Sunday, October 28, 2007

Searching for Mr. Pickles

This is Mr. Pickles.

This is Mr. Pickles's brother, Mr. Pickles.

This is Mr. Pickles, and Mr. Pickles's brother, Mr. Pickles.

Mr. Pickles entered my life on Easter, 1998. My mother had placed a few of these tiny yellow chickens in the Easter lily, and, because I kept talking about how adorable they were, she sent one of them back to college with me. At the time, I was sharing a house with four of my friends. Somehow, a game evolved in which one of us would hide the chicken somewhere unexpected, say a cereal box, and let the owner of said cereal box discover the chicken later. Sometimes, it would be several days before the unsuspecting owner of the cereal box would find the chicken - maybe she had bagels for breakfast instead - but it was absolutely crucial to avoid any and all questions about the chicken, even seemingly innocent questions such as, "So... have you had any cereal lately? Don't you want to have some now?" The Chicken Game relied on the element of surprise.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What a stupid game." But see, you're only thinking that because you've never experienced the joys of finding a small yellow chicken peeking up out of your cereal, or hiding in the medicine chest, or secreted away in your coat pocket. The Chicken Game is awesome.

I brought The Chicken Game with me to grad school and played it with my roommate during my first year. Then, once I joined the lab, I started playing it with my lab mates. That's when Mr. Pickles earned his name. By that point, my mother - a big fan of The Chicken Game - had given me lots of new chickens, and I had two of them on my shelf in the lab. "They need names," said The Doktah, (of course it was The Doktah) and she came up with "Mr. Pickles," for the simple reason that "pickles" is an inherently funny word. Pickles pickles pickles. See? As for Mr. Pickles's brother, Mr. Pickles, I outright stole his name from the Sesame Street characters "Mr. Noodle and Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle" because that is comic genius, my friends. Comic genius.

So. Now you know who Mr. Pickles is. And every Easter, I stock up on packages of Mr. Pickleses so that I can continue to play The Chicken Game with my friends and family. Currently, there are two wine glasses full of Mr. Pickleses in my china hutch*. As long as I have extra Mr. Pickleses, I am free to leave Mr. Pickleses here and there as I go through life, in places like a friend's bathroom, or Muffet Niece's pillow. With a stockpile of Mr. Pickleses, I can also mail a Mr. Pickles to one of my college housemates or to The Doktah, if the mood strikes me.

If you're lucky, maybe I'll mail one to you.

*Where do you suggest I keep them?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One year

A lot can happen in a year. Heck, a lot can happen in six months, as evidenced by my experiences from July to December, 2003, when I had my appendix out, got evicted, moved twice, wrote my thesis, got married, moved again, and defended my thesis to earn my Ph.D.

But the events of 2003 do not hold a candle to what has happened to our family since October 24, 2006, because that was the day Jack joined me and The Husband here on the outside. It's almost impossible to understand that the toddler currently doing laps around the dining room table is the same being that lay his little head down on my chest that October night. He wasn't crying, he was just gazing up at me with his huge blue eyes as if to say, "Hi. Who are you? I'm hungry." And life hasn't been the same since.

So happy birthday, Jack. You're going to love cake.

Jack: Year One from Maureen on Vimeo.

Music: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Idea for video: Stolen from Amalah

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We interrupt this broadcast for a Muppet News Flash

I have two items of fantastic news. First, Desitin does, in fact, come out. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief there. Of course, if this bizarre 75-80 degree October weather keeps up, the fact that I have only 3 long-sleeved shirts will not matter.

Second, and, I'm sure we will all agree, no less important, The Doktah has given birth to a beautiful, if slim, baby girl! She's 6 pounds something and 20 inches long! (The baby, not The Doktah.) Everyone is doing as well as can be expected, which is to say that The Doktah sounded a bit weepy on the phone. But all reports agree that the baby is adorable.

The bad news here is that the Moby wrap I bought for The Doktah as a baby gift is currently sitting on my dining room table. But, in my defense, the baby is one week early.

Yes, I'll be mailing it toute suite.

Congratulations, The Doktah and Mr. The Doktah!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And we've moved this box at least twice.

