Sunday, August 30, 2009

When Daddy's Away...

Mommy and Buddy will play!

Friday night daddy left to visit his pals and do his annual Fantasy Football Draft. I still don't fully understand why this is done in person, but every time I ask I get a looong response about bylaws and the quality of the draft. Okey-dokey.

Jeremy and I began our Daddy-free weekend with a picnic dinner on the living room floor while we watched, sang along with, and danced to Mama Mia! It was fun. Jeremy kept looking at me smiling while eating his cheesy egg sandwich on the floor (on a mat - I am not an idiot). He knew he was breaking the rules with me and he looked absolutely delighted. Oh, and I should mention that since eggs are Jeremy's favorite food, we had none in the house. And no car. So, thanks to Joel (read his hilarious blog here) for letting us walk to his place and take 3 eggs home with us. May I just add that carrying a heavy toddler and three eggs across the street is not fun. But it is possible!

So, then Saturday morning we got up at 7am to clean the house. Fun, right? It was! We blasted mommy music (Madonna's Immaculate Collection, Wicked, Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet), and danced around the house with dust cloths and brooms. Loads of fun. Jeremy really likes putting things away. Slightly counterproductive was his love of dumping things out after putting them away, but still, I appreciate the help.

We cleaned because we had a whole day of fun planned with my friends Bryan, Joel, and Anna. Joel and Bryan showed up before I had time to vacuum. They were not nice about it. Jeremy is terrified of the vacuum, so we only do it when he is asleep. Joel felt that Jeremy needed to face his fear, so I vacuumed. My poor baby was shaking and crying the whole time! Ignore what I said earlier about Joel being nice - he is a mean man! But, I must admit, my carpets looked so much nicer!!

Then we headed to the pool party and BBQ at our apartment complex clubhouse. It was a blast! Anna met us there and we signed up to win a free car, danced to the DJ's music mix, ate yummy Buddy's BBQ (the only decent BBQ joint in Knoxville), and won prizes playing trivia! I won a bottle of wine for answering "Who's 74 game win streak ended in November 2004?" (I don't actually remember the exact date, so I made that one up). All the guys present were guessing sports teams, but the nerd that is me knew it was Ken Jennings from Jeopardy! Yay Jeopardy, I love you! I don't actually like wine, so I gave it to Anna. She then won a free pizza for answering Madonna as the #1 selling female artist of all time. Jeremy and I also knew that one, but Anna beat us to it.

Jeremy's lei kept falling down to his feet. He was hilarious trying to pull it back up. It kept getting caught on his butt (uh-oh, did he inherit something else from his mother?).

Jeremy and Mommy at the picnic. He did not want to sit and take a picture. He wanted to run and play.

Anna helping Jeremy climb the stairs. He did this over and over again for ages. This is a new skill we are working on.

Jeremy loves Mr. Moo. And he loves Mommy. For some reason, when you combine the two, like above, he thinks it is the most hilarious thing in the entire world.

Disaster. I put Jeremy in a swim diaper in case he wanted to get in the pool, but it is much thinner than a regular diaper. Which we all saw when he peed on the floor. In front of everyone. I was mortified. Jeremy was just confused. (all pictures courtesy of Joel since I left my camera behind)

After Jeremy had to be stripped to his diaper since his shorts were peed on (my sun dress was also soaked btw), he then decided to take a big poop that stunk up the entire clubhouse patio. It was clearly time to leave the party. Oh well!

We all came back to our place and after Jeremy was cleaned up and put down to nap, we began our movie marathon. We watched Zoolander, Dick, and Intolerable Cruelty. It was fun. We put Anna's free pizza to good use and had a nice day.

Daddy came home in time to watch George Clooney woo Catherine Zeta-Jones, and we ended the day a full family and brimming with happy (and peed-on) memories! Thanks for playing Anna, Bryan, and Joel!

