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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Gap Generation

I took the day off today with the intention of spending the day with Doug before he went to the field. Too late. He's in the field. So, instead of heading back to work, I decided to pay homage to the recently deceased Donald Fisher, also known as the founder of The Gap. He obviously was smiling down from heaven because I hit a jackpot of sales AND the sales associate let me use a coupon one day's no wonder I love that place.

I decided to scorn my daughter's critique of my lifeless wardrobe and bought jeans and t-shirts. My favorites. It felt kind of like...coming home. I heard a radio commentator recognize Gap as the company that "democratized style." It brought khakis to the masses. It turned the white t-shirt into sexy. It's because of Gap that I have a hoodie addiction.

Gap was born in 1969, as was I. It's no wonder that Gen Xers share some sort of spiritual textile connection to the brand. Gap epitomizes my generation. Simple. Smart. Neutral at the core, with only an occasional need to splash some color.

Okay, enough philosophizing. On to another riveting anecdote from today...

I also went to Borders...and I walked out without one, single purchase. As I roamed, somewhat lamely looking for a business book, I noticed how many of the displayed novels I have sitting at home, waiting to be read. What's wrong with me? Sure, I love to read. But why do I just keep buying books I don't have time for? When I got home, I counted them. 16. I have sixteen books waiting to be read. (That doesn't include the two books sitting in the living room, which I have started.) So my new resolution? No purchases until everything on my shelf has been read. (Not sure if this resolution includes Kindle purchases yet...)

Anyway, my day was heavenly, despite the absence of my hubby. And the tears that eked out as I spied tiny leg warmers and a matching scarf at Baby Gap. The tears quickly dried as a young mother chased her toddler through the store, reminding me that it's not all about dressing up the baby. Almost all. But not all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Hamsters, Part Two

So, Alex goes to let Flash out for the evening. She looks up at me, "Uh, the hamster door has been open. We must not have closed it last night."

Guess where Flash was?

Sitting nicely in his cage.

Before you think, "How pathetic. Blogging about hamsters on a Saturday night. Didn't she blog about the hamster last night as well?", let me explain. I've been sick all day. No voice. Splitting headache. Hardly any energy to get this cough out. At least I enjoyed a view of the beautiful sky from my couch. Speaking of laying on the couch...

I promise that my next few postings won't involve Flash. Unless, of course, he does something more amazing than my father, whom is due some limelight soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On Hamsters

I’ve blogged on Cousins and Friends this week. So to wrap up the series, I’ve decided to post a few thoughts on hamsters.

The Kramer family evening routine typically involves letting Flash out of his cage while we unwind for the evening. (Hamsters are nocturnal, so as we unwind, he is gearing up for an eventful night life.) As most of you know, hamsters typically travel by roller balls, or they get eaten by cracks, refrigerator undergrounds, open doorways and heating vents. Last night, as Flash sped off to explore the house, we were enthralled in an engaging little flick called “Ghost Town.” The little tinkling sounds of spit-up gerbil food and hamster poopie are pretty much white noise to us as we hear it every night. Anyway, as the show neared the end, a neon static orb on the floor caught my attention. The roller ball. Door busted open. I glanced at Flash’s digs to see if somehow I missed his return home. But no! The cage door was wide open. Flash was gone.

“Uh, anyone holding Flash?” I inquire, knowing full-well that the kids have been ignoring my subtle suggestions to tickle Flash and find his laugh.

Kids fly up. Lights go on. A frantic search begins. As we whirlwind to begin checking the usual places like the laundry baskets, toilets, under beds, we are pleasantly surprised to find Flash sitting under our end table. Apparently, he was enthralled by the movie as well. So, without the usual fuss, Flash was safely placed back into his cage and given a bit of banana for his good behavior.

So. We love our senile dog. We like to watch our flighty cats hiss at each other. But what would we do without the little rat who sleeps most of his life in a little cage in our living room? It’s now been over a year and he’s still kicking. He might be the ugliest hamster we ever owned. But he is certainly the most loyal. Or lazy. Either way, he fits right in.

Next week....on grandpa's.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On Friends

While I like my job, every once in awhile I get the Sunday night blues. You know, that sinking feeling that you didn't get enough time with your family? That tomorrow it's back to another chaotic work week? Well, I've got a sure cure.

Monday nights have officially been declared GNO. Of course, it took a good excuse, like our daughters' dance class, to make it happen. But the point is, it's officially scheduled on each of our calendars.

