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Friday, March 27, 2009

Pesky Little Brother

When I married Doug, I was aware that he was the youngest of five, with one older brother and three older sisters. It didn’t occur to me that I was marrying the little brother. The pesky little brother.

I’ve seen this phenomenon many times with my own children. Cole doesn’t receive enough attention from his older sister, so he uses annoyance tactics to get her undivided, albeit raging mad, attention.

“Alex! You love so and so…(fill in the blank with any boy’s name, works best with those she complains about most). You want to kiss him! You want to marry him!”

Only repeat that 56 more times and you have one completely irritated sister who is willing to chase her little brother to engage in a good battle. (This is, of course, Cole’s goal -- to be chased and to have it end in a wrestling match.)

But what happens to the little brother when he grows up and gets married? Apparently, he turns into Doug.

Don’t get me wrong. I love him with all my heart. But it occurred to me, as he continued to snap gum in my ear the other morning(knowing full well this is one of my greatest peeves), that my husband suffers from little brother syndrome. The clues?

 Consistently repeats a particularly annoying behavior only to get a rise out of me.
 Attempts to wrestle, despite the absence of aggression in the target.

How do I resolve this? Here we have a fairly aggressive, testosterone-laden youngest boy of five siblings, married to a fairly passive, testosterone-deficient only child?

Okay, don’t answer that. Get my nose out of books and computers and give him some undivided attention, right? I will, unless I have to stop Alex from beating up Cole.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Celebration!

It's spring. Yahoo! And reasons to celebrate just keep multiplying...

1. The Twilight DVD arrived three days before the release date. And Amazon gave me some sort of $5 discount. Yahoo! Doug explains the phenomenon by pointing out the frequency of purchases from my favorite web-retailer.
2. Coldplay decided to surprise me for my 40th birthday by playing at the Qwest in June! Yahoo! Do you suppose Chris Martin will be singing happy birthday to me?
3. My newest book club friends decided to read one of my suggestions – Snowflower and the Secret Fan. Yahoo! I hope they like it and don’t kick me out of the group.
4. Flowers are popping out of the ground. Yahoo! I can’t even kill them yet.
5. It’s Sunday afternoon and I haven’t had a headache since early yesterday morning. Yahoo. Knock, knock, knock on wood.
6. Jim Zimmerman won a customer service award at the Chamber Banquet Friday night. Yahoo! Denise Reinig won last year – the Shelby County State Bank has a pretty good run going.
7. After taking a personality test, it turns out that all four of us Kramers are INTROVERTED! Who'da thought? Yahoo!
8. Mom, aka Rubi J has the most adorable new line of organic cotton T's. Yahoo! Watch for some upcoming deals...
8. Flash, my hamster, I mean Cole's hamster is still alive and seems to be growing into a big, fat guinea pig! Yahoo! He’s so cute. Wait speaking of Flash…

It was brought to my attention that Flash receives more blogging time than my very own father. So, here goes. Dad, you’re the best. You’re funny and look way younger than your 62 (?) years of age. I’m so proud of all the motorcycles you have rebuilt and hope someday I’ll be able to rebuild a 1934 JD Indian Panhead, just like you.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Girl with the 12 Scarves

We finally did it. My friend Amy and I finally completed a girl's night out with our daughters! It's been in the making for possibly over a year now...As we suspected, it was quite fun.

When Confessions of a Shopaholic came to the Harlan Theatre, we saw it as a sign that the time had come for female bonding. Amy, being a recovered shopaholic herself, was very interested in the subject matter. (Only joking, Amy.) But as I watched the mindless and entertaining show, something didn't feel right. That "something" continued to gnaw at me, growing in the pit of my stomach as I giggled through a few of the scenes. Then the movie came to an end. We stood up and as soon as I caught sight of my daughter's big, beautiful brown eyes, I understood the source of my uneasiness.

It could be my daughter -- the shopaholic who carelessly racks up an exorbitant credit card bill for unaffordable fashion and dodges credit collectors. That could be my Alex. The protagonist was also known as "the girl with the green scarf." Out of curiousity, I snuck into Alex's closet to see how many scarves she's accumulated in her short 11 years. I found 12. (I'm sure there's more since she tends to stick her belongings in various nucks and crannies throughout the house.) Then I went to my closet. I found two. One was a gift from a friend at Christmas (thanks Annette for the lovely scarf from Dubai which can also be found at Odd+Ends) and the other might have been a relic from high school. I decided it was time to have a little chat with Alex.

"Al, I need to tell you my thoughts on the movie the other night. While I enjoyed the show, I didn't agree that they portrayed the debt collector as a bad guy. If you can't afford something, you simply shouldn't buy it. The debt collector was merely doing his job and 'the girl with the green scarf' was shirking responsibility. It wasn't right."

"Oh, Mom. You're a banker. Of course you think that way."

This comment left me speechless, and a little bit perturbed. Luckily, Doug heard the comment. Fortunately, he wasn't speechless and immediately gave Alex a tongue-lashing that left her speechless.

