Belly up and hit the tap

Not long ago I was at a friend's house, and my four year-old asked me for a glass of water. I grabbed a cup and headed over to the sink.

"*GASP,*" my friend exclaimed. "Don't use that water, use the drinking water!"

"Oh, yeah, right, I don't know what I was thinking," I mumbled as I made my way towards the water tank I'd use countless times over the years I've known her.

Mere months ago I would have had the same reaction as her. In our last home, we had a state-of-the-art reverse osmosis water filtration system; only the purest of H's and O's made it through to our drinking water. When we moved to our rental home, it didn't have any filtration system at all, so we switched to bottled water.

But the thing is, we are on a budget. A serious budget. The paycheck-to-paycheck kind of budget (and sometimes we don't make it that far). Things have to give; items that were once necessities become luxuries.

Like bottled water.

At first I did the Sacrificial Mom thing and saved the bottled water for my kids, and I started to drink *gasp* tap water. It tasted...weird. Then I thought of how I grew up drinking municipal water (except for those years we had our own well), and how that water probably tasted very similar to what I was presently attempting to choke down.

Then I had a very interesting conversation with a friend in town whose husband is an environmental engineer; he just happens to study water. Guess what he drinks? And his kids?

Water from the tap.

He emphatically states our tap water is perfectly fine, and he knows it as well as anybody, and certainly better than most. He is so confident that it is safe his children have been drinking it from the moment they first swallowed something other than breast milk.

He's not alone; as much as forty percent of bottled water's source is from municipal taps. Furthermore, municipal water is regulated by the EPA...not so with some bottled water. So I started to feel better about drinking tap water and giving it to my kids.

Then I noticed how our recycling container wasn't as full as it had been, and how when I threw a container into it (our city provides each house with 65 gallon curbside recycling bins, half for paper products and half for plastic and glass containers) it tended to crash against glass rather than bounce off plastic. Hmmmmm...

That's right, now that we aren't buying bottled water by the gross we have greatly reduced not only our cash outflow, but also our plastic consumption. And that alone can't be a bad thing.


An Engineer's Guide to Cats

In case you haven't seen this one...if you're a cat lover (or not) you'll laugh. Unless you are dead inside.

BTW, here are my three hairball factories:



So, today I was at the grocery store with my four year-old daughter, and my mom. Three generations tooling around the aisles, grabbing at things and yelling at each other to PUT them back!

At one point I was price shopping for cheap selecting the perfect vintage Pinot Noir for our dinner, when this young dude glides past me and scoops up a bottle of Jäger without even slowing down. I smiled, thinking of some (mommy?) blogger I'd read earlier today who'd talked about doing a few too many Jager shots with her husband (Dang? Who was it? Help me out!!!).

It's Thursday night in a college town, nothing odd about someone grabbing some Jäger...what was impressive is that he just stroooooooooooode on while fluidly whipping a bottle from the shelf without disturbing its neighbors.

A minute or so later I met back up with my mom and daughter, and suddenly there was that Smooth Dude walking past us. Chattin' on his cell phone and walking towards the exit. Still sailing smoothly, but his gait was also somewhat less...effortless.

And the
Jäger bottle? Nowhere to be seen.

I stopped and watched him and Smooth Dude just continued sailing right out the door. Buh-bye, SD. Buh-bye, bottle of

I said to my mom, before SD was out the door, "He is stealing a bottle of
Jäger." I thought about running after him. I thought about contacting a Sales Associate. As I stood there I thought a lot of things in a millisecond.

But, you know what? I didn't know for sure he stole anything. For all I know, he's a David Blaine in training and one of his skills is Being Smooth and Non-Bottle Moving Whilst Drifting Through Grocery Store Aisles.

Or maybe he realized he didn't have the cash and randomly dropped the
Jäger off somewhere.

Perhaps the person he was talking to on the phone had just told him, "Smooth Dude, my roommate just totally bought some
Jäger. No worries. Time to party on and you don't need to buy any Jäger (because in my head Smooth Dudes and friends all talk like characters from Wayne's World)(Party ON!) !"