The first night was a simple dinner at the China Pan. And even though two of us had to bring some ancillary kids along (including a boy! My boy, in fact), it was heavenly. We ate yummy rice and talked. I got to hold a baby. We got to laugh about stuff that doesn't make our hubbies laugh. We got to cry about stuff that doesn't make our hubbies cry. (Maybe an exaggeration...) And we got to explore a few of our dreams without being smacked back into reality by a pragmatic male voice.

This week we did the Chinese thing again, then ventured to see Julie and Julia, eat super-buttery popcorn and chew on extremely fresh Milk Duds. (No kidding!) As I watched the movie (for a second time I must admit) , I whispered to Amy, "Look at that orange roaster of Julia's? Isn't it the cutest thing ever?" She smiled and admitted, "I have one of those." "You do?" I gasped. "I'll have to check it out next time I'm over."

Now, what guy would or could connect at the roaster level? Maybe a few. I don't even cook, but I love the idea of cooking. I could certainly fantasize about creating Julia beef burg-in-yawn (SP???). Get what I'm saying? It's the sharing of idealistic visions that connects us girl-friends. Right? Right!

Next Monday night? Pedicures...I hope the giggles and dreaming will obviate the pain of my callus removal...we better dream big.

On Cousins

As an only child, my cousins gave me the only semblance of any sort of sibling relationship. I was particularly close to Timbra, who was only a few months my younger.

Timbra was athletic, free-spirited and brave. Contrast this to a timid, clumsy rule-follower. She'd convince me to leave my Barbies to play outside. Usually, the coaxing had something to do with chasing me with a snake. But at least she forced me to get a little fresh air. If I convinced her to stay inside to play house, she'd change up the story line by adding a rabid dog or wild mustang. Undoubtedly, we had our differences. And there lies the beauty.

I could voice my opinion to her and she, of course, could beat me up. (She didn't usually do this. I only remember one sucker-punch in the gut during a father-arranged boxing match.) But we could be ourselves, knowing full-well we wouldn't damage our friendship. Because we were cousins. No matter how she riled me, I'd always love her.

Now, I can see the power of cousins with our own children.

Alex can share secrets, talk boys (I think she does this, but Al is not divulging) and go shopping with her dear cousin Mikayla.
Cole can talk video games and learn to boy-fight with this three older cousins, Dillon, Denny and Mitch. Yesterday he had the chance to hang out with them. Apparently, Dillon (a senior in high school) taught Cole a few tips in football. When Cole had fallen at one time, with a fairly extensive injury according to Cole, Dillon helped him to deal. "Get up. You got to be tough in football." (My hubby would've told him the same thing, but the lesson would've been futile with his mother rushing to the side of her son.)

Cousins are great. They provide a safe outlet from your everyday friends and a highly-desired retreat your immediate family.

Here's one of my first cousin Trent, teaching Alex a few riffs on the guitar.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seeing the World through Their Eyes

So last night I'm taking a walk with Alex and Cole and the sunset is stunning - an incredible mosaic of color and clouds. I point out the majestic scene to the kids.

"Isn't it beautiful?" I say. Then to keep our topic from roaming to Batman or Halloween I add, "What do you guys see in those clouds?"

They are quiet, so I offer my first stab at the Rorschach test, "I see alligators. See the snouts?"

Cole sees something more delicate. "I see birds."

"Birds are nice, Coley!" Yes, I see the birds now and they are much prettier than the alligators.

Then Alex creates the prettiest picture of all, "I think they look like angels. See how their faces are gliding through the sky?"

Ahh! I see the ethereal beings floating through the sky. But there's just one that looks..."Hey, do you guys see that one straight ahead? Doesn't it look like she's got a huge butt?"

Of course, this stems laughter. Then Alex corrects me, "Actually, I see it as a pretty pregnant angel laying on her back."

The girl finds beauty in everything. She used to collect candy wrappers, enamored by anything with foil and color. She takes pictures of things like spilled flour next to cookie dough or a book laying on the floor.

Ah, the girl undoubtedly has a good eye. As for me? I only spot scary reptiles and big butts.
Photos like this often pop up in my camera...compliments of Alex.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Yellow. Look outside, what do you see? Yellow. I love yellow, but it's starting to depress me. Yellow grass. Yellow fields. Yellow weeds in ditches. Yellow sunflowers.

