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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blame it on the snow (and therefore Christmas music playing in our house), but Zach started singing “Santa Clause is coming to town” this morning. His version goes like this: “Santa…to town. Santa…to town. Santa…to town.” I said, “Zachary, are you saying ‘Santa Clause is coming to town?’” (I sang it to him). He enthusiastically responded, “Yeah, yeah! Santa come to town. Santa come to town.”

As if totally offended by the inappropriateness of it all, Matthew chastised Zachary, “No! Zachy, it’s not Christmas. Santa Clause is NOT coming to town.” Well, bah hum-bug. Matthew sure didn’t complain when it snowed last week, we listened to Christmas music and drank hot cocoa!

Mike chimed in, “Well, no. Santa’s not coming to town for a while, but Zach’s birthday IS coming to town.” Zach jumped on that right away, “Birthday…to town. Birthday come to town. Presents come to town. Presents to town.”

Matthew has already announced that Zach should get Legos for his birthday and that he will, of course, share them with his older brother. (As if Matthew shares his with ZJ. Yeah right). The one gift I KNOW Matthew would not insist on playing with/using is stickers. Zachary currently LOVES stickers. Meanwhile, Matthew has developed a serious aversion to them. It’s almost a phobia, really. If the checker at the grocery store asks the boys if they want stickers, Matthew practically shouts, “No! I don’t like stickers.” I remind him to be polite so then he says, “No, thank you. I don’t like stickers.”

The other day there was a sticker on the floor of our car – it was an ancient sticker that I’m sure had lost all sticky-power. I asked Matthew to pick something up off of the floor that happened to be in the same vicinity as said-sticker. He recoiled in disgust. “No! I can’t. It’s too close to the sticker. I might touch it!”

I did some Google-research on the topic and discovered that some refer to this as “stickerophobia,” though there was reference to something called “panniophobia” which also means ‘fear of stickers.’ I think there’s a good chance that some one made up this term in response to the question, “is there a name for a phobia of stickers?” And then people saw this panniophobia and since it sounded fancier and more ‘scientific’ than stickerophobia, they ran with it. Anyway, whatever it may be called, I did find that Matthew is not alone in this fear, though it appears there are no established support groups for this that suffer from this debilitating ailment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mother Nature has been so confused ‘round these parts lately; I think she’s suffering from some sort of personality disorder. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had a couple of weekends that included every possible weather system – sun, rain, wind, hail and snow. The last weekend when it snowed I heard probably four different people bellyaching about the weather: “I was so depressed when I woke up to snow this morning” or “I almost started to cry when I saw the forecast.” All I can say is carpe diem, peeps! In the Martin household snow is a magical, fantastical event. On Sunday morning, Matthew flew into our room saying, “Mom! Dad! Quick! Come see! It’s snowing! It’s….[intake of happy, ecstatic breath]…it’s a winter wonderland.” He says this last bit in a quiet voice of respect and awe. And, as if it’s Christmas morning, I throw the covers off the bed and go running down the hall to watch the magic unfolding around us.

Yes, I’ll admit that sunshine is nice. When we had that one day of about 75 degrees (remember that one?), I certainly didn’t complain. Quite frankly, it felt lovely. (I’m practicing for my future days of sitting on a porch in a rocker and shooting the sh— discussing nothing but the weather). It is springtime, after all. Matthew and I are waiting patiently to actually start our vegetable garden. So far, we’ve gardened…dirt. And it’s doing quite well, I might add.

Right, so if we had ‘normal’ spring weather, I wouldn’t complain just like I can’t complain about the wonky weather. All I can do is find the sudden hailstorms and snow totally amusing. And, while it doesn’t take much of an excuse here, snow is a perfectly acceptable reason to put on the Christmas music and have hot cocoa.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Can you still be a business owner without a business? Today is the first day of my music class at the Boys and Girls’ Club…or it would have been my first day. I stopped by the club on Monday to drop off copies of my business license (to show I’m all legal and legit and stuff) and to find out how many students were signed up on-line. TWO. 2. TWO were signed up for 30 spots. woohoo. There were a few things that went wrong here: first of all, it’s a hard time of year to be starting up a class/activity. We’re getting towards the end of the school year, so most people are winding down busy activities OR they’re signing up for new stuff – but more likely classes that’ll take the kids outside (swimming, soccer, etc.). Also, the club didn’t allow that much time for the fliers to go out before we were to start the class. AND I don’t have any clientele base up there – no fan club like I do down here. Word-of-mouth is the best way to get students and until I have an actual class things’ll start small. I knew that it would start small; I just didn’t foresee the class not actually happening as a possibility.

I’ve seen the decline in interest in my own class at home. Most of my “regulars” wanted to take this upcoming session off to do other things. So, for the first time ever (since starting the class three years ago!), I’m cancelling class since it would just be too small to make it worth it.

I went from way too much on my plate to nothing on my plate! This is a very strange feeling for me and I’m not sure how to handle it! I was so stressed about having the two days of classes, and I how I would balance that with the boys, etc. And now it’s not an issue at all! I’m OK with that. I’ll just have to use this time to find prospective students up in Bellevue. I’ll stalk the toddler parks and use my own musical prodigy children as bait.

We had our priest friend, Father Steve, over for dinner the other night. When I told him about the whole music class snaffoo, he said, “Jenny, this is God’s way of telling you that you need to relax! Take a break, sit on your butt, eat bon-bons and watch soaps.” Hey, if it’s coming from the mouth of a priest, I have no choice but to obey, right?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

You know how you spend much of your life trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? What you’re truly meant to do? What your calling in life is? Well, for the last year or so, I feel as though I’ve been heading in the write direction. (Yeah, sorry, that was intentional. Did you catch that?) Well, a couple of weeks ago I was given the opportunity to try out a different occupation – and, no, I don’t mean as Snack and Chip Advocate or Commercial Sound-bite Professional. I was presented with the chance to try out my skills as a Crime Fighter.

So, as you know, I run three mornings a week, at 6am, with my neighbor, and now therapist, Andrea. (Let’s face it: she listens to me talk for three hours every week, she should be making serious money. And yet, she only gets paid with my admiration and undying love). ‘Twas a Monday morning and I set out, as always, at 5:55, to walk up the street towards Andrea’s house. (We meet somewhere in the middle depending on who left their home first). As I rounded the bend in the road, I saw a Dude clad in black hooded sweatshirt trying really, really, REALLY hard to open the driver’s seat of a red sports car parked on the street. The following thoughts rapidly flew through my brain: hmmm, I’m fairly certain that the owner of the car (and resident of that home) is of a different racial persuasion than Hooded Sweatshirt Dude. Hmm, It’s sure taking him a LONG time to get into that car…wait a second, yeah, that’s not his car. Dude is trying to steal that car! Bad Dude! Then I notice that Dude is not alone. Dude has Girlfriend sitting in a running small silver car with the headlights lighting up his work space. Again, lots and lots of quick thoughts run through my head. I tried to remember all of the things those articles in Runner’s World and where-ever-else told me about what to do in this situation. (A situation when you’re by yourself outside and there’s a Bad-seeming Dude).

I quickly crossed to the other side of the road and continued walking up the street staring at him like a lunatic. (I think there was something about looking crazy…maybe). He startled when he saw me and immediately stopped fiddling with the lock. He looked so guilty; it would have been comical (had I not been so busy trying to keep me heart from jumping out of my chest and, of course, maintaining bladder control).

“GOOD MORNING!” I yelled in a very loud and extremely cheery way, all the while staring him down with eyes that said, ‘yeah, I see you Dude. I knows what you doin.’ (It helps to talk like a thug in your head).

“Uh, uh, hi,” Dude stutters. “How…how’s it going?” Trying to act so cool, huh, Dude? I’m on to you. I’m so on to you, and your little Girlfriend who’s too scared to even look at me. Or maybe she’s just too busy glaring at you: See, Dude, I TOLD you we shouldn’t have waited until 6am to try to steal a car!

I strutted by with an air of complete machoness. I totally took in his appearance, her appearance, the car she was in and the house’s address. I was so on top of things. I kept walking feigning nonchalance. Once I got past them a little bit, I saw Andrea a few houses up the street, walking towards me. I continued my nonchalance in a subtle yet Olympic Athlete speed, speed-walk. As I neared Andrea, I reached for my cell phone (that I keep in the pocket of my nerdy-and-yet-oh-so-Safety-First! Reflective vest). It wasn’t there. Of course! The day that I commence my career as a suburban neighborhood Crime Fighting Mommy Machine, I don’t have the most important safety device of all – a phone. [I do, however, carry a very loud whistle that came with some of my instruments for music class. I’m not sure how or when I’ll put the whistle to use. I told Andrea about in the context of, “Never fear – should you be attacked by a vicious canine, I will save the day by blowing my whistle.” Andrea’s response was something like, “Um, yeah. Then ALL the dogs in the neighborhood will come running. GREAT idea.”].

When I got close enough for Andrea to hear me, I said, “Turn around. Turn around. Walk back towards your house. Turn around. We need to call the police.” Andrea shot a nervous look at me. “No, no. It’s OK. Let’s just get to your driveway. I think someone’s trying to steal a car.” At this point, I hear Dude and Girlfriend take off in their car – as in NOT the stolen one because I totally BUSTED them.

So, Andrea dials 9-1-1 and is relaying all of my details to the operator when she realizes things would be a heck of a lot easier if she just handed the phone to me. She’d gotten all of the basics out of the way, so the first thing that the operator asks me is, “And what was the license plate of their car?” Um. Oops. Damn. There goes my crime fighting career down the crapper. I was SO proud of myself for getting all the other details – I could still tell you what they looked like…and the house number. (As if they’re just going to sit there in front of the house waiting for the police to show up).

Better luck next time.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Fool’s Day/Happy Birthday, Dad! (They go hand-in-hand, not that they are at all related).

So, Friday, I did it. I managed to talk for four hours straight about food. And I was quite surprised, that by the end of the afternoon – I had a sore throat and was hoarse! I’m apparently a little rusty and should have worked up gradually to that kind of stamina-driven performance.

I thought the whole experience was fascinating and fun. The interviewer was very impressive. He would ask me a question (everything from “could you please describe the lifestyle of your family” to “what do you look for in a snack”), I’d give a brilliant-I’m-sure answer and then he’d immediately ask another question perfectly pertaining to my previous answer. For FOUR STRAIGHT HOURS. We had a couple of breaks in the monotony. I gave them a tour of the pantry and the fridge. (He had me explain how I compare ingredients and health facts on the boxes/bags of food in addition to why I bought certain brands/products). And then we took a field trip down to the grocery store. (And yes, the camera didn’t accompany us for that part). By that point in the afternoon, I still wasn’t totally sure what the whole thing was about or what they were looking for, so I just went ahead and supplied him with a nonstop commentary while we walked up and down the aisles of Safeway. It was kind of like when I was in therapy – I made his job pretty easy. Although, thinking back, I realize all the ridiculously pointless facts that I supplied for him. (“I prefer this string cheese to this one because of…” “See, I only buy that when it’s on sale…”). When I was done with my store tour, he took me back to the snack aisle and asked several questions about packaging.

A couple of times during the interview, when he asked about different chips, I said, “if this is for Flat Earth – you guys scored ‘cuz I LOVE those chips. They’re the only ones that I buy on a fairly regular basis.” Which is completely true and it turned out, yep, the study was for Flat Earth.

When we got back to the house, they took CHEESY still shots of me putting away my groceries and holding up my 1st grade art collage. He loved the added creativity of the Diet Pepsi can hanging off the bottom. And it turns out, Frito-Lay (makers of Flat Earth) also own Diet Pepsi. I was their dream girl.

We went back to the living room where the best – yet most painful – part of the interview took place. He brought out four different bags (and flavors) of the chips and basically had me perform a taste-test. It was painfully awkward as I heard myself say things like, “mmm…mmmhmmm…this chip is, well, it’s very approachable and not at all standoffish.” Did I seriously just say that? On camera?? And about a chip??? He asked questions like “what kind of emotions do you feel when you first open the bag?” “How do you like the bag design of this one versus that one?” (They all have a different background scene).

The whole time that I interviewed, Mike had done an exceptional job of keeping the boys quiet and out-of-the-picture (literally). But when the boys saw mommy sitting on the couch with four bags of open chips around her they were like “enough already! Let me at her!” Zach came and ate a chip. (I quietly reminded him: “Look at the camera and smile. Work it. Here’s your big break.”).

In the end, I received my fat payment for my time AND four bags of Flat Earth “veggie crisps”…which I highly recommend. (No, they’re not paying me to support their product….well, they did pay me but I’m not on commission). Apparently, they’re very approachable and not at all standoffish.