Showing posts from October, 2009

There but for the grace . . .

The morning I left Oklahoma, I stopped at a gas station near Oklahoma City. I had to fill the rental car because otherwise I think they make you hand over a kidney when you attempt to turn it in half-empty. As I got out of the car, I saw a guy approaching me from my left. He got out of a car that was parked on the other side of the gas pump. He looked to be in his mid-20s and was wearing black pants and a grey jacket. "Hi," he started. "We're trying to get home to Texas and we just need some money for a pump for the car." He told me what kind of pump he needed but I can't recall. A water pump? Fuel pump? I looked over at the car. I'm not into cars but I think it was a 1980-something Mustang. It seemed plausible that it could, indeed, need all sorts of parts. The guy held up a driver's license and pointed back at the car. "This is my wife's Texas driver's license, just so you know this isn't a scam or anything. That's my w

Maybe you can go home again

My vacation has drawn to a close. "The Girl Trip," as my daughter called it. Ten days of mother-daughter togetherness which were, believe it or not, downright relaxing. And Oklahoma, it's definitely growing on me . . . if only they'd do something about the wind, for crap's sake. It took me a while to adjust to the idea of my parents living somewhere other than Northern Virginia. I'm like a cat - don't even move the couch an inch or I'll have a panic attack. You'll recall that I whipped up a fair amount of angst over their decision to leave the old house and move to Oklahoma. I still have the old house key on my keyring. I cannot bring myself to remove it. Slowly but surely, though, I've adjusted to the change. This vacation was generally very relaxing. I found time to write. I finished one book ( Izzy and Lenore by Jon Katz) and tucked into another ( The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion). I took a lot of long baths, closing my eyes a

Hey ya

I know you have been thinking to yourself, "Self, I wonder what Claudia has been listening to lately?" I love fall because that's when a lot of artists release new stuff. When critics start cranking out their "best of the year" lists in December, they are more likely to remember music they just heard in September or October. My wee baby sister ( Red Earth Redhead ) and I are thinking of starting our own music blog. We might call it Red Alabaster. Or Alabaster Red. Or, "We'd rather eat glass than listen to Lady Gaga." It's catchy, no? One album I was really excited to hear this month was the newly released "Know Better Learn Faster" by Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. I loved their last album, "We Brave Bee Stings and All." I can't find a video, but here is a cut called "When We Swam." I'm also excited about the new stuff coming out from Vampire Weekend. This song, "Horchata," grows on me more each

I don't like you anymore!

She doesn't like me anymore, apparently My mom (whom we are visiting) has five cats: Earl, Perry, Sally, Wilfred, and Heinz. (I know, I know - the woman is spending my inheritance on Fancy Feast and scratching posts.) Heinz, the newest addition, is a blondish-orangish kitten born on my sister's hobby farm. Although I keep telling my daughter that we are dog people, she is fascinated by and enamored with kitties. We do have a cat at our house as well, but Ella Fitzkitty has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to children. Of the five cats, two are pettable. Sally will bite and Earl will scratch. Earl will let you pet him, but only on certain areas of his body (I learned that the hard wa y when we visited last year, though the scar on my hand did eventually fade). I've instructed the kid not to touch him at all. Perry has an advanced degree in hiding, so we don't see him much. That leaves Heinz and Wilfred. Wilfred is very sweet and welcomes the attention. But here'

Well, this is irritating

A magazine called "Parenting" started showing up in my mailbox about a year ago. I have no idea why, in as much as I did not order it. I usually just flip through it while I'm eating dinner. It's actually a pretty decent little publication; I've just drifted away from parenting magazines because I've already kept my kid alive for 4 1/2 years and most such mags address infant-related issues such as "when to start solid foods." This little gem in the October edition caught my eye, though: MOM DEBATE Is it cruel to make your preschooler follow a vegetarian diet? YES 63% NO 37% This has to be the most skewed survey I have ever seen. The majority of the population eats meat so gee, do ya think the majority of respondents are also carnivores? The yesses said things like, "I think it is ridiculous to do this to a child." So, let me get this straight. I am supposed to prepare meat for my child even though I don't eat meat myself? Not only would

Is it still a vacation if you brought a 4-year-old along?

Day three of the vacation! The flights out to Oklahoma were mostly uneventful. The most challenging part was hauling two suitcases, a car seat, and a carry-on, a feat which is not possible in one trip. Several times I had to abandon one suitcase momentarily - I feared the Homeland Security or TSA people would haul me off in handcuffs at any moment. We needed to catch the shuttle from the long-term parking to the terminal, and I thought maybe the shuttle bus driver would help me with the luggage. She was on the phone (and showed no signs of getting off), so a fellow traveler took pity on me. The kid's Spongebob carry-on is a duffel bag on wheels, so she gamely pulled it across parking lots and airports. I only yelled at her twice. She had the window seat and could not stop pulling the shade up and then slamming it down. I threatened her with time-out, though I really don't think an airplane has any time-out corners to speak of. I think she knew that as well. When we got to Oklah

