Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Florida

I know full well that people in Florida are crazy, but they sure have some nice weather down here. My mother is underwriting a full-family Florida vacation and has rented an wonderful house for everyone, right across the street from the beach. I could see from the moment we landed that this was going to be a fantastic vacation, and I have already suggested roughly a billion times that we make this vacation an ongoing family tradition.

Also, I have an important update about the Handstand Plan. Do you remember what that is? My sister, her boyfriend, and I are taking a gymnastics class, and we set an ambitious goal: that we wanted to do handstands together at the beach at the same time, and document it with a photo. We knew this would be challenging, but we were determined to succeed, and practiced literally minutes a week to hone our skills. But more on the Handstand Plan later.

First, a little something about the house we're staying in. There are a lot of tacky mailboxes in Florida, but even among tacky mailboxes, the mailbox at our house stands out You know you're in an area with high-quality beaches when air-brushed pelicans start showing up on mailboxes.




Another good sign: our rented house came with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR cocktail shakers. However, that's approximately four more cocktail shakers than we need. We're more of a corkscrew crowd.



And one more bit of local Florida character that I want to share with you. Yesterday, a tourist at a beach not too far away found a leg. A leg that was missing the rest of its body. In case you don't believe me, you can check out this article: "Human Leg Washes up in St Petersburg Yard.

That's the kind of thing that NEVER happens in Wisconsin, although there was some news coverage recently when a Wisconsin woman who was fishing happened to pull up someone's artificial leg that had been lost in a lake. And then the Wisconsin woman managed to track down the leg's original owner and return the leg to her! That's just the kind of thing someone from Wisconsin would do! In contrast, I have a strong suspicion that the leg that washed up on the beach nearby is never getting reunited with its original owner.

This Florida vacation has been fantastic. Sadly, however, I'm going to have to wait until next time to update you on the success (or not) of our Handstand Plan. The photos proving (or disproving) the ability of three people with questionable coordination to do handstands on the beach all at the same time are in my mother's camera. I don't have a way to transfer the photos from her camera to the computer to be published here. Unless, of course, I can use a cocktail shaker.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas

Merry Christmas from Florida! Instead of celebrating the holidays in the cold and snow of Wisconsin, we're enjoying the white sand beach on a island off the Florida Gulf Coast. This Christmas has been completely awesome, one of the best ever. The weather is beautiful, the beach is nearby, AND there are lizards. Lizards help make everything better.

We got in late at night, and when we woke up the next morning and hit the beach, Baby W was very confused. Happy, but confused. Where was the snow? Why was it so warm? Despite his confusion, or maybe because of it, he charged fearlessly into the ocean. He didn't have a single qualm about wading into chest-deep water. It would not surprise at all me to learn that he has big plans for swimming, including possibly swimming to Cuba. Here's David making sure Baby W stays on American shores and does not display his socialist tendencies any more than is absolutely necessary.


Seriously, I recommend that everyone spend Christmas on a beach in Florida. Except for Floridians, who might find it boring. They should probably head to Wisconsin and go snowmobiling instead.

It is fantastic to be able to walk around in warm weather, without all those layers of winter clothes that we have to wear back home in Wisconsin. I have been walking around with my arms outstretched, trying to expose a maximum amount of my body area to the warm air molecules, letting out the occasionally "oooooh." It's tempting to strip completely and roll around on the beach sand. I won't, though, because I don't want the lizards to see me naked.

How gorgeous is the weather? I'll tell you how gorgeous it is -- today we ran the air conditioning in the house my mom has rented for us, it was so warm. Doesn't that seem decadent? It seems so decadent I'm a little concerned God might strike us down. If there's anything that makes the Baby Jesus cry, it's running the air conditioning on Christmas.

We are staying right across the street from the beach, and today we went to the beach three separate times. We also swam in the tiny swimming pool in the back yard of the house where we're staying. Basically, we're going to be so waterlogged that we're going to turn into raisins by the end of the trip. But we will be very happy raisins. Raisins filled with Vitamin D.

There were a whole assortment of people on the beach on Christmas Day, and most of them seemed to be gay couples. In fact everywhere we went today we saw gay couples, and I started to suspect that today is actually Gay Christmas. I'm not sure when Heterosexual Christmas is. Maybe in March some time. It's probably a very boring holiday.