It could be that elves scurried out from the dairy section and stole the bottle from him and threatened him with a fortnight of bad luck if he didn't vamoose immediately.

Who knows what really happened. It just seemed pretty certain to me that I'd just witnessed a theft.

I looked at my daughter (who had, by the way, been a very reluctant shopper this entire expedition).

I looked at my mom (who probably, by the way, thought I was being a very
reluctant shopper this entire expedition).

I thought about what it would entail to chase SD down, accuse him, call the cops, who knows what. Yowsa, but I just thought, "Forget it. It's not worth it if I'm wrong."

Honestly, part of me thought it wouldn't be worth it if I was right. I know that was lame and weak of me, because
morally and socially and economically and theoretically and realistically and fiscally and...deep breath...legally it's just wrong to steal. But when I thought of the flipping hoops I'd have to go through, and what if I were wrong (but I know I wasn't)? Forget it.

It didn't seem worth it.

Was I wrong?

What would you have done?


An open mind is a terrible thing to waste

Last night my husband and I were at an association meeting for our daughter's preschool. There was a wonderful guest speaker who talked about how to foster our children's innate talents in the arts...specifically, music and the visual arts.

This woman has had decades of practical experience with preschoolers; she owns and runs a fabulous preschool (in an adjacent town) that is super sought after because it is play-based, loving, sweet, and inspirational. Honestly, she was wonderful. I love my daughter's preschool but I, for a brief moment, wished she went to this woman's.

Not only that, but this speaker is uber (don't have an umlaut key) well versed in her research. Not only is she kind and sparkly and funny and engaging, but she is also smart. CrAzY smart.

Honestly, I am not usually into this kind of thing. There was an autoharp and I was cajoled into making a church and steeple with my fingers. With no children present. Seriously, not me.

Yet, this woman was so charming and full of wisdom pearls that I resisted slipping out the back door and listened. Really listened. I was getting into it.

But then the speaker said something that not only did not resonate with me, it was so discordant that internally I eye-rolled and thought, "Pffffft."

(There is no uglier response than, "Pffffft.")

But I decided to let that go, and keep my heart and mind open for what she might offer up next.

An what do you know? Not long after my pffffft moment, there were beautiful words of wisdom that I absorbed and will implement for the rest of my life. I tucked away a few pearls for future reference, and I realized that this wasn't a wasted two hours after all.


So that worked for me...I let go of some of my knee-jerk reactions and allowed myself to listen. It was awesome!

I forced myself outside of my comfort zone and I will be forever thankful.


Coming out

About three and a half years ago, a friend called me to wish me a happy birthday. We giggled together as she tried to make it through the birthday song, and we chatted about my plans for the day.

Then she asked me if I'd voted. It also happened to be our last presidential election day. I had voted, and just to keep the silly going I told her I'd voted for the candidate she hated, the one she'd lobbied hard against. I thought she knew me well enough to know I was pulling her leg, but I was wrong.

"I have to tell you, I voted for X."

There was dead silence on the other end of the line for a beat, then she shrieked, "You WHAT?"

"I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I didn't vote for him."

"Who did you vote for?"

The thing is, I didn't want to tell her who I voted for, because I didn't vote for her favorite candidate. I voted third party, like I often do. So I tried to switch it up and distract her, "Don't worry, I didn't vote for X."

She wouldn't let it go, "Who did you vote for?"

"Forget it. When do you want to get the kids together?"

"Who did you vote for?"

"Honestly, I didn't vote for him. I don't want to talk about it anymore."

"Who did you vote for?"

It went on like that for a while, and finally I capitulated.

"YOU WHAT!?!? You voted third party? You might as well have voted for X. You wasted your vote! I cannot believe you did this! How could you? HOW COULD YOU?!?"

And she went on. And on. Berating me for my (very well considered) decision, that if X won I'd deserve what I got, etc. Pretty much put a damper on that birthday, let me tell you.

I'm fairly well versed in politics; I follow the issues as best I can in between empty sound bites that the media likes to serve up to us. I read a lot, listen a lot, watch a lot.