The Husband was looking for a ruler, any ruler, any one of our several rulers, but they have apparently all disappeared into the ether. Maybe they've slipped through a wormhole and are living on a planet in a dimension uniquely suited to the ruler lifestyle, somewhere near the Byro planet.

At any rate, I tried to help him and decided to look in the cabinet of the desk. The cabinet which I had completely forgotten existed. An although I found no rulers, I found all kinds of interesting stuff. What was it? Well, I'm glad you asked!

1. Our film camera. That's where that is!
2. About fifty 3.5 inch floppy disks. Clearly these contain critical data. I bet one of them is my Engineering 101 project from freshman year in college.
3. A plastic stand-alone drawer full of receipts from 2003 from a short-lived bout of determined organization combined with an obsessive-compulsive urge to save all receipts for a month.
4. About thirty zip disks. Remember zip disks?
5. A box labeled "knick-knacks" which is itself a treasure trove of hilarious artifacts. Namely:

a. A jewelers box containing a cheap shell necklace that was clearly a free gift from the airline that took us to Hawaii in 2004.
b. A baggie of nails and mysterious little wooden dowel caps.
c. A pink paper bag of new buttons for my black trenchcoat that I bought in Nantucket on our honeymoon in 2003.
d. Directions on how to grow a Plumeria.
e. Harry Potter glasses.
f. The "Doc" pin (Doc of the Seven Dwarfs) that I received as a gift from The Professor and Mr. The Professor.
g. A key chain with the meaning of our last name.
h. A cork.
i. A lanyard that is clearly supposed to go to something specific.
j. A broken watch.
k. Black thread.
l. White thread.
m. A tealight.
n. Seven Mr. Pickleses, which are small little chickens made out of pipe cleaner material that I have never explained on this blog, but now I will have to.
o. Two packets of extra buttons.
p. 6 drinks umbrellas from Hawaii.
q. Two drinks swords from Hawaii.
r. A small crucifix. Naturally.
s. A ridiculously out of date collection of business cards which I will not go through.
t. Look! More receipts!
u. Plane ticket stubs.
v. Store cards.
w. A "buy 10 get one free" card from the smoothie place at the food court at grad school. One hole has been punched.
x. A St. Andrew medal.
y. A pen cap.

And last but not least,
z. Three capacitors.

What? Where do you keep YOUR capacitors?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Today I will be taking Jack to the fancy schmancy photography studio to get his one-year portrait done. This session is the last in the "baby panel" series, after which I will not be returning to the fancy schmancy photography studio. It is nothing against the pictures; the pictures are gorgeous. It is more the cost of said pictures. You see, the "baby panel" is a promotion run by this studio that includes sittings at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months and one 5x7 from each session, all for $79. Now, this is quite a deal, I have to say, even though I didn't find out about this studio until after I had already missed the 3-month session. So it is not the $79 that is the problem. It is more the cost of prints above and beyond the 5x7s that are included with the promotion.

At the 6-month portrait sitting which took place at 7-months for reasons I will discuss momentarily, I received a booklet of their package prices and I almost dropped dead from the shock. That was when I discovered that by choosing one of their packages, I could save $1700 over the cost of buying that many prints individually. I could SAVE $1700. Saving money is all well and good, but trust me, buying the prints a la carte would not come to a total of $1800.

I also found out that in order to choose the prints, The Husband and I would have to come back to a formal "viewing" where we would be shown a slide show of each picture from the session and anything we didn't choose that day would be deleted. The pressure! We tried to harden our hearts before the viewing and decided to choose only one pose for the cheapest option, 24 wallets, but naturally, we caved and bought two poses divided among one 8x10, one 5x7 and 8 wallets, because adding the 5x7 to the wallets was only $50 more and adding a second pose and the 8x10 was only $50 more on top of that, and that's practically the same price, really, when you think about it, I mean, the 8x10 is practically free, and how could we possibly be expected to choose just one pose of our adorable child?

