-year-olds. Why is that?)

Anyway, Walmart looked like a red and pink war had broken out. Boxes of assorted cards lay littered across the aisles; casualties of finicky grade-schoolers searching for the perfect level of friendly versus coolness. Heart-shaped candies were trampled by the wayside. Assorted chocolates, small plush bears and those bizarre rose-in-a-balloon deals (because nothing says romance like not being able to actually smell your rose?) were being escorted out of the melee as prisoners of war.

Not that I can really blame them. It doesn't make sense to me now, but I can certainly remember being that age and sitting at the kitchen table the night before the class party, painstakingly assigning cards to my fellow classmates in deference to the cut-throat second grade hierarchy. It wasn't that easy either. In a box of 24 cards, there were only 4 designs to choose from. That meant that I only had 7 of the best ones to divide out between best friends, cool kids, and any boys I happened to like at the time. Acquaintances were second tier, then those kids that you never interacted with because their last name started with W and therefore sat on the opposite side of the room, then (because class rules required that everyone be given a card) the kid who ate glue and the one who blew spit bubbles during lunch.

You can see the problem.

Did Eric Watson (pro: could draw really well. Con: Sat about as far away as possible) deserve a Snoopy and Woodstock "You're Neat!" card or the lower, less cool Linus and Sally "I think you're swell!" card? And if you bumped Eric up to Snoopy, that meant that you had to demote the shy girl who transferred into the class last month to a Peppermint Patty "Hi Pal!". And no matter who you gave the Charlie Brown's to, as soon as they realized that they were on the same social rung as the glue eater, there was going to be hell to pay.

It was a logistical nightmare.

And that was just cards. Depending on the party planned and the rules of the teacher involved, there was also the possibility of having to navigate candy. Small pieces of foil-wrapped chocolate, it goes without saying, were the best and could ratchet you up into the coolness stratosphere if you could talk your parents into buying it (I never could). Next came red heart-shaped suckers, and then towards the bottom were those boxes of chalky candy hearts that break your teeth and taste like Rolaids (actually, those weren't bad. At least they had fun sayings on them. It was the tasteless generic knock-off candy hearts that my Dad tried to pass off as the same thing one year that could really take you down a peg on the old popularity meter. It was actually better to show up empty-handed and pretend to be diabetic than to bring those to school).

Still, it wasn't all politics. Someone's Mom always brought cupcakes with red sprinkles, and there were cookies with pink icing on them, and red kool-aid, so we were pretty much guaranteed to be in the euphoric chaos of a sugar high as we raced around handing out our cards to each other. (How the teacher wasn't insane by the end of the day, I will never know).

And it wasn't like we were immune to the prick of Cupid's arrows either. One year I got the bright idea to give two cards to the boy I liked...one with my name on it, and then another as a secret admirer! Oh the cunning! I was just sure that he'd spend days in thoughtful contemplation, trying to figure out who liked him. And yet I'd still have plausible deniability because obviously I had already given him the card with my name clearly on it! (How this was supposed to make him fall madly in love with me while having no idea that I was the one who sent it I'm not quite sure. All I can say is it made sense at the time.) And no doubt the plan would have worked beautifully too had nosy Erin Spangler not happened to see the anonomous card and take it upon herself to try to figure out who had sent it! It wasn't her mystery to solve! It was his! And anyway, she was much too smart for her own good, because she quickly realized that the mystery card was of the Punky Brewster variety, and my signed card was Punky Brewster, so therefore they had to had come from the same pack! She was smug, I was annoyed, and the boy (I wish I could remember his name!) only really cared about seeing if he could find someone to trade his pink cookie for another cupcake.

(Oh the trials and tribulations of seven-year-old love).

Luckily things are easier now. Having been married for almost nine years now, my Valentine and I have worked out a routine. He gets me chocolate, I get him Twinkies, and we go out for Japanese food. Done and done. No confusing Snoopy hierarchy, no busting a filling on a chalk rock masquarading as candy, no nosy Erin Spangler messing up my love groove. Just me and my honey, being together and ignoring the rest of the frippery. Maybe that's why adults don't stress Valentine's as much as kids do. Once you've gotten some practice at it, then it becomes less about the trappings and more about the other person.

Well, the other person and a Punky Brewster Valentine's Day card. Because if you still need help this Valentine's Day, you can't go wrong with Punky.




2/7/12
Pig-Skin Party Pointers

Oh my goodness, Internets. I am so stuffed. For the past two days, I have been scarfing down plate after plate of Super bowl party leftovers, and I'm not sure that I can stand it anymore.