I went into my closet and what did I see? Yellow. I keep buying yellow shirts. I just bought a yellow (mustard really) purse. I even noticed a pair of yellow shoes on my shoe rack today. What does yellow signify? I looked up "yellow" in my handy resource tool, Wikipedia, and found out that

"Yellow echoes the dual nature of red. Though yellow evokes feelings of happiness, when we are confronted with too much yellow we become annoyed or angered. Yellow typically symbolizes sunlight, joy, happiness, earth, optimism, intelligence, idealism, wealth (gold), summer, hope, air, liberalism..." eventually these words turned into "cowardice, dishonestly, yada yada yada..."

So perhaps I'm suffering from just a bit of yellow overload and need a break...but wait not yet...the Hawks only lead by 14 to 3 at halftime...I think I can handle the color for a teensie bit longer.

Speaking of yellow. And ugly. Have I ever shared a glimpse of our long-tongued transient tomcat we call Shrek? He's a beaut. And if I had any doubt about being a cat whisperer, he's my proof. I've got the feral monster eating out of my hand. Literally.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy as a Best Buy Employee

The other day we needed to spend Cole's gift cards at Best Buy. Truthfully it's not my favorite store, but I was amused and somewhat inspired!

(Let me preface, that we arrived a few minutes for 10:00 AM and there was already a line-up --many parents with kids carrying gift cards.) Now, back to my observation. Have you ever noticed how much joy the Best Buy employees carry while working? (Apparently, you need to be a college boy to have any future there.) It's quite contagious. While I impatiently waited for Cole to select a new DS game, a staff member came up to us full of vigor. Now, the guy reminded me of someone who could've walked straight out of a Seth Rogen movie...speaking with a lisp and all. But it was within minutes this guy had me completely excited about the new Lego Batman game for the WII. I found myself eyebrows raised, goofish smile and nodding with unyielding approval. Yes! Batman Lego for the WII. It's genius!

Anyway, the experience made me rethink my somber, taciturn nature. Yes, that's the real me. But it doesn't have to be. I like what I do. I just need to be happier about it.

Joy. That's my new mantra. I bet they won't even recognize me at the Bank. Anytime I feel the cynicism begin to creep into my soul, I'll quickly exit and find the nearest Best Buy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mr. Clean? NOT!

I'm going to try an experiment -- go all day without wiping my mouth once.

Cole is now eight years old. At any one point of the day, you can find brown crustaceans surrounding his mouth, a colorful (preferably orange, blue, red or green) mustache, and usually one or two big sticky spots of who-knows-what on his cheek. A quick glance at Cole makes my Mom-spit reflectively burst to the roof of my mouth, ready to leap to my best scrubbing finger.

I asked him how he could stand to have all that food, eating away on his skin. He just ran away, most likely fearing the suggestion of a completely hose-down, aka, a shower.

There's no doubt in my mind that hygiene is not innate. But at what point does a child realize they stink? While Alex has certainly gotten better, we still do our fair share of reminding.

Anyone? Does anyone have thoughts on this? Please don't comment that your child requests to have baths daily and washes their hands before and after every meal.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Catching up on Birthday Cake, Motorcycles and Art

Wow. Has it really been two weeks since I blogged? Admittedly, when fighting migraines, cutting off my head takes priority to writing. Sorry for the visual. But my head feels wonderful! Here is a quick summary of recent events:

* Cole turned 8 on the day Doug and I celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary! Again, aging preoccupies my shallow mind.
* Cole's birthday party was quite a success, puke et. al.
* The Kramer's, sans Cole, have gained 5 pounds since all of the August celebrations. Next time, I will NOT order a cake for 30 people. (Cole only had five guests).
* School is in full swing and with no one playing soccer, so it's been a sort of a non-event.
* Finished reading one of my favorite books of all time...The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. See review on other blog. Or wait to talk to me because this will be one book I will bother you about until you read.
* Made annual trip to Davenport (biggest motorcycle SWAP meet of the year)...Cole now has a Harley Hummer. I'm the only one in the family that eyes this piece of machinery as the devil.
*Made a trip to the Figge Art Museum. Is it possible to favor BOTH American Regionalism and Parisian Modernism? Think Grant Wood versus Henri Matisse. Well, I suppose it's possible for the unrefined, like me.
*Last, but not least. Flash the Hamster has survived nearly ONE YEAR! I hope I'm not cursing the darling little rat.

TTFN...that's Tigger's pre-texting lingo for Ta Ta For Now.