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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Zoo Food: A Review

Eryn deliberated very seriously between the Hot Dog and the Grilled Cheese Kid Meal, eventually selecting the Grilled Cheese variety. Judging by the photo below, it's pretty satisfying...lots of cheese to scrape off the bread with your teeth, more french fries than you can handle. Most importantly, it comes with "Fishy Pop."

I chose the Zoo Club, which had bread on the dry side but chipotle mayo that actually a bit of a kick to it. Extra points for giving me chips I could feed to Eryn. I felt ripped off, though, because I didn't get any Fishy Pop.

We did all the usual things, but Eryn discovered new adventures. First, the Sleestack cave. Something mysterious and time-shifty happened while she was in there. Hence the blur.

Then she discovered the delight that is the bamboo barrier designed to keep the free-range birds in their general area.

(Clickable image.)

Jesus and the Supermarket

I saw two bumper stickers yesterday I hadn't seen before. Okay, one was a decal. It was on an overpowered truck (probably had a Hemi) and said "My Other Toy Has Hooters." Combined with the image of Calvin urinating on a competing truck brand logo, another decal declaring that the truck "Hauls Ass," the driver's maniac highway maneuvers, and the cigarette dangling off his lower lip, I believe I have found my soulmate! Sorry, Scooter.

The second was...perplexing. It looked like the "I [Heart] My Cub" stickers that, when spotted on your vehicle last summer (summer before?) could win you an SUV, but it actually said "I [Heart] My Jesus." Now, let's say Jesus was something other than a visionary pacifist who became a hugely famous scapegoat. Does anyone think he'd appreciate being lumped together with a megamarket advertising campaign? And what is the prize for being spotted with an "I [Heart] My Jesus" sticker if he doesn't like it?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wing Sings

South Park (yes, I watch it, what's your point?) this week said it had Special Guest Star Wing! Who's Wing? It's some made up person, right? Wrong.

Click here to hear Wing sing your favorite Carpenters, Beatles, Phantom, and Christmas songs!

Park Monkey

Scooter took Eryn to the park yesterday afternoon while I was gone, so naturally she asked and asked and asked to go again today. (It was my plan, anyway.) Because some four-year-old (whose mother kept telling her to share but never actually enforced the direction) kept control of the big red swing Eryn likes best, she spent most of her time climbing and going down slides.

Climbing was no small feat, as the wind threated to knock her right off her feet:

I had no idea she could climb this (with minimal help):

Or this (with absolutely no help):

We'd been at the park for a little over an hour (with no luck on the red swing, despite several attempts on Eryn's part), and had to go because she was getting hungry and tired. She must have paused two dozen times on the path from the park to the car to wave goodbye to the park.

I hope they don't meet

There are amusing and terrifying lists of stupid things people do while driving, but I saw some new ones yesterday. The first was a woman with a toddler in the back seat - the girl was in a car seat, but it wasn't buckled, and wouldn't do her much good, anyway, considering the scissors with which she was playing. The second was a woman traveling 65 miles an hour on Hwy 100 - convertible top down (it WAS 66 degrees yesterday), with one hand holding her phone to her ear, and the other hand blocking the opposite ear against the noise created by the highway/convertible combination.

Monday, March 21, 2005

It Had To Happen Sooner Or Later

Eryn has made her first official request for a specific toy. We were watching Dora the Explorer together on Nick Jr. when the channel ran an ad for a drawing to win the toy/video combo. Eryn looked at me and said "Mommy, please, have Blue toy!" I told her we needed to sign her up to win one by using the computer, so she immediately went into the computer room and starting banging on the keyboard. After a minute of this, I heard "Huh. Mommy, help!"

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Ring Two

Call it a rental, if you've seen the first one and you're convinced you have to see this one, too. But save yourself the $8.50 it costs to see it in a theater...trust me.