See historically, Tony and I, being the anti-social introverted people that we are, usually watch the Super Bowl game commercials by ourselves. But this year I was in the mood for sausage cheese balls, (which I have not had in sweet forever because who makes sausage cheese balls for themselves? That's just weird) so I said, "Hey! Let's invite some of our friends and co-workers over to watch the game and eat tiny sized food with toothpicks!" And Tony said, "Eh." And I said, "I can make sausage cheese balls!" And he was like, "Hmmm." And I was like, "And loaded potato skins!" And he was like, "Maybe". And I was like, "And that hot swiss and bacon dip that you like so much!" And he was like, "Sold!"

So we had a party, but just a small one mind you, because we're still anti-social. We're just also motivated to share finger foods. But apparently we're also a little rusty on this whole party-planning thing, because we invited these people over and them proceeded to serve them this: We had sausage cheese balls, potato skins with bacon, hot bacon cheese dip, and pepperoni pizza).

Are you sensing a common theme here? (Aside from the fact that all these foods will clog your arteries and give you a heart attack by just thinking about them, I mean). Anything seem a little odd to you? Apparently while planning the menu, I was craving a little piggy. I didn't realize it until after I started making everything, but it all contains cheese and pig meat. You'd think I was heavily invested in pork futures or something.

Anyway, I'm not sure if the limited menu meant our guests were overwhelmed with the sheer about of pig potential, or if I was just in the spirit of "pigging out" and made too much, but there was a lot of food left over. A lot. The fridge was crammed full. So that's what Tony and I have been eating for the last two days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because never let it be said that I would let even a single sausage ball go to waste.

The first day was pretty good. Who doesn't like pepperoni and sausage and bacon? You could even say we were "in hog heaven". (Sorry). But by day two, we weren't feeling that high on the hog anymore (really sorry), and by the third day, we were definitely crying "OINKle!" (Really REALLY sorry!)

If it is true that you are what you eat, I fear that I may actually be turning into Ms. Piggy (either that or a giant water balloon, because let me tell you that nothing makes you retain water like a four course meal of salted pig meat). But the good news is that there's an easy enough fix for that. First, quit eating so many sausage cheese balls. Second, drink plenty of water to help flush out the salt, and third, (are you ready for this?)... go wee wee wee all the way home.


2/3/12
Hey, Where's Perry? (You Can Bet I Know!)

I'm going to admit something now that's going to sound completely crazy to people without young kids: I'm addicted to a children's cartoon.

I didn't mean to be. See, ZB likes to get up freakishly early in the morning. Freakishly early. And I do not. Which means that she has me at a disadvantage when it comes to coming up with pre-sunrise activities to keep her entertained. (I know, I know, you aren't supposed to use the tv as a babysitter, and babies her age can't process the rapid camera changes, and she will be forever mentally stunted if she so much as glances at a tv screen, but you gotta cut me some slack here! Did you read the part about it being FREAKISHLY EARLY? And there comes a point where you will gladly trade 2 or 3 future S.A.T. points if you can just distract her with the singing and dancing shapes on a screen for 5 minutes, just 5 teeny minutes so that you can slump down on the couch without worrying about her digging all of the dirt out of the potted plants or dropping cheerios down the heating vents.

So I turned on the TV.

And she didn't care one whit about the singing and dancing shapes, but I was instantly hooked.

See, the Disney channel has this cartoon called Phineas and Ferb, and it's incredibly well-written, with fabulous one liners, and an evil scientist character that seems to monologue in the same bizarre stream-of-consciousness that I do in my head all day. (Is it bad that I identify with a cartoon character as a kindred spirit? How about the fact that he's supposed to be the bad guy? At what point would a therapist start putting giant red exclamation-points in my file?)

Anyway, Phineas and Ferb are these two brothers who spend each day of their summer vacation building incredible inventions like giant submarines or space ships or robotic bulls for a rodeo. And the boys have an older sister named Candace, and she's always trying to bust the boys over these ridiculous inventions and get them in trouble with their Mom. Oh, and they have a pet platypus that is also a secret agent who battles the aforementioned evil scientist who ALSO builds ridiculous inventions in his never-ending quest to take over the TRI! STATE! AREA!

(Hmmm. When you write it out like that, it sounds kinda silly. But it isn't, I swear!)

