Taking Charge...Literally

I enjoy jewelry when I remember to put some on, but I've rarely bothered to actually bring jewelry along when traveling. I finally found a way to repurpose the travel jewelry case my grandmother gave me years ago.

The contents?
1. cellphone wall charging cord
2. cellphone earpiece wall charging cord
3. camera battery recharger & cord
4. camera download cord
5. iPod download cord

Which doesn't include what's already in the car:
6. cellphone car charging cord
7. iPod car/wall charging cord (the only two-in-one on the list!)
8. portable 1 GB USB flashdrive

Can I live for 5 days without all of these cords? Sure. If I don't expect to use any of the items that they support.

The phone is for safety and coordinating with friends, the camera for recording the fun moments we'll have together, and the iPod for sanity during the 14 hours of driving I'll do. And I know I could pare them down, but every time I do that, I regret not bringing a certain one.

I know, I know. Our parents pulled over and used a payphone if they needed to and listened to the radio or sang songs. They survived without taking hundreds of digital pictures each year. Even
I remember rationing my shots/rolls of film on childhood vacations.

But life has changed, and I don't mind all that much. I like the convenience of my digital tools and toys. And I have gadgety, techie proclivities.

What I want is for someone to invent a truly universal charging system. A surface that I simply lay any of my portable electronic devices on that will charge them up while they sit there without proprietary batteries and cords cluttering up my life.

Aside: As I write this, I'm half watching NOVA's Ape Genius while I tape it for possible classroom use. Recently chimps in the wild have been witnessed fashioning spears and hunting smaller mammals, our DNA is over 99% identical, blah blah, the narrator reminds us that "in a very short time humans have gone from" living a chimp-like lifestyle to industrialization "so it is only a matter of time before" chimps are complaining about the number of charging cords they have to drag around the forest. Oh, sorry, that last thought was mine.

Riddle of the Day: (Scene from Ape Genius.) A peanut is placed at the bottom of a foot long clear plastic tube strapped vertically to the inside of the bars of a chimp's enclosure. There are no stick-like tools at all available for getting the peanut in the bare bones enclosure and the tube cannot be unstrapped or flipped over. How do you get the peanut?

Answer to be posted when I return from the road trip.

Road Trip

Tomorrow we hit the road, our destination 7 hours away. The car is loaded with pack 'n play, stroller, suitcase, diaper bag, and all manner of snacks. There's a crate holding car toys and destination toys as we'll be visiting some toddler-less homes. Turtle likes to look out the windows and zone out in the car, to jam to music in the carseat, and to read books as he sits. He sleeps well on a drive, too. But 7 hours? each way? I fear what could happen if I can't keep him occupied. So, we've borrowed a toy "laptop" and a portable DVD player and some kiddie DVDs just in case. 

Wish us luck!


Easy-Make Oven

Pictured above is a play kitchen, featuring life-like and cool retro styled appliances that are only $250 or so each, available at your local retail indulged child outlet. Don't get me wrong. They are beautiful pieces, nicer than what's in my own kitchen, despite their non-functionality. And I would have been very excited to play with them as a child. Who's kidding? They'd be fun to play with now. But, isn't it scary that you can take that same $250 and purchase a real live working oven or fridge?

After searching a bit online and flagging some less expensive play kitchen items for my son, it dawned on me that I could just make him a play kitchen. Having moved a few months ago, we've got our share of perfectly sized cardboard boxes. And I faintly remember that a long time ago I used to be a creative and crafty person who enjoyed doing just this sort of thing. That's before I allowed workaholicism and then new motherhood to take their toll.

So, I squirreled away materials for a few weeks. Then my mom coincidentally gave Turtle a set of toy pots, pans, and cooking utensils. Inspiration finally struck and, box cutter and packing tape in hand, I created my masterpiece.

Notable features: 4 red hot burners, see through oven door with velcro closure, pull out basket pantry below.

Accessories: Pantry items such as box of rice, can of beans, carton of milk, and oatmeal canister made from the real thing emptied & cleaned.

Tooting my own horn some more: Cut triangles out of picture on frozen pizza box to make slices of pizza, made realistic looking pancakes out of scrapbooking paper and cardboard, folded edges of silver coated cardboard inserts from ?? packaging from something I can't remember ?? to make cookie sheets/griddles.

Coming soon: Utensil holders made of toilet paper rolls glued to the side. And a sink/pantry unit and refrigerator.

This is fun! Turtle already loves it and has been making carrot soup in his stockpot and hot water in his teapot for what he calls "eatmeal" (oatmeal), and is trying to learn to flip pancakes with his mini spatula. The only downside is the lack of sturdiness factor, but the upside is that when he loses interest, it can be torn down and recycled.