Problems with the movie, without giving away everything (though I am not sure it matters, as it makes little sense, anyway):

(1) How did Samara find Aiden and Rachel again? Can the dead see and hear through all television sets? If so, how come we're never told that?

(2) BORING! Yeah, yeah, people get scared to death, we know that. Oh, look how scared the dead people look!

(3) If Samara wants a mommy who loves her (and won't try to kill her like her real mommy) so much, why does she keep trying to make Rachel (who clearly doesn't want her and keeps trying to kill her) be that mommy?


It didn't help my moviegoing experience that:

- I was the oldest person in the theater by at least ten years
- The seven girls sitting two rows in front of me talked at normal volume throughout the movie
- The girl sitting directly in front of me found some guy halfway through the movie and they made out for the second half of the movie. Ew.

Maybe without the face-sucking teenagers and insipid teenage girl conversation, I would have enjoyed the movie more, but I doubt it. Did I mention it was boring?

Reasons Not To Have A Dog

(1) They crap in your yard.

(2) When it snows, you have to dig a trench through the snow so they can go crap in your yard.

(I did this last night at 10:00 when I got home from the movies. See next post.)

The cat craps in my basement, but at least I don't have to dig her a path to her litter box.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Speaking of Expensive Crap

When it's possible to buy a toddler a $270 terrycloth robe, The Rapture is closer than you think. (thanks, planetdan!)

It also comes in blue or white. No, you don't get all three for $270, but wouldn't that just be a steal?!

If you think $270 is too steep for a two-year-old's robe, you can opt for the small plush horse:

It, too, comes in pink, blue, or white (they match the robes exactly, it's so sweet!), and is a paltry $205.

I think Hermes should join with MasterCard and run this ad:

Plush, huggable horse in blue, pink, or white: $205.

Soft terrycloth robe to match the horse: $270.

Raising an egocentric child who knows money is everything: Priceless.

Expensive Crap, Counter Ladies, and Britney Spears

Last Christmas, my sister and I were comparing perfume choices. Very weird thing for us to do, but I can't help it, it's what happened. I've been wearing Angel for something like three years, and I love it, but it's monstrously expensive, especially if you've quit your job to be a full-time Mom (I figured it out when I discovered how much I like my sister's choice of fragrances: Angel weighs in at around $86/ounce. For comparison, consider that 24k gold generally sits around $400/ounce. Yes, I looked it up.) My sister wears Addict, by Christian Dior. It smells wonderful, too. I figured - Dior, I know that name! I don't know anything about anything in fashion (nor do I care to know), but I know that name, so I bet it's as expensive as my perfume, which is by a designer I'd never heard of before I found Angel (but surely would have if, you know, I knew anything about fashion. Whatever.) I checked. Addict averages around $16/ounce. When my refillable bottle wears out (and I'm sure that it will), I may have to switch. I get that some components of scents are more expensive than others, but geez...

We were talking perfume at Christmas because we have both chosen to stay at home with our kids (her son Max is a year younger than Eryn), and had both told our parents when asked for Christmas gift ideas that we wanted our perfume, because perfumes just seem a very unnecessary luxury on a lowered income. L received her bottle of Addict, and I got a gift card for Marshall Field's, where I can refill my bottle of Angel. (See, that's how they got me. I loved the perfume when I tried it on but expressed absolute shock at the price, and they told me I could actually purchase a refillable bottle, which could be refilled for considerably less than the purchase price of a new bottle. Hence the request for a gift card. My bottle, by the way, holds less than an ounce.)

Anyway. I used my gift card last night and then stopped at the Dior counter on my way out to spray on a quick shot of Addict to see how much I liked it on me (smells nice on my sister, but how does that help me?), and to wear home to see if Scooter liked it on me. It's been so long since I was perfume shopping that I'd forgotten you can't touch a sample bottle in Field's (or presumably anywhere else) without a Counter Lady descending on you. Quickly.