(Note: thanks for all the comments! I am honestly shocked that people read this. And I promise not to be mean to the president or Twilight anymore.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tantrums, Missed Milestones, and Competition

Oh boy, it was a fun night! As most of you know, Jeremy does not talk. I am honestly not really concerned about this, but I occasionally get these fits of "I need to be proactive about this and force the issue." So, last night Jeremy wanted to get up on the couch. He is not quite tall enough to hoist himself up on his own. He stood in front of me (I was sitting on said couch) and made the "pick me up and put me on the couch" gesture. Every other day of his little life, I have acquiesced to his every request. Not today. Now was the breakthrough moment that he would speak clearly his desires, he would see the cause and effect, and we would share a heartwarming hug and hours of conversation now that he is verbally competent.

Or not.

Instead, when I politely asked him to say "Up", he threw the fit of the century. He screamed, hit me, kicked, threw himself on the floor, pounded the couch, walked in angry circles around the coffee table, and made many sounds that could wake the dead, but none of them sounded at all like "Up". After over 10 minutes of this behavior, I decided to pick him up and take him upstairs to bed (this was not punishment, it really was his bedtime). He was sweaty from crying, chest heaving, and eyes and nose both leaking profusely. Naturally, my mommy heartstrings were pulled and I let him stay up late so that we could play school bus, alphabet puzzle, ball popper, and read both The Little Engine that Could and The Owl and the Pussycat before bedtime.

I felt the uncontrollable desire to let him know that I still loved him even though I would not let him onto the couch. That is the weird part about being a mom. I was full of mixed emotions all night. Part of me was scared that he doesn't talk at 20 months (what is wrong with him, is it permanent? What if he never talks?). Part of me was nervous and guilt-ridden that this permanent affliction is my fault (should I never let him have a cup unless he says "cup"? What if he never does, should he never drink again?). Part of me was completely relaxed and saw the humor in the situation (he is fine, and wow look at that tantrum - one for the books! You go, boy!). Part of me was sad and stricken at his little face and pleading eyes as they begged me to let him onto that couch (how could you mom, how could you? Don't you love me anymore?). Oh, and part of me was mad as all get out that he reacted in such an over-the-top emotional way (mad at me for passing that lovely trait along, not at him for picking it up).

It is so dang confusing being a parent. You never know if you are doing well enough or if your kid is normal, let alone ahead of the pack (which every book says he needs to be because just ok is not good enough). This whole thing began because I received my weekly email newsletter from, which tells me my kid's developmental milestones. My 20 months and 3 weeks old kid should apparently know 75 words. I have yet to really and truly hear him say one to my satisfaction. Geez, all those books I read when I was pregnant about constantly speaking to them, reading to them, and engaging them in activities were full of crap, apparently. They promised me that my son would talk sooner, run faster, and get more dates than any other kid if I did these things regularly - how dare they lie to me! How can I be a crazy competitive mother if my child is so far behind?!

And yet, as I type this I hear Jeremy in the kitchen opening the refrigerator and getting out the milk jug. Wow - now he is in here with the milk and his sippy cup. I must say I am impressed. Who cares if he can talk - he can make his own drink! I guess he won't be needing to say "cup" anytime soon after all!

And really, he is quite tall for his age, he will be able to pull himself onto the couch soon enough. Take that all you parents of vertically-challenged and un-self-sufficient children who just happen to know 75 words.

My kid is so much better than your kid! Bring it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies...No, No, No

Ok, so Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books. Like top two. Jane Austen and I would have been best friends if we lived in the same century. I feel that her six mature novels are hallowed ground. I am very nervous when any movie comes out based on them, and I truly feel there are only a few decent adaptations. For example, Colin Firth + Jennifer Ehle = Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Period. If you have not seen the 5 hour extravaganza that is the 1995 BBC version, stop and go do so now. The new stuff sucks. Keira Knightly is shameful. I don't even remember the guys name from that movie. Never bothered to read the credits.