Meanwhile, it's nice to know that when we move into our new house in a month, at least one of us will have a really nice kitchen!


Be Mine!

My friend Casey wrote an anti-Valentines post on her blog Redneck Mother and I posted the following comment:

I didn't plan anything special at all. Then I pick up my son from daycare
to find that he has valentine cards and bags of treats in his cubby
purportedly from his classmates and that one mom brought cupcakes for
everyone. These children are less than 2 years old. They don't need the
sugar high or the straight to landfill plastic goodies and they don't
understand what the cards are for.

But what really bothered me was my instant reaction of mommy guilt that I
hadn't also brought valentines for his classmates to reciprocate, that I
didn't know that was the social convention even this young, that I am
probably perceived as the mom who never does anything special for the other
kids but just receives the treats that all the other moms prepare. I can't
believe I'm dealing with this crap already!!!

How do you buck convention without harming your child socially? It doesn't
matter now- but it will when he's in 3rd grade.

She was kind enough to bring my comment to the forefront to foster discussion.  This is something that I can see myself really struggling with over the years, so I'm all ears.  Casey is a free-thinking eco-friendly Texan (yes, they exist).  Her 9 and 4 year old boys and her garden thrive on free-range learning (homeschooling) and organic compost, respectively.  If anyone can help me with this, she and her network can.  I'll be checking in on Casey's blog for responses.  

BTW, the custom goth candy heart is courtesy of cryptogram.com.
Have fun!


So They Shan't Remain Nameless

It’s time for pseudonyms!

My almost 2 year old son will henceforth be referred to as “Turtle” in honor of the turtle riding toy he was pushing backwards at full speed when he did his concrete faceplant. Note to him: next time, let go of the handle on your way down.

You might think it’s creepy for me to name him after the toy that broke his nose, but he loves that toy and has fearlessly (forgetfully?) returned to speeding around with it. Plus, I’ve had some pretty cool times with other turtles, so there’s a lot of positive associations there.

In keeping with that tradition, I’d have to name my husband after one of the many “toys” he’s broken bones on over the years. But, CBR 1000, NT650, Ski Doo, and skull-of-some-other-guy-in-a-mud-football-game don’t really have a great ring to them. Plus there’s more than that to choose from. I just can’t keep track anymore. 

So, we’ll try “Backtire”, a nickname bestowed on him by his motorcycle buddies in honor of his insatiable need to speed around with the least number of wheels touching the ground as possible.

The apple clearly does not fall far from the tree.


Sure, I'll Have Another Glass...

The last two weeks of my life have been consumed by drama and can only be summarized as follows:

My son broke his nose and we’re in escrow. 

Needless to say, the pantry is several bottles of wine short.


Holding my baby boy in a headlock with all of my might while he screams as the pediatrician probes the inside of his freshly broken nose. He managed to get in a few kicks to the poor doc’s groin. It still doesn’t make it even.

Offer/counteroffer madness results in 4- day neglect of grocery shopping which leads inevitably to toddler eating cereal for dinner and playing alone while adults intensely discuss the negotiations at hand. He only interrupts important Mommy & Daddy business once- to request peas. 


Nose is healing symmetrically with no internal damage.  So, he'll still be as cute as ever.  

The new house has hardwood floors, the better to toilet train over.  


Incontinent Truth

Apparently, a former colleague of mine sent out a mass email to her co-workers asking if anyone had seen her copy of Incontinent Truth.  

You know, that political propaganda piece with the slick graphics that came out last year.  The one that shocked a nation into the realization that we are on an undeniable road toward losing control of our bladders.  The one that tried to convince us that each and every American can make a difference by doing Kegels daily.  Everyone knows that movie was funded by the adult diaper industry.

Someone in Hollywood needs to get ahold of this idea.  It will be the next great parody, in the tradition of Store Wars, Spinal Tap, Spaceballs, and Top Secret!.  (Yes, I know how to punctuate.  It has a ! in the title.)  

In all seriousness, I loved Inconvenient Truth and am glad it did so well. Despite any of its flaws and the resulting criticism, Al Gore, et al. achieved something that none of the rest of us have been able to do.  He created a green tipping point.  It's now cool to be concerned about climate change. Oprah is on board.  So, is Wal-Mart (although I'll still never shop there). More Joe & Jane Publics than ever before are curious about the environment and thinking about the future.  

Sure, there's a lot of focus on CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) and organic shampoo and not enough on the manufacturing and transportation chains that lines the shelves of every megastore with them.  But, it's a start. Good things will come of this.

Meanwhile, what parodies have you enjoyed?  How did Inconvenient Truth impact you?