Apparently, spendthrifty Alex has a few lessons to learn, but I think some progress has been made. Yesterday, she picked out her Easter dress, at 40% off and didn't beg for accessories or shoes. Perhaps she just gonna have to make do. With one of her twelve scarves...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dear Cole....What Women Want

Before we had kids, my husband would say he didn’t care whether we had boys or girls, but if we had one of each, he hoped that the boy wouldn’t have an older sister. (I hope this doesn’t offend Doug’s three older sisters…) God works in mysterious ways; we were blessed with a daughter and a son, in that order. In my opinion, though, it will help Cole to understand women better. You know, make him a better man!

Yesterday, the family took a shopping trip to Oak View. This time, instead of torturing each other, we decided to split up. The girls went one way and the boys went the other. It was really kind of fun. Last night, as Doug and I were debriefing for the evening, we told me a bit of the father/son bonding time he had...After a a stop at Sears and a trip to GameStop, the boys decided to grab some ice cream at the food court. Their conversation?

Cole: "This is so weird. It’s not the end of the shopping day and I got something already. Usually I have to wait til we’re all done shopping in the girls’ stores.”

Doug: “You should probably stay home with me when the girls go shopping. It’s no fun for you.”

Cole: (Thoughtful on this point.) “That’s a tough one, Dad. If I stay home, there’s a good chance I won’t get anything at all.”

So, Cole has learned that if he is patient enough with females, he'll receive a gift eventually. (He obviously doesn't remember when we buy clothes for him during our trips.)
The other night, we were having a conversation about baseball, since Cole is signed up to play in the “minors” this year. Cole asked his Dad how many baseball trophies he had. I decided to answer for Doug (his mouth must have been full?). “Dad had a nice big trophy in the old house -- an MVP for some tournament. But I think I broke it when I was dusting one day.”

Doug clarified, “Actually, I had lots of baseball trophies.”

Cole looked at Doug with the wonder a son holds for his father, “Really?? What happened to them?" Then Cole was quiet a moment and asked him quietly, "Did Mom break those too?”

Women. We're either shopping or breaking trophies. What'a boy to do?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Last night I finished the final book in the Twilight series. Now I can get on with my life. Or can I? Suddenly I find myself comparing the love of my life (a.k.a. Doug) to Edward, the most perfectly romantic vampire to grace the fiction world. There's a few differences. (My friend Amy told her husband, "You really do many of the same things as Edward, but, Honey, you're just not a vampire..."

As I read the series, a few scenes made me wonder about the appropriateness of having Alex (my 11-year old girl) read the novels. (She finished the series a few weeks ago, so it was too late anyway.) Overall, though, I think the good outweighed the bad. Hopefully she has learned this: Hold out for someone who is incredibly attractive, insanely intelligent, very cultured, exerts tremendous willpower, and most of all, someone who will compose a ballad for her. Once she finds an Edward with all of these qualities and abilities, she will have my blessing.

I'm not sure she'll obtain her father's blessing though. Vampire or not.

Okay, my next few blogs will have focus on Cole. I've had some very entertaining conversations that I'll simply have to share soon. What a strange little mind he has. TTFN.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Brushing up (and down) on Vocabulary

I got a new dictionary today. Vocabulary and Etymology (not to be confused by Entomology, or the study of insects) have always intrigued me. It never fails to amaze me how many words completely escape my knowledge. In any given day, the Wall Street Journal will give me at least five reasons to consult a dictionary. (My old college dictionary has failed me a few times, so I’m excited to test my new one.)

In attempt to expand my limited word usage, I subscribe to Anu Garg's “Word-A-Day” blog. This past week’s postings included words that were not only interesting, but fun to pronounce. I’ve been trying to incorporate the words into my own personal lexicon.

“Doug, my Dear, how can you be so contumacious about listening to Coldplay’s new album? I thought we were coevals and you disparage them to the point of making me lachrymose,” I say in the peripatetic conversation as he obstreperously criticizes the most outstanding artist to frequent our airwaves since U2.

Right. Like that conversation really happened. Here’s a more realistic depiction.

“Let’s listen to Coldplay.”

“Coldplay sucks.”

“I think they’re awesome. Their music is so interesting to me.”

“Not to me. Turn it.”

I sigh.

Do any of you ever get caught on using a vocabulary word because you don’t want to sound self-important? (I originally used the word 'erudite' for 'self-important'.) My daughter has been questioning me on simple vocabulary words lately – the same girl who has scored 99 in vocabulary on her Iowa Basic Skills Test for the past two years.

“Are you trying to sound dumb, Alex?”

The astonished look on her face gave her away – I had nailed it. (I confessed that I, too, have been in her shoes.) So, the next time she asks me the definition of something as simple as “gullible,” she will be asked to provide me with three obscure synonyms for the word.

Oh, Alex! It’s the curse of having a geek for a mother. But I simply won't allow her expanded vocabulary be the curse of her own self.

My smart little girl...