My plan to spray and get out fell apart when some Twenty-Something exuding a cloud of hairspray and perfume so dense I had to avert my eyes asked me if I liked Addict. I said that's why I was trying it--to find out if I liked it on me. She launched into what sounded like a prepared speech about how everybody who tries it likes it, that it smells different on every person (uh, thanks...that's what perfumes do - all of them - they are slightly different on each person because they interact with each body's personal chemistry), and that "people who wear it are always getting asked what they're wearing." (Prepared, yes, but also funny because of how L found it: she asked two women, many months apart, what they were wearing, and it was Addict each time.) She applied sales pressure and I dodged with something that always works because it's polite code for I'm not buying this now: "I wanted to try it and see if my husband likes it." So she picked up a blood red bottle, threatened to spray it at me, and exclaimed that "This one is like that, too! And it's Britney Spears' favorite!!" I coughed and asked if that was supposed to be a selling point. She left me alone then, and I resumed my plan.

I am such a bitch. But at least I'm not a Britney fan.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Chicken Diapers

If I ever get another Jeebus Rug, I'm going to use it to ask that the people responsible for this never know where I live. Or that I exist.

If you're really excited about diapering your birdy friend, or if you can't bear to put it outside but are sick of cleaning chicken crap out of your carpet, here's how to measure for the perfect fit:

Just follow these simple instructions:

"Measure on the back of the bird snugly, as if you are measuring for undergarments. Do NOT add room for feathers. Start from where the wing joins the body (Point A) to where the tail joins the body (Point B), and continue down to the vent (Point C where the droppings come out)."

I hope you got that, because I'm not going to explain it again.

And for you turkeyphiles out there (and you know who you are), the good people who created Chicken Diapers will soon also be offering Turkey Diapers, so you will no longer have to live amongst piles of turkey crap. Hazzah!

I learned a new game today

The instructions are complex:

(1) Take out all the pieces of two animal puzzles and line them up snaking across the living room floor.

(2) Pick up half the animal bowling pins and demand that the other player carry the other half. (I include the link to the pins because other animal-shaped toys may not join the game. Animal bowling pins are necessary equipment. Absolutely no lemurs!)

(3) Run around the line of puzzle pieces while yelling "Spin! Spin!" Instruct other player to do same.

(4) Swap animal pins with other player.

(5) Repeat Step (3).

(6) Drop animal pins on puzzle pieces.

(7) Go down slide.

(8) Repeat Steps (2) - (8).

It might be a drinking game.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Magic Eye Jesus

I got a disappointing letter in the mail last week. I'd have posted about it earlier, but Scooter had to save me from the perils that inhabit our local network (damn firewall thwarted me) so I could get my scanned images of this thing onto the web.

I almost threw the whole thing away without looking at it because the envelope says "TWO HOMES ARE ABOUT TO BE BLESSED...THEN IT MUST GO TO ANOTHER DEAR FRIEND." That always means I'm going to be annoyed by some BS, so I normally chuck the mail. This time, though, I opened it. I know Jeebus must have wanted me to see the lovely portrait of him inside.

WOW! My very own prayer rug. I chose to sacrifice the crown of thorns atop his head in order to preserve the message below as much as possible, because while everyone knows about the thorns, not everyone realizes that Jesus was the inspiration for Magic Eye art. (You probably can't see it, but the instructions at the bottom tell you that when you first look into Jeebus' eyes, you'll see that they're closed, "but as you continue to look you will see His eyes opening and looking back into your eyes.") Wow! Also, many people may not know that if they've been kneeling while praying, all they actually have to do is to touch a Magic Eye image to their knees and imagine the precise amount of money they want to receive, and IT WILL HAPPEN! Really! See? It worked for these people:

I noticed right away that the things for which we are encouraged to ask the Magic Eye for are the very same things about which we are in other places encouraged to call phone psychics (who also, it happens, often take prayer requests), but I tried it anyway. So I know it's all crap because this isn't in my garage yet:

Maybe the P.O. Box in Tulsa that serves as the base for St. Matthew's Churches had a premonition I wouldn't return the prayer rug with a "seed gift," and it decided not to bless me with a new car. Bastard! Ooo, or maybe I only thought I touched it to both knees, when it actually came into physical contact with only one knee. Or maybe it touched first one knee and then the other, and the P.O.box knew I did it wrong! Wait, what if I didn't have knees, and could not, therefore, kneel on the rug or touch it to my knees? Would the P.O. Box discriminate against me? Maybe my seed gift, returned with the prayer rug, somehow activates the Holy Power of the P.O. Box?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Cat Blogging

My daughter is napping, which gives me time to do things like clean up the family room, remove the nasty grime from the ceiling fan, and read news. I intended to blog about something related to the news, as I've been doing so much kidblogging recently. However, as I read the news I am reminded of my reasons for kidblogging: I am having trouble digesting the news. I waded through some GannonGuckert stuff and some things about Hal Turner (I'm not linking to him, he's a jackass, though I will link to Orcinus, who has a nice piece on Turner, terrorism, the Lefkow murders, and recently constructed religions), and now I'm done. I didn't even make it to international news.

I'm going to go clean the cat's litter box. It's less disgusting.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Eryn has a new toy. Well, dwelling. My parents got her a Step 2 playhouse through the ads at Mom's job, and it now resides in about 1/4 of our porch. It's so big it took two trips in a pickup to transfer it from old owner to new owner. (I can stand up straight under the peak of the roof. Yes, I'm short. That's not the point!) After the first trip, we had the smaller walls and the roof. Eryn understood it would eventually be a house and wanted IN. NOW!

She tried to wait patiently for the rest of the pieces to arrive, but it was hard, and she kept running back and forth between the porch and the front windows to look for "Papa and Mana's car":

She also insisted that Scooter should put the house together with what pieces we had:

And then she decided everybody had to get inside. You can see Grandpa Larry's arm in this photo. Daddy and Grandma Geri are also inside, with Eryn patrolling the perimeter to make sure they didn't escape.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Neater Still

Scooter opened my mail. He figured Jones had accidentally sent me two copies of the letter about my lighthouse photo making it onto a soda label. So did I. Instead, it contained an identical letter and different labels. See, look--I really did get a second one:

Jones liked two of my photos...cool! The second one they chose is one I took about four years ago in St. Louis #1 Cemetery in New Orleans.

I couldn't get a clear photo of that label (don't ask me why), but I have the original image:

I will pay attention to when they come out (as much as is possible, as the Jones website is out of date), and do my best to ask people to look only when it's actually possible to find the bottles with my photos.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Meet Chico

I was alerted to his presence by my dog's annoying and incessant barking at the front door. Strangely, Chico was at the back door, looking pathetic and apparently asking to come inside the house. (Sandy's a genius.) He followed me around and then let me look at his tag, so I penned him in the yard and called the Eagan Police to find out where he lives. Easy enough: the police will tell you the dog's name, the street he lives on, his owner's first name, and a home and alternate telephone number. Chico's human came and got him within five minutes. Eryn was annoyed: she kept saying "Chico barking. Chico IN!" Now that he's gone, she's repeating "Chico home, Chico his house," only she blends that last one together so she sounds like she's doing hip hop.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

These Are Not Gibbons

Eryn was sure of it, too, because she said very clearly "No monkey! Monkey gone!"

So she played in the tunnel by the gibbons, flamingoes and ducks for a long, long time:

Then the male gibbon showed up. Eryn named him "Fast Monkey."

She made a new buddy;

got as close to a bear

and a shark as I hope she ever gets;

prepared to earn her college tuition by appearing on Fear Factor;

and finally saw some dolphins.

They weren't as blurry in person.


See, this is why:

(Thorn Spider)

I Don't Have Hubcaps

Well, crap. Good point, Dad. (Dad called to make sure I wasn't going to go get a new wheel before the tire made its intentions about deflating versus staying inflated clear, and pointed out that the Focus actually has no hubcaps. Sigh. He's right.)