Merry Christmas from Florida from our family to yours (unless you are one of those godless heathens who destroy our once-great nation by saying things like "Happy Holidays.") And it probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Merry Christmas from the lizards.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paleo

I have found the secret to getting good sleep even when you have little kids! Are you ready for this? Here's what I do: I lay down with kids at 7 PM when they are going to bed, thinking of all the things I will accomplish when I get up. Somehow I manage to fool myself that I am capable of lying there in the dark without falling asleep. Apparently I am very gullible. So gullible I can even be fooled by myself. Hey self, did you know that "gullible" is not in the dictionary?

I last 30 or mayyyyybe 40 seconds before falling soundly asleep and then don't get out of bed until the alarm goes off the next morning. Of course, this means I spend the whole night sleeping in my work clothes, but I prefer to consider the glass half full, and think of this as being already dressed for the next day. It's really too bad I don't wear cosmetics because then I could wake up with a face all smeary and think of myself as pre-mascara'ed for the next day as well.

The result of all this beauty rest is that even though Baby W is a frequent waker, I manage to wring 8 good hours of sleep out of the 11 hours I spend in bed. However, all that time in bed means that very little else around here gets accomplished, including luxuries such as basic hygiene. Humans aren't meant to shower in the winter, right? I mean, hunter-gathers didn't have much in the way of heated hot water in frigid months so I  imagine they were content to stay dirty. Instead of following a Paleo diet, I'm going to start a new trend by following Paleo hygiene.

Anyway, one thing that I HAVE managed to accomplish recently was to get a Christmas tree. I accomplished this by telling David to take the kids and go get a tree. Delegation: how did I ever live without it?

Our family takes an urban approach to getting a Christmas tree. Rather than going out in the woods and chopping down a tree ourselves, we head to a nearby parking lot and buy a tree from a vendor selling a variety of stumpy pines. Last year, I even managed to take both kids to pick out a tree and then dragged the tree home behind us on a sled. This year, though, we have had only minimal snow, probably because God is punishing me for eating all the Thin Mints without letting the rest of my family know we even had any in the house. So we had to use the car to get the tree.

Stella decorated our tree, and hung as many ornaments as possible out of the reach of Baby W. We call this the Occupy Christmas Tree, because the top 1% of the tree is hogging way more than its fair share of the ornaments.



The next thing you know, the lower boughs of our Christmas tree will declare themselves the 99%, and then we will start hearing backlash about how those boughs are basically dirty hippies who need to suck it up and deal with the unpleasant realities of life. While I don't agree with those news stories at all, it's true that the "We Are The 99%" branches probably DO need to take a shower -- unless they're following the new Paleo Hygiene regimen, in which case it all makes perfect sense.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beatification

I see how it is. You like dirty vegetable pictures. While I don't have any more photos of carrots getting jiggy, I did run across this somewhat phallic eggplant recently. Is that smutty enough for you perverts?


Changing the subject: I call bullshit on this whole recession thing. Jobs deficit, my finely muscled, curvaceous yet firm, yielding yet sculpted white ass. If so many people are out of work, then why can't I find anyone to take care of my children? Once again, we're looking for someone to provide child care, and I'm disheartened to be revisiting this process once again. Right now, we're relying in large part on students, who have limited availability because -- and this is really frustrating -- they apparently want to go to class now and then. I thought we got rid of the whole "university" concept in the budget! Apparently we short-sightedly retained some fragment of the state's higher education system. How are we supposed to create jobs if we don't get these academic types out of the classroom and into the working world, stat?

The other person we rely on for child care is Maggie, who lucky for us is not a student. She has an infectious laugh, is just all-around awesome, and the kids just adore her. On a related note, David adores Maggie's husband, in part for his fabulous musical skills. Since the kids adore Maggie, and David adores Maggie's husband, I guess I'm going to have to find somebody else in Maggie's family to adore -- maybe her cat, for its advanced hairball hacking abilities.

As much as we would love to have Maggie take care of the kids all the time, we need somebody else to help out as well. And that's where things get tough, tougher than you would think in this economy. We're offering $13/hr to provide child care, yet I'm having difficulty finding suitable candidates! I'm not picky -- my minimum requirements include only a PhD in child development (no post-docs required!), 20 or more years working in a health care facility, and that a panel of theologians has recommended the candidate for canonization or at the very least beatification. It would also be helpful if he or she knows how to make play-dough.

So we're interviewing candidates for child care and revising work schedules once again. Keep your eye out for anyone who might be interested, okay? And in return, I promise to post pictures of any more pornographic vegetables I find.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bydgoszcz

The various parts of the family have returned from their far-flung destinations. The kids and I returned from spending several days in Washington, DC, where I am sad to say we were NOT greeted at the airport by President Obama, which shows just how out of touch he is with America. How can he be serious about job creation when he couldn't even be bothered to meet us out for dinner?!