But why was the 6-month session a month late, you ask? Well the studio has a lot of rules. The "baby panel" is designed to be a series of photos of the baby lying down (3 months), sitting up (6 months), standing holding on (9 months) and standing unassisted (12 months). Jack, naturally, was not able to sit up unassisted at 6 months. About a week before his appointment, I called the studio to tell them he could not yet sit up, as they had requested me to do. "Oh, no," said the guy who makes the appointments. "Well, when will he be able to?" Since Jack had not informed me of his schedule, I had to tell him that I really didn't know. "Well, let's just schedule for next month and hope," said the man at the studio, and we did. Fortunately, Jack got his act together in time and, although he was a little tippy the day of the session, we were spared having to wait until he was almost 9-months to take the 6-month shots.

After the 9-month portrait, the photographer asked me to call as soon as he could stand up unassisted, since she did not like to take portraits of toddlers if she could avoid it. I assumed that this would not be a problem, because Jack was up on all fours rocking back and forth for at least 5 weeks before he actually managed to crawl. I figured we'd have plenty of time.

I called the studio on a Friday and left a message that Jack could stand unassisted, and we should schedule the 12-month session. They did not return my call for 3 days by which point Jack was already teetering around the house pretty skillfully. "Yeah, he's walking," I said. "Sorry. He's pretty wobbly now, but this is happening really really fast, so I imagine he'll be running by next week." The studio panicked and gave me the next available appointment, which was for last Wednesday. But once again, Jack refused to cooperate and instead came down with a cold, so we had to reschedule. That turned out to be a very good thing, however, because the morning of the original appointment, Jack fell on his face and scratched the heck out of his nose. Not something I was anxious to memorialize for eternity.

So the photographer is going to have a little adventure trying to catch Jack standing still for long enough to snap some pictures. We'll schedule the viewing, spend a bit more money than we really want to, and go to Sears or someplace for his next portrait. Because I just don't have $1700 to save.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In the meantime

I'm working on a real post, honest. It's just been difficult to keep up with the blog lately, because, and this may come as a huge shock, raising a baby is hard work! I know! No one told me either. And lately I've had to do actual work stuff at night, and I'm trying to make a year-in-review video of Jack a la Amalah, so my computer time has been accounted for. Also we've been having internet issues. (The Husband tried to explain what he did to fix it, and there was something about the router and the modem and a direct connection which bypasses the electronic whoozywhatsis and blah blah blah, and my eyes glazed over and I said, "Um, I don't actually understand any of the things you are saying. Does the internet work? Yes? Does the wireless connection? No? OK.") Also I am TIRED. Also, Jack skipped his morning nap today. SKIPPED. And then he tried to only sleep for 40 minutes in the afternoon, but I was having NONE OF THAT and rocked his little self back to sleep. One nap a day? I AM NOT READY FOR ONE NAP A DAY.

That being said, I am very sad that I have wasted the linkage from Arwen whom I was lucky enough to meet last week. Because she is not a slacker like me, she actually wrote about this meeting and linked to me twice! Arwen is an internet rockstar, so this shot the number of pageloads for those to days from my average of 30 to a record high 8 billion.* And what did all of these new readers find? The most boring page in existence. And now they'll never come back.

But now I am posting this, so if they do come back, they will find this bizarre stream-of-consciousness post about nothing in particular. Right. This is much better.

Edited to add
Also also, today I got a huge glob of Desitin on my shirt, and I ONLY HAVE THREE SHIRTS. Does Desitin come out? It probably never comes out. (This is true if the word "shirt" implies a shirt that is not a sad sack of faded, shapeless cotton. If you count the sad sacks of faded, shapeless cotton, I have at least six shirts.)

*I was going to quote the actual numbers here, but Statcounter won't load up. Did Statcounter go out of business or something? Why won't Statcounter load up? How am I supposed to keep track of the 7 people who read my blog?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

And he wears them for a long time

If putting your baby's red sweatpants on his head like a hat for your own amusement is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

They give you 10 blank ones every time you send one out

If my mom had a blog, she’d use it to tell you what happened when she and my dad packed up and moved out of the house they’d lived in for the past 37 years. At least, she’d start to tell you about it, but then she’d get distracted by the overwhelmingness* of unpacking 37 years’ worth of stuff and instead tell you who it was that gave her that tiny silver milk pitcher.

But my mom doesn’t have a blog, so it is left to me to tell you all what The Charmer, now five years old, said at his first visit to my parents’ new home. He said, “You sure have a lot of Jesus stuff.”