Oh, Oklahoma

The kid and I are headed to Oklahoma (motto: "it's just like where you live, but flatter") tomorrow. As usual, I am looking forward to the time off but dreading the actual travel because my curly-haired traveling companion doesn't listen worth a shit. I just don't know any nicer way to say that. She likes to run backwards through security checkpoints we've already cleared. Fling herself at donut stands and snack vending machines. Skip into the men's restroom. Fun stuff like that. Once I get through through three airports and the rental car adventure, not to mention the joy of hauling two suitcases, a car seat, and a Spongebob Squarepants carry-on, I'll be in serious need of a drink. But good luck finding one in Oklahoma. I guess they've got the whole "bible belt" thing going on there. I'm not a beer drinker myself but I pity those who are because in many outlets (grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.) the much-maligned "three-

Parent-Teacher Conference

Apparently those are whiskers and not a big, hideous spider I participated in my first parent-teacher conference Tuesday afternoon. As I sat on the wee molded plastic chair outside the classroom and waited for the 4K teacher, I looked at all the painted apple projects on the wall and noticed that my child's was downright unremarkable. Just a sea of red paint arranged in a vaguely circular shape. "Underachiever," I muttered under my breath. A few minutes later, it was my turn. I felt oddly nervous, as this was the first time I've ever received feedback about my child from a (mostly) objective source. A's been at Kindercare since she was three but I pay them to take care of her so it's not quite the same. First, Mrs. M showed me a self-portrait my daughter had created in class. The marker drawing was of a purple and red stick figure with four appendages coming straight out of her head. No torso. This signifies a bit of a regression, because she had actually begu

And the wiener is . . .

Drumroll please . . . Okay, this was tough, mes amis. At first, I was a wee bit discouraged because I thought my blog visitors would be all, "Hey, a free thing! I pledge my undying allegiance to the Alabaster Mom blog!" and express some unbridled enthusiasm over the prospect of enjoying some garlicky Italian goodness. Instead, there were a lot of crickets chirping and shoulders shrugging and, "Meh. No thanks." Plus, it seems the many Buca di Beppo locations do not necessarily align with where people actually reside. Nonetheless, it was tres amusante having lots of people stop by and leave me witty comments. The top contenders were: Elizabeth , because she came so very close to bringing a tear to my eye. I miss my Pop. Lisa H , because she was so darned enthusiastic. Lisa Y , because she succeeded in leaving me with a random fact that caused me to tilt my head like a dog. It also made me think of the way my husband pronounces ca-shew with the accent on the second syl

Buca di Beppo Gift Card Giveaway!

I've been gaining some new readers lately, which is very gratifying. I've done some reading on the topic of optimizing one's blog, and one oft-used suggestion is to have a giveaway of some type. "No," I always think to myself with a self-satisfied shake of my head. "I will not cheapen my blog like that. I want people to come on by because they like my writing." Or because they find me incredibly witty and unmistakably modest. Or they think I have the cutest kid they've ever seen, bar none. Or they are stalking me and need to gather just a bit more personal information before showing up at my workplace with a machete. I've also noticed that some of the blogs that receive heavy traffic are also very confessional (TMI) in nature. I think harboring a few secrets is healthy, so I'll continue to keep some things to myself, thankyouveddymuch. I'm also keenly aware that I don't really have a reliable shtick on which to hang my blogger hat. I

My Daughters (With and Without Fur)

So, Gretchen failed obedience class (Pre-Novice) again. You'll remember the debacle from last time. An over-achiever she ain't. I guess I shouldn't say she failed the class. She simply didn't get a high enough score on the final evaluation to pass into the next class (Novice). I mean, sure, she's a loser any way you slice it, but she did show some improvement. This time around Gretchen forgot what the word "stay" means even though we've been working on it for six months. She did do an almost picture-perfect finish after the recall, though. I'll give her props for that. Anyway, yes, we are going to take the class for the third time. I have not given up on my goal of putting some titles on that dog whether she wants them or not. I try to remind myself that I just adopted her in March and that we haven't been working on this stuff since puppyhood. But still . . . forgetting to stay, Gretchie? How could ya? As for my furless daughter,

Back on the wagon

I've been attending Weight Watchers meetings for over four years now and guess what? I'm not cured. There is no panacea, it seems. It's the original definition of "uphill battle." I held my goal weight from December 2008 through September 2009. Last time I weighed in, on September 5th, I squeaked by with .2 pounds to spare. I can be two pounds over my goal weight and still be considered at goal, but technically I was already 1.8 pounds over when I stood on the scale last month. In other words, I was already tumbling down the mountain. Four days after that date, all hell broke loose at work and our team was sliced in half. I gained four pounds that week. Then I got sick. What's that saying: feed a cold, starve a fever? Or is it the other way around? I eat either way, just to be on the safe side. I've continued to go to aerobics and make a half-assed attempt to count my points, but I also succumbed to a "homemade cookie" day at work. I believe I wo

The Lowdown

I have the plague, so I'll keep this brief and spare you the deets. Okay, it could just be a run-of-the-mill cold, but I've been a snot factory for a solid week now. I feel pretty. I also had another allergic reaction today, albeit a mild one. The culprit was a tortilla (for those of you keeping score at home). I picked up a temporary foster dog named Coach. I'm holding him for a few days because Coach's foster dad is in the USMC Reserves and had to do jarhead stuff this weekend. This pooch is only nine months old but is causing a fair amount of tension in our home. He has a thing for me. He's all over me like a cheap suit. It goes without saying that I am a pretty hot ticket, but he is just taking it to an extreme. When one of my own dogs approaches me, Coach tries to keep said dog away. I, in turn, ignore him. Unrequited love doesn't deter him at all - he just tries that much harder. I gave the sermon at church today, and I actually think it was moderately