And David returned from attending a film festival in the Polish city of -- no joke -- Bydgoszcz. Ah, Bydgoszcz. Bydgoszcz! I just get a kick out of typing that name. It's almost like a parody of a Polish city name, like somebody sat down and tried to throw together a bunch of random letters and make it look Polish but went just a little too far, because seriously dude, nobody's going to believe that's a real city. But Bydgoszcz is in fact a real city, one that is the co-capital of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, which I'm sure is a huge spring break destination, right up there with Cancun.

You know how people are always likening totally inappropriate cities to Paris? Detroit is the Paris of the Midwest, Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America, East St. Louis is the Paris of southern Illinois, Baruun-Urt is the Paris of Upper Mongolia. Well, I'd lay good money down that Bydgoszcz is the Paris of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship.

David reports that he was exposed to a great deal of Polish culture in Bydgoszcz, especially the part of the Polish culture that is related to vodka. He also developed his Polish language skills -- in addition to being able to say "I'd like a beer please," he can now say "I'd like TWO beers, please."

And what did we return to? CARROT PORN. Here's what came in our first community supported agriculture vegetable box after we returned to Wisconsin:


Look, I'm all for local, organic produce we get in our CSA box, but I'd prefer local, organic produce that WEARS PANTS. And did you notice how it hangs a little to one side? I hear that's surprisingly common.

And then there's this gem. For crying out loud! Get a room!


My guess is that these carrots participated in abstinence-only sex ed in high school, and are now on their way to making baby carrots. How is it that the contents of my root cellar get more action than I do these days? I took my resentment out on the little lovebirds by shredding them and baking them into muffins.

Our little family is back together again, and back home, after travelling separately. Even though I'm glad to be back, I really enjoy traveling. The kids are very experienced travelers, and that helps make trips easier. In fact, I'm already looking forward to our next voyage. I'm thinking we need to make a trip to the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chickens

Chickens!

No, don't worry, we didn't get chickens. These are the neighbor's chickens. Urban chickens are all the rage here in Madison but I have the sense God gave a bird louse, and I know that chickens are bad news, no two ways about it. Chickens might be great if you live out in the country, but when you have a postage-stamp sized yard like we do, it makes no sense to devote a decent portion of it to animals that are messy, poop everywhere, and have to be watched closely lest they come to a bad end. I mean, that's what I have kids for. Chickens have all the negative aspects of children, without the tax benefits make the little darlings so appealing.

David was relieved -- very relieved -- to hear that I don't want chickens. For some reason, he was sure that I would want to get some. In retrospect, what I should have done is at least pretended to explore the idea of getting chickens, and then let David talk me out of it....in exchange for getting something I want. "You're putting the kibosh on getting chickens, David? Okay, then how about a third baby instead? Take your time deciding... no hurry...."

We will never have chickens, but thank goodness for neighbors who ask us to chicken sit while they are away. Here are the kids getting out some chicken feed:


By the way, that chicken pecked Baby W's fat little finger and made him cry. I don't blame the chicken -- his finger bears more than a passing resemblance to a worm. But I wouldn't be surprised if Baby W develops a life-long aversion toward chickens. And a life-long love of chicken drumsticks.

I'm always a little nervous taking care of other people's animals. About two years ago, I was taking care of a neighbor's cat while the neighbor was away, and the cat DIED. Granted, the cat was elderly, but it was still a very unpleasant surprise when I went over to feed it and found it semi-conscious. After talking to the owner, I rushed the cat to the emergency 24-hour vet but it died anyway. Now, before I pet sit, I require a veterinarian's certificate of good health and three references. Notarized.

Shortly thereafter, I nearly had a similar experience with a fish. I was feeding a friend's beatta fish while she was away, and the fish was very lethargic and didn't want to eat. Basically, the fish was depressed and had lost the will to live. I was afraid it wasn't going to survive the length of her vacation, but nobody leaves me in charge of a $3 fish and doesn't come back to find a $3 fish, know what I mean? Fortunately the fish's seratonin reuptake inhibitors kicked in and and it perked up. Its survival might also have something to do with the Prozac I slipped into its water.

I'm glad other people living near us have chickens. First of all, I just like the idea of people raising chickens in urban spaces. I also like chicken-sitting because it allows my kids to have fun interactions with chickens with only a fraction of the amount of work that goes along with owning chickens. I hope our neighbors ask us to chicken sit again sometime soon, once they finish getting the veterinarian's certificate notarized.