I normally have low tolerances for kid's shows. Too many of them have kids that are bratty and disrespectful to the adults in the show, or they stereotype everyone, or they're just crazy violent, and I think that's a bad thing to introduce to your kids. But I've been impressed with Phineas and Ferb. They value imagination and ingenuity, and even though their Mom never catches them doing whatever they are doing, it isn't because she's stupid or because they're trying to be sneaky. (It's usually because a helicopter accidentally snagged it and carried it off, or aliens beamed it up, or Dr. Doofensmirtz's invisibility machine hit it right before Candace could drag Mom out to see it...you know, totally plausible situations).

So now I watch Phineas and Ferb. In fact, it has become my favorite show to watch on television. And I don't just watch it, I DVR it. But up until now, it's been my guilty little secret. If Tony came home and caught me with it on, I'd pretend that ZB wanted to watch it. (For the record, she could care less, although sometimes she will dance to the songs they sing). If someone called on the phone during a show, I'd mute it so they couldn't hear it. If there was a Phineas and Ferb marathon on that day, we found excuses not to leave the house. And it probably would have continued this way forever, except that something happened:

Unbeknownst to me, Tony got hooked on them too.

He found them on the DVR where I was studiously recording them "for ZB", and one morning when it was his turn to get up freakishly early with her, he turned it on. And the rest, as they say, was history. (Which Phineas and Ferb totally visited in that one episode when they built the time machine and went back to the age of the dinosaurs! But I digress).

Now we watch Phineas and Ferb together. (Except for today when he was totally bummed because he had to go to work and missed Phineas and Ferb the movie. When he suggested we netflix it so that he could see it, I knew we had fallen through the rabbit hole).

So yeah. I watch a kiddie cartoon. And I know all the words to the theme song. And I've caught myself saying "Whatcha' doin'?" just like one of the characters. And I want to be Perry the Platypus when I grow up. But it's all good. I am not alone. If nothing else, it's given me and Tony something new to talk about.

And when the kid finally gets old enough to enjoy it, we may even let her watch our cartoons with us.

2/2/12
Hello? Is This Thing On?

So yeah. You may have noticed that I've been gone for a while. I didn't really mean to be gone that long, but this happened:


And then just as I was getting used to that, THIS happened: video

And suddenly ZB went from a nice little pose-able action figure baby that I could just prop up on a pillow and have her chill while I typed to this little racing hurricane of cuteness and destruction that was into EVERYTHING.

Amazing how quickly that happens.

So just to get you up to speed, she's 10 months old now, (amazing how quickly that happened!) and we're walking and babbling and clapping and dancing and chasing the cats. (Speaking of the cats, they have mixed feelings about her. Dixon, Magellan and Sebastian run from her, Bella wants to play with her, and Mason just holds his ground and endures her "pats" with this long-suffering look that says, "Are you seeing this? I hope you appreciate how I'm just sitting here and letting her do this to me.")

Anyway, that's what I've been up to. And with her mobile, I've really got to keep an eye on her now, because between that and the whole growing teeth deal, everything that isn't nailed down goes into her mouth. "What is that? How did you get that? I just nailed that down! No! Don't put that in your mouth! Yucky! YUCKY!

(Side note: It's amazing how your vocabulary changes when you become a parent. A year ago I never said yucky. Now, yucky is my new go-to word. I must say it about 500 times a day. My baby book says that instead of just saying the word no, babies will learn better when you tell them why they shouldn't do something. So I say yucky and ouchie and danger a lot. But mostly yucky. Apparently to babies, the world is their all-you-can-eat buffet, and so far I haven't been all that successful in convincing her that that isn't prime rib and caviar on the bottom of Daddy's shoe.)

Still, despite all the racing and chasing and saying yucky, I cannot express to you how awesome she is, and how much I completely adore her. Getting to experience the world through her eyes is the rarest gift, and when she stops playing to run over and hug my leg and grin up at me, my heart melts. And to be totally, brutally honest, writing on a blog doesn't hold a candle to that kind of feeling. (Not that I don't enjoy talking to you guys, but c'mon, can you tell me that you'd rather stare at a computer screen than play with this?)




But I did miss you, and I'm sorry that it's been so long. I'm hoping that now that ZB's getting old enough to play for 3o whole seconds by herself, I'll be able to get a post in every now and then. Maybe not as often as before, and maybe not as interesting since the baby is 99.99% of my world, but I promise to try. And I totally get it if my radio silence has hurt you forever and you've moved on completely, but if you haven't, I hope you'll come back and share this with me.

It's good to be back, Internets.