Still, the GoodYear guys didn't have to smear sealant gunk all over the wheel (not hubcap) to fix the tire's seal. They also could have:

1) Told me what they were doing
2) Not told me it'd be half an hour if they planned to take 1 1/4 hours to get to it. They must have planned it.
3) Told me without my having to ask what was wrong with my wheel
4) Not told me that aluminum is a "special" kind of metal

Larson's. Remember it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

These Are Not Dolphins

Eryn and I were on our way to the MN Zoo for the 12:00 dolphin show. We had just gone through a Burger King drive through (I had promised both chicken tenders and a dolphin show) when someone in a van next to me gestured wildly at me. It wasn't an obscene gesture, so I lowered my window. The news was a flat tire. Okay, how far can I drive on this? I can't feel any difference in the way my car is handling--it's not even pulling to that side. Not seeing anything nearby, I chanced the two miles back to the new GoodYear at Diffley Square that is about half a mile from my house. (Remember that name: Goodyear, Diffley Square.) I figured if they told me it would take them forever to look at my car, worst case scenario was that I could walk home with Eryn--even if I had to carry her part of the way.

I walk into a nearly empty showroom (one man was there waiting for his wheels to be mounted on his truck) and tell the man behind the counter that I've got a flat tire and a toddler who's been promised the zoo, and can they look at my car in a reasonable amount of time? He says it'll be a while before they can look at it--maybe a whole half hour. Fine, I say. I have juice, Nemo snacks, and a book for Eryn. I'll be bored, but she'll be busy. Half an hour sounds fine, and believable. This is an eight-bay garage with only one vehicle in it, and I can see at least six guys in coveralls out in the shop. An hour and fifteen minutes later, they finally pull my car into the garage. They've got the tire off in no time, and then nothing happens. Well, except this:

Then nothing happens some more. Why don't I ask what's going on? I'll tell you why: because car guys mess with me. So far, they've got my tire off, and they've done nothing else to my car, so there's no way they can come back to me and say that it needed a completely new undercarriage plus Extreme Climate Rustproofing, which it just happens is on special right now, and they've gone ahead and done all that for the low price of $856.42 plus my spleen and Eryn's firstborn child. I let on I'm getting annoyed, and they might mess with me. All they've done is be s-l-o-w. Then, finally, I see a coveralled man putting my tire back on, lowering the car back to ground level, and pulling it out. So I put on Eryn's coat. It's been two hours, and she's read all the letters on all the display tires half a dozen times each, gotten a new diaper, colored an entire issue of HighLights, and watched the news on Headline News rotate through eight times.

But, no. I wait politely for a few minutes for them to tell me my car is ready, but they don't, even though no one else is at the counter. (Several other customers have come and gone in all this time.) Truck Guy, who was saying something 90 minutes earlier to Counter Guy about "Those Illegals are always doing it, I don't get it," is long gone. So I ask. Here's my conversation with Counter Girl:

Me: So, it must just have needed a patch?
CG: He didn't go over it with you?
Me: No one has said anything to me for two hours.
CG: Well, the rim was bent.

[Was bent? Does that mean it's fixed now? No one told me. What's this going to cost?]