I can roll with the times and am open to different interpretations, though. Provided they are good. I find Clueless to be hilarious and right on point for the time when it came out. An ingenious adaptation of Emma. Similarly, I can appreciate that dear Jane did not always know best. Case in point: read Sense and Sensibility and then watch the Emma Thompson movie version of the book. Ms. Thompson made some major changes and undoubtedly made the story much better and more enjoyable.

This preface is merely to illustrate that while I do worship the 19th century dirt road that Jane Austen demurely walked on with her delicate slipper, I can and do appreciate parody and adaptation.

However, I did NOT enjoy the mess that was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Are you kidding me? It is a freaking bestseller. They are making it into a movie. I am throwing up a little on the keyboard as I type this.

I really did try. I borrowed the book from Dani and in all honesty meant to like it. I thought the idea was a bit dumb, but I always try to enjoy it when Jane is made accessible to a new audience: in this case, adolescent boys. What first struck me was that Ms. Austen herself is listed as the main author of the book. Odd, right? I have read some sequels and trashy follow-up versions of her novels, but she has never been listed as an author - certainly not the main author. Odd. Then, I started reading. It took less than 3 sentences to understand the byline. This is a word-for-word reprinting of the original Pride and Prejudice. The only difference, and I am not exaggerating, is the occasional insertion of the word "zombie" "vomit" or "ninja." Instead of walking to Meryton, the sisters Bennett fight zombies on the road to Meryton. And not even that creatively. All the fight scenes are like one page tops. The "author" Seth Grahame-Smith seems almost lazy in his execution. He throws in the surprise elements like cannibalism for shock value, but adds no real substance. The shock and novelty wear off rather quickly and you are left with Austen's characters and plot, but random holes where her witty dialogue and quaint scenes have been replaced with hollow fights and pointless Chinese ninja skills.

I think, though, that my biggest complaint is the butchering of some of the most beautiful and poignant parts of the book. If you are going to leave 90% of the dialogue intact, why remove some of the best and replace it with dung (figuratively and unfortunately literally as well)? My first concern was for poor Charlotte Lucas. Austen already gave her the short end of the stick in marrying her off to Mr. Collins, but Smith actually kills her off. I get it - her suffering from the "terrible affliction" of becoming a zombie is what induces her to marry Collins in the first place. But, come on, why kick a gal when she's down? We have to see her practically transform into a rotting corpse on the page. And, her early death, while satisfying in bringing about the suicide of Mr. Collins, left me bewildered as to how the novel could ever even reach its natural conclusion. Charlotte and Mr. Collins would no longer be able to spread the rumor of Darcy and Elizabeth to Lady Catherine. How will this work? Low and behold, Colonel Fitzwilliam is given the job in this shotty version, and it is completely unbelievable and totally against his character to tattle on Darcy to Lady Catherine. It really seemed like an afterthought. Smith got to that part, realized he screwed up, grabbed the only character left and just threw his name in there. Again, lazy writing and very disappointing.

Another problem I found was that early in the book, Smith changes some of Darcy's dialogue with Caroline Bingley. He is straight out rude and mean to her in public. Darcy would never do this. That is part of his mystique and charm. He is the ultimate reserved gentleman. He would never air his feelings so openly, and certainly not to Miss Bingley. He saves that for his passionate talks with Elizabeth. Smith totally messes with this amazing character and really pisses me off in the process.

My final beef is with the powerful, hilarious, and climactic scene where Lady Catherine comes to Longbourn to confront Elizabeth. In this version, their argument never even takes place. They fight it out ninja-style. I suppose the 13 year old boys reading this prefer it that way, but I missed the verbal fight when the physical one left me confused. The shades of Pemberly are not deemed polluted, but I guess I am supposed to be satisfied that Elizabeth beats Lady Catherine into submission with a well-timed "butterfly kick"? What? Even odder, she then walks the old bag to her carriage and sees her off. Are you kidding me?