I suppose it does seem like a lot when it’s all piled together, but the Jesus stuff pales in comparison to what the movers saw. My parents hired experienced movers who are trained not to have opinions about other people’s stuff. Still, the mover had a hard time keeping a straight face when he lugged a huge box into the house, glanced down at the label, and asked, “Where do you want these… mass cards?”

*Don’t I have as much right as anyone to coin a word?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Breaking news

I thought you should know, dear Internet, that today I took Jack to the shoe store to buy him his first pair of shoes. He needs them because he spends much more time walking than crawling these days.

Let that sink in.

Also let sink in the fact that his shoes cost me forty-six dollars, and they are only going to fit him for five minutes. It's a crying shame that the hand-me-down sneakers from Elfin Nephew make Jack fall down.

In an unrelated note, today is apparently delurking day. I am late, very late, to the party with this, but if you're lurking, come out and leave a comment!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

But... she doesn't even know the words to "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra!"

Two weeks ago, The Husband and I went on a date. As in, just he and I. Out. Together. Alone. With cocktails. It was pretty nice, yeah. It was, in fact, the first time we had been on a date since I gave birth. Actually, I should say it was the first time we had been on a date since The Bathroom Remodel, because Lord knows there was no time for romance when there were walls to put up and cabinets to rehang.

This date was the first of our attempts to follow the "One Date A Month" rule we established for ourselves in, oh, April. But the months, they fly by! And the babysitters, they get busy! You have to book early with these babysitters. They have social lives too, you know. But we finally managed it two weeks ago. We called the babysitter a whole week in advance. We located the restaurant gift card we received as a baby gift from my choir. We checked to see what movies were playing. Because we were going to do this date thing right. Dinner AND a movie. We were going to live the life, baby.

The babysitter, a delightful high school sophomore, arrived promptly at 6:30. The Husband and I were dressed, Jack was fed and pajama-ed. So The Husband ran through the emergency numbers and then hilariously tried to make small talk with the 15-year-old girl in our kitchen while I nursed Jack. ("Why, yes, that is a large mixer. They sure are heavier than they look, those mixers.") After Jack was done, I went over the bedtime routine, kissed Jack goodnight, handed him over and... we left.

Now, both The Husband and I are relaxed parents. This was not even the first time we had left Jack with this babysitter; we had had her over twice before to make sure Jack knew her. But this did not stop us from feeling, albeit ever so slightly, as though we were abandoning our baby in his time of need. It's bedtime! No one but us had ever put him to bed before! What if she forgets to read Barnyard Dance last? And, oh heavens, I forgot to tell her that I always say, "Now we get comfy cozy and we sing our good-night song," after we turn out the light! Oh nooooooooo! But we stifled these feelings and focused on the promise of a dinner with cocktails, a dinner blessedly free of the command, "No shrieking."

We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner, heroically resisting all temptations to call and check in on the babysitter. Afterwards, we headed over to the movie theater and bought tickets for The Bourne Ultimatum. The reviews for Bourne were full of phrases like "pounding, pulsating thriller" and "constant adrenaline surge," so I was looking forward to an exciting movie. And according to The Husband, it was very exciting. His adrenaline: It surged. You will have to take his word for it though, because I fell asleep. It seems that 10:00 pm is 10:00 pm, no matter where I am, and that, my friends, is what time I fall asleep.

At any rate, we came back home to a nice, peaceful house. There had been no problems at bedtime whatsoever. Naturally, I was thrilled by this. Someone else successfully put Jack to bed with no issues! I am free! Free to leave the house before 7:00 pm if I so desire. Free to fall asleep on my friend's couch at 10:00 pm if I want to. But even as I reveled in my freedom, I could feel a twinge of... what was that? Offense? Hurt feelings?

You mean he didn't miss me at all?

It's a look

Why is it that the day my friend is coming to videotape Jack for a class is the same day Jack decides to find out what it feels like to carefully place sliced (and sticky) banana discs on his head? Banana discs: The mousse for the baby set. And while we're on the subject of breakfast, why does food that is rejected when sitting in the high chair suddenly become delicious when picked off the floor? It's like a race after every meal to see who can pick up the food first. I don't always win.