And I love discussing politics. The problem is, most people seem to react like my Birthday Friend. It's their way or nothing. There is no discussing, there is no room for debate or free thinking. If you don't agree with them, you are wrong. Period. End of discussion. Except for the berating bit.

Yesterday Megan at Velveteen Mind wrote quite the thought-provoking post about a similar topic. She's dipping her toes into the political, and has a lot of questions. The problem is, sometimes asking a question can be as heretical to those who are firmly entrenched in their belief system as openly opposing them.

I know that all too well. I have had friendships become strained because I asked questions, for the very act of asking made me suspect in their eyes. People have attempted to pigeon-hole me into a category, accusing me of being one of Them (that is, the enemy in their eyes) for daring to even question their tightly held beliefs.

I've been told that I can't be who I say I am politically. That it's impossible. I must be lying or stupid. Which I find odd, because this is who and how I've been my entire voting career.

Who am I politically?

Socially liberal.

Fiscally conservative.

There. I said it.


Am I alone in this? Am I the only Mommyblogger who isn't a registered Democrat?


Destroy Words

My four year-old is soooo post-modern.

Earlier today I was on my elliptical, and my four year-old daughter kept asking me how to spell the words "destroy" and "words." She was playing on Word Paint, and frankly I was getting a bit annoyed having to spell and respell the same words over and over.

Hours later, I found this on my laptop screen:

See what she did there? She destroyed words. Including the words "destroy words."

In the words of a former filibusterous acquaintance (who unendingly bragged about how advanced her children were, but would cut you off and roll her eyes when you mentioned the fact that your kid, oh I don't know, stopped eating their own boogers), "Oh, Chris, I'm sure your kid is a genius."

(She still eats her boogers. I'm proud of that, too.)



Pass me the Awesome

In honor of their fiftieth anniversary, Crayola gave kids the opportunity to rename some of the colors in their big 64 box (the one with the sharpener in the back!).

Ready to vomit? Here they are...

Yellow is now Super Happy.
Orange has been renamed Fun in the Sun.
Green isn't green anymore; call it Giving Tree.
Brown? Bear hug.
Dust Pink shall henceforth be called Awesome!
Blue...Happy Ever After.
Hot pink is Famous. That's hot.
Purple will now only answer to Best Friends.

Something about this makes me want to kick a puppy.


If at first you don't succeed...

I've moaned about it here before, but the problem remains.

In fact, it's worse than ever.

I can't fit into most of my clothes. ARRRRRGH.

My friend Mrs. Flinger has written a great article over at Blissfully Domestic about her fitness struggles. In it, she suggests we simplify things by making two basic lists...one of five goals, and one of five means to meet that goal.

So here goes:

1. Lose 15-20 pounds
2. Tone core
3. Gain muscle definition in upper arms and back
4. Fit into summer clothes
5. Say good-by to muffin-top

1. Elliptical 2-3 times per week 30-45 minutes
2. Walk or bike ride 1-2 times per week 60 minutes
3. Pilates/Yoga/something like that focusing on upper body for at least 2-3 times per week at least 20 mins
4. Play outside with my kids (walks, parks, kicking ball, etc.)
5. Cook organic, whole foods as much as possible

So, I am going to try, try again.


By the way, if I owe you an email or PM or money, my apologies. My internet has been on and off this past week, mostly off (we considered claiming the Comcast service guy on our taxes). I did get my article up at Blissfully Domestic, though! Check it out, won't you? Anyway, it seems that my internet is back on now, and I'll get back to you ASAP.

Unless I owe you money. In which case *static* what? I think I'm *static* losing my *static* connection again *static.*


Good-bye, Yellow Brick Road

Dear Sir Elton John,

I’d like to thank you for helping me when I was in third grade.

There was this talent show thing. I fiercely wanted to be in it, but I didn’t know what my talent might be. I settled on baton twirling, as it was something I had recently taken up and it made me feel kinda cool.

A friend and I decided to try out together, and we chose your song "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" as our background music. We rocked! AND we were chosen to be in the talent show. Woohoo! Throwing that baton up into the air as I spun around and caught it, while hearing you croon, “Saturday, Saaaaaturday, Saturday, Saaaaaturday, Saturday, Saaaaaturday, Saturday, that’s all riiiiiiiight!” is truly one of my favorite memories of my school days.