So, there you have it. I hated it. The rest of the world apparently loved it. These are the same people who put Obama in the White House and keep Twilight on the bestseller list, though. What can you do other than write a really long blog about your feelings and hope for the return of real culture to our lives?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Swine Flu

So, I have a few thoughts about the swine flu. First of all, I do not like it. I think it has an ugly name and just sounds yucky. "Swine" is an ugly word. Second of all, I work on a college campus. More specifically, I work with residence halls. Even more specifically, I work with apartment-style residence halls where up to 4 college students share a living space. Let's define "college student" quickly: a student who does not understand personal space, accountablity, consequences, or hygiene. They drink from each other's cups, they do each other's hair, they bed-hop, they don't get enough sleep, they are constantly in contact with each other, and they spread germs like crazy.

Hello, irresponsible college students, there is a yucky thing called swine flu spreading across our country. Look at all the posters everywhere warning you to wash your hands, etc. Did you see them? Did you try to keep yourself clean? You didn't?! What! Did you call your mom and tell her that you are sick because the "dorms" are unclean? You did?! Good for you!

My last few days:

Phone rings: "Hello, this is Jeannie."
Mom: "Well, Jeannie, this is so and so's mother. My son/daughter is sick with a deadly flu because you did not properly educate him, clean his room, hold his hand, or cancel school. He needs a housing refund, a new apartment, and an excuse to miss a week of classes. NOW!"
Me: "Well, ma'am, I am sorry your son is sick -"
Mom: "You being sorry does not help my poor baby! I want a new germ-free apartment for him immediately!" Click.
Clearly, I then go build a new apartment for him, as no parent understands the concept of "we are full and have no empty apartments."

Or this one:

Frantic Mother: "Hello! Who is this! My daughter did not answer her phone this morning! I call her every morning at 6am to wake her up for class and she did not answer. I saw on the news about the swine flu. I think she may be dead - sobs - can you go into her room and see if she is alive? I'm on my way to Knoxville from Memphis now. Call me if she is alive!"
I call the RA, who knocks on daughter's door. Daughter answers door. "Call your mom, she thinks you are dead."
Girl: "Crap. My mom is crazy. I was just ignoring her."
RA: "Please don't - she is calling the police and driving here now to prepare your body for the funeral."

Did I mention I only work with upperclassmen? These are not freshmen we are talking about here.

So, for the record, yes, we have swine flu here. Yes, we have a lot of swine flu here. Yes, sorority recruitment was hit hard. No, that is not my fault. We have posters everywhere. We have masks, hand sanitizer, and kleenex available in every single lounge of all of our buildings. Swine flu is less harmful and painful than regular flu. It is not my fault you licked your roommate, and she was sick. That is your fault. Tell your mom to stop calling me. Please.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Tuesdays are good days. I have staff meeting with my apartments area staffs and usually have a few one-on-ones. I get some alone time with Jeremy, which is pretty rare. Today we played "hide in the closet" and "alphabet puzzle." Jeremy loves both of these games. I pretend to love them. He broke the closet door, so it no longer slides easily for the big reveal when he is hiding. This is a huge disappointment in his life. The alphabet puzzle is slowly losing pieces. He broke the 'x'. Too much slobber will cause even a wooden puzzle piece to break in half, apparently. The 'j' is now missing as well. Perhaps it will turn up. The 'v' was found in the bathroom, so who knows.

So, there we were, playing in the closet and with the poor puzzle, having a blast. A fun Tuesday. Until bedtime. Jeremy loves the closet. He loves the puzzle. He loves story time. He does not love bedtime. A battle royale ensued, but rest assured, I won. He is now slumbering peacefully, while I randomly decide to start a blog that no one will ever read. I have always wanted to start a blog, so hopefully some family members or close friends will agree to feign interest for a little while.

If I am willing to ask this of my friends and family, I will promise a little something as well. I will write regularly, I will tell the truth (mostly), and I will do my best to be entertaining. I will offer literary criticisms and comments on my life with the boys. I find humor and fun in my life, so why shouldn't you?