Me: Oh. So, what did they do?
CG: I don't know. He knows. [indicating Counter Guy, who is older and male, so he must know what they did]
Me: [Wait. Counter Guy isn't doing anything, but he's not talking to me, either. Then he makes a phone call. ]
CGuy: Jennifer? Your car is done.
Me: Yes. Can you tell me what you did with it, please? [A bit of an edge in my voice now. They've already printed the invoice. I can see it's for only $20.10. That's good, but what the hell?]
CGuy: Well, the rim is bent. [Now it is bent. Not was. Crap. Well, that explains the amount of the bill.]
Me: Yes.
CGuy: So he put some sealant on the tire so it would seal well.
Me: Okay...
CGuy: The rim is bent. [waits] See, so if you look at it, there's this big inward--
Me: I understood "The rim is bent."
CGuy: So he put sealant on it, so it should stay sealed.
Me: But...
CGuy: You must have hit a major pothole really hard.
Me: Um, no.
CGuy: The rim is really bent.
Me: So, all you did was but the tire back on with some sealant?
CGuy: We can't bend the rim back because it's a special kind of metal--aluminum--and it will break or crack.
Me: Okay.
CGuy: We could get you in...[checks schedule]
Me: Wait, what does it need, exactly?
CGuy: We'd have to order the part from Ford.
Me: OR, I could take it to the dealer.
CGuy: Yeah, they could do it. You really hit something. You should have them check the alignment after they replace it.
Me: Just the rim, right?
CGuy: Yeah, you're rim's bent. Maybe you should talk to your insurance company.
Me: You realize no one said anything to me about what they were doing?
CGuy: We can't fix it right now.

Enlightening. I guess my rim is bent.

One would think they'd have come to me after discovering the bent rim and said "Your rim is bent. We can't fix it now, but it needs to be replaced. Would you like us to order you a part?" That would be normal behavior. Instead, they took off the tire, checked it for a leak, noticed the rim, smeared crap on my tire, refit it, and handed me a bill.

So I get Eryn outside, and this is what I find:

Does that tire look properly inflated to you? Okay, it's hard to tell in the photo, but it was almost as flat as when I walked into GoodYear. Trust me: I drove to the gas station across the big parking lot and inflated the tire myself. And why is there crap all over my hubcap now? Here, look:

It wasn't there before. Is that the sealant? Why is it smeared all over the hubcap? I understand why it's on the tire. It's on my tire because my rim is bent.

I'm not going to a Ford dealer. I'm going to Larson's just off Highway 13 in Eagan, because they've never screwed around with me, they charge fair prices, they don't assume I'm stupid because I'm female, and they're so interested in making their customers happy that they charge for 3/4 of an hour's worth of labor for a job that The Book says should take an hour, but that took them, in reality, 3/4 of an hour.

Larson Automotive Service
3955 Cedarview Drive
(651) 454-2020

They're by the Cedarvale Mall with the Grand Slam sports center in it. Use them, they're great.

Oh: I had the camera with me because Eryn and I were going to the zoo--remember? To see dolphins. She was so close to needing a nap by the time I knew my rim was bent that we had to come home. We got inside, and she asked for dolphins. Sigh. I had to find her a picture online and promise we'd go see the real live dolphins tomorrow.

(Look! Dolphins!)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

To get a sense of the emotional impact of the film, imagine this:

The 12 people you care about most are huddled on the ground in front of you. A man pushes the muzzle of a gun against your temple and tells you to choose which life you will purchase with all the money and goods you can get your hands on right now. But at least the soldiers will shoot the rest; if the participants in the political uprising got their hands on them they'd hack them to death with machetes.

Don Cheadle is wonderful as Paul Rusesabagina. The film is riveting. Go see it.

Neater Than I Was

Or maybe that's geekier. Whatever. The deal is, I got a letter from the Jones Soda Co. yesterday telling me I'd had a photo chosen for one of the labels. I'm disappointed it wasn't one of the Eryn pictures I submitted (what a cool thing that would be to save for her!), but it's still very fun that one of my photos will be on bottles. People stranger than I collect those things for the photos, so I contributed something to a collector's item. A weird one, but, cool!

Jones sent me a few labels, but no bottle, and the labeled bottles are randomly distributed throughout the country, so I need help finding some. If you see the label with my photo, please pick up a couple of them for me! I don't think this set of labels is out yet. If I discover when they are, I'll tell everyone. Oh, and the Green Apple Soda printed on the label is just an example--it could be on anything.

The letter.

The label.

The photo.