Suffice it to say, I have quite the soft spot for you in my heart.

So, back in 2004, when you accused (United States) American Idol voters of being “incredibly racist” because an African American had been eliminated from American Idol Three, I shrugged it off and made apologies for you. I figured your heart was in the right place, and hey! You had my back in third grade.

I know, you don’t need me to make apologies for you, but I did anyway. I’m pretty loyal that way.

Later, when an African American ended up winning that same year you called us racist, I thought you’d retract your accusation. You didn’t. I assumed you were on to better and bigger things.

Fast forward to today. Rather, yesterday. Nearly four years to the day that you accused the American Idol voters of being “incredibly racist” (really, a pretty heavy accusation, I must say), you have leveled a new charge against the people of the United States.

So, now, you are calling the people of the United States misogynists. Why? Because Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t kicking Barack Obama’s ass in the Democratic Primary?

A bit ironic, no? Because, what if she were ahead in the delegate count? Would we then be incredibly racist because Barack is African American?

Sorry, but your accusations are starting to ring hollow, Sir.

But we still have Paris our baton twirling rendez-vous. That was all good. Thanks for the memories.



Breaking up is hard to do

This week Mrs. Flinger posted a picture of her office. So being the lemming I am (I am not)I decided to do the same (happily I took a photo of my workspace before my camera went caput):


I've been living in this rental for about half a year now. You'd think I would have my shit together by now. I don't. This house is so much smaller than the one we sold I just can't find room for the stuff.

Here's my old living room:


Here's my new one:


And, just for fun, here is my old dining room:


And kitchen nook:

And cooktop:

It's weird to me that someone else is living in that house. I flipping designed it, you know? I spent hours on drawing out everything from the elevation to the cabinetries for the architect. See those glass cabinets at the top of the uppers? That was me. See the various tilework? My designs, my selections. My vision realized.

And the colors...oh, how I loved those colors.

That house was a labor of love, a culmination of years of images ripped from magazines and drawings on napkins. That was the house I thought my children would come home to from college, and where my grandchildren would visit us. Maybe stay with us for a week while their parents, our children, enjoyed a second honeymoon.

And someone else is calling that place THEIRS. I know, they bought it, it IS theirs. It's just hard for me to accept that. The other day my former next door neighbor told me that the new owners just love it. I know she wanted me to know it is loved. Yes, I am glad for that.

But it's like when you break up with someone you care about but know it's not meant to be, and later you spot them with someone else. That punch in the gut feeling, that loss of breath, that lingering longing and feeling of possession. That's how I feel about that house.

But part of it, it's soul, will always be mine. Or maybe what I'm saying, what is really accurate, is that part of my heart will always be there.


Fight the Frump Friday...Rock Bottom

I was intending to write a Fight the Frump Friday post today. Cuz it's Friday and junk.

Buuuuuuut, it's almost 12:30 in the afternoon. I'm in my pajamas. Hair greasy and unbrushed. Ditto for the teeth (and let me tell you, greasy teeth are anything but unfrumpy). My socks have holes in them and my face could use some serious exfoliation.

I was sick yesterday, and my daughter came down with a fever last night. I slept pretty fitfully, with her cuddling up to me all night and whispering intermittently, "I love you, Mommy."

It was worth not sleeping.

Anyway, today I've been trying to find a decently priced hotel room in San Fransisco (for the Bossy visit, squee!) that isn't a flea-ridden hell-hole riddled with various drippings from prior visitors. Wish me luck!

So my point is...jut like sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind, sometimes you gotta revel in the worst grossness your body can create in order to realize just how bad you don't want to be a frump.

I'm hitting Frumpy Rock Bottom here, peeps.

(I must still be a bit sick...I said "squee" and I think I misspelled it!)


Join me over there, won't you?

Today, you can find me here, at my Healthy Living editing gig at Blissfully Domestic. I wrote an article about what to do when your kids are afraid to go to the doctor. Yowsa!

I'll also be in and out of the forums at Blissfully Domestic Living.

Catch ya back here tomorrow!