Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Practice Squad Called Up!

Wednesday morning around 8AM the phone rings. Its my Mom. She is not feeling well and did not want to expose my grandmother and her brother's father-in-law to whatever it was that she was experiencing. Could we hold Thanksgiving at our house? Of course, I said. Thankfully, my parents (with some help from my sister) were still planning to do the bird, potatoes, and stuffing, as they would've done if were at my parents. Everyone else was bringing a vegetable, salad, or dessert. We were still slated to do our sweet potato casserole (tried an awesome new recipe this year), but otherwise, we didn't have to do much, just provide a place to be Thankful together. Well, and we bought plenty of wine and liquor in case any of the less Thankful had to be coerced into conformity. The day went off without a hitch, except that my Mom and Dad weren't here. But, as it turns out, my mother's stomach ailment was appendicitis. The offending organ was removed on Turkey day -- perhaps some non-coincidental act of retribution by a malevolent turkey deity somewhere -- and they had her up and walking that day. She was released from the hospital the next. LuLu's nose running like Niagara Falls and the fear of my mom coughing and sneezing with still healing stomach muscle incisions prevented a visit that weekend. While everyone had a great time, and M and I have thought about the days when we'd host Thanksgiving, I've not yet given my mom a hard time for ducking out of Thanksgiving duties, but at least next year, she'll have to come up with something more creative. Last I heard, you only get one appendix.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
View the rest of the pics.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Supersize Us!

The other night M and I watched (or tried to watch) Supersize Me. M made it through, I fell asleep. A total reversal of roles, but I guess it happens. One part that I did see talked about how even though the food is pretty well-known to be not an integral part of a well-balanced diet (i.e. it isn't real good for you), the Golden Arches can found everywhere including inside some hospitals. I didn't think much of it. As I've never seen them in any of the hospitals I've been in. Another part of the movie that I saw talked about how McDonald's works to ingratiate the youth. Again, I didn't think much of it, I take the kids there once in a while as a special treat but very infrequently and certainly with no regularity. But the two pieces came together on Monday when I took Four to his doctor appointment at DuPont. In the waiting area, there is a train table that the kids love to play with. And there in bright yellow and red is a fully McDonald's train. One of the experts in the documentary called this "brand imprinting for later actuation in life." Another compared the 10,000 ad and marketing exposures that children face to the roughly 1,000 opportunities for the family that eats every meal together to encourage healthy eating habits. Good Luck!

Fly Eagles Fly!

As an early Christmas present, my sister treated me to my first visit to the Linc. With some help from the Birds, the visit was extra special as the Eagles improved their record to a league best 9-1 by trouncing the Redskins 28-6. (Sorry Russ.) It was a great game and we had a great time. Jess and I may have been two of the loudest in the crowd and although we couldn't have been much further from the field, I like to think that we played an integral part in the victory. Andy Reid was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying, "I give a lot of credit to our fans. They did a great job with the noise level in that stadium. It was tough for Washington to hear, particularly when they were down there at the 10-yard line." So, Thanks Jess, and Andy, you're welcome!

In a related story, M took the kids to her p's for the game. Her brother, his wife, and 13 month baby were there also to take in the game and have dinner. Her brother had taught his daughter to raise her arms like the refs whenever the Eagles score a touchdown. I didn't see it, but apparently its pretty cute. Today, LuLu was yelling, "Tutz...Down!"

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Price of Admission

It's Not the High Cost of Living...It's the Cost of Living High.
No, no. Not that kind of high.
You may have read that we bought a mini-van. Well, one day last week I was talking to some neighbors about missing a neighborhood party the same day we took delivery of the van. I was sick and had lost my voice. I was telling them how frustrating it was to not be able to appropriately voice my frustration about the vehicle not being ready after we signed the papers, and we ended up waiting and waiting and waiting with both kids and no car as we had just signed over our Explorer. More on that later. One of the ladies asks, "Oh what did you get? The Volvo?" Apparently, the XC90 is becoming the vehicle of choice for the well-to-do stay-at-home moms in the hood. I replied that there are already too many of those in our neighborhood, that we needed more room than the XC90 offered, and that my tree-hugging background just wouldn't allow me to buy a smaller vehicle that ate more fuel. I just found it funny that she made the assumption that we had bought the status sled.

In a related story, I was at the mall one day. I found myself in Nordstrom buying shoes for LuLu at the annual Women and Childrens Sale. This very-well dressed customer ended up helping me match some shoes to an outfit I had previously purchased at Janie and Jack. After we had found something adorable and were coincidently paying at the same time, she turns to me and says, "I noticed that you had a Janie and Jack bag. Is that boutique in the mall?" I told her yes and that I had gone a bit overboard and that most of it was probably going back. I further told her that it was a shame that their sizing stopped at 4T and that I couldn't shop for my son there any more. She says, "I just hate when they outgrow the boutiques." She must have used the word "boutique" about 5 times in our brief conversation. It struck me odd, as if she could only shop in a store exclusive enough to be called a boutique.

These experiences underscore this epidemic of affluenza running rampant across our society. I, too, fall prey to the ever-present marketing and merchandising that bombards our daily experience, but I try to temper it somewhat by putting on the brakes when I can. I often remind myself of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Koy Detmer who does the bulk of his wardrobe shopping at Target and rapper/actor Ice Cube's passion for bulk shopping. And then there are the words of singer/songwriter Jack Johnson:

         Look at all those fancy clothes,
But these could keep us warm just like those.
And what about your soul? Is it cold?
Is it straight from the mold, and ready to be sold?

And cars and phones and diamond rings,
Bling, bling, because those are only removable things.
And what about your mind? Does it shine?
Are there things that concern you, more than your time?

Gone, the wind.
Gone, everything.
Gone, don’t give a damn.
Gone, be the birds, when they don’t wanna sing.
Gone, people, all awkward with their things,

Look at you, out to make a deal.
You try to be appealing, but you lose your appeal.
And what about those shoes you’re in today?
They’ll do no good, on the bridges you burnt along the way.

Are you willing to sell, anything?
Gone, with your head.
Leave your footprints,
And we’ll shame them with our words.
Gone, people, all careful and consumed.

Gone, gone, gone, everything.
Gone, don’t give a damn.
Gone, be the birds, when they don’t wanna sing.
Gone, people, all awkward with their things, Gone.

Just something I think about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Click Elmo!

M was surfing the pbskids.org site with LuLu and Four the other night. Four was driving the mouse, and at one point, Liv starts and keeps saying, "Click Elmo, Click Elmo, Click Elmo..." It's amazing how much she is speaking and understanding. Tonight I was running around with the kids on my back -- one at a time of course -- and after each of Four's turns LuLu would say, "I want my turn." Not quite that clear but I am too tired at this hour to think about the more realistic phonetic spelling.

Back on 11/8 (as captured in my planner) the icemaker dropped some ice into the bin while we were eating lunch. Four asked (as he does for just about any noise in the house), "What was that?" LuLu answers, "Iish. Iish."

Again playing catch up, several nights ago Four came into our room in the middle of the night. M asks, "What is it?" Four replies, "I just have to tell Daddy a joke." Walks around to my side of the bed. "Daddy, you better check your ears -- bunny ears." And with that, he turns and marches right back to bed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


For some time now, I have been asking Four, "Capisce?" (italian for "Understand") when discussing things and trying to gauge his listening and understanding. We've coached him to answer, "Capisce." when he gets it. Yesterday, I was speaking to LuLu about some behavior type thing, now I don't even remember what it was, but I asked her, "Do you understand?" She replied, "Aah-peesh." I was floored by her ability to put the two together. She's at such a fun age in terms of both physical and language development.

Well, most of the time it's fun. Tonight at dinner, she kept saying, "I don't want that" before she even got in her chair. Then, she was excused early after she and her brother kept saying "Yucky" after I had worked to make a pretty nice meal. They didn't really mean it, they just got a bit out of control. Four actually did quite well, eating raw leaf spinach and enjoying it.

The Deed is Done

We did it. We bought a van. A mini-van. But you know what it's not so bad. It's actually quite nice. It came down to the Toyota and the Honda because they were the only ones that offered Electronic Stability Control (membership required). Why ESC (or VSC or VSA or whatever acronym the various manufacturers are using)? According to Money magazine:

 Toyota found that electronic stability control reduced single-vehicle crashes in Japan by a remarkable 35% and head-on crashes by 30%. And in the European study, Mercedes-Benz, whose lineup has sported ESC as a standard feature since 1999, reported a 29% drop in single-vehicle accidents; crashes of all types fell 15%. Those kinds of results could prevent as many as 6,000 of the nearly 43,000 crash-related deaths each year in the U.S.--dramatically more than air bags, which have saved about 800 lives annually since 1987, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

So although the two vehicles command a bit of a premium over their domestic counterparts, we justified the purchase based on the thinking behind the old joke, "What's funny about safety?" "Nothing." Additionally, the two Japanese models have historically held their resale value better than the domestics. In fact, comparing Edmunds.com True Cost to OwnSM values for earlier model years, the Honda, despite higher initial sticker price, had the lowest TCOSM values.

Between the two finalists, the Honda drives more like a sport sedan, while the Toyota drove more like a plush Cadillac -- nice just not my thing. So we went with the Odyssey. The 25 extra horses in the Honda didn't hurt either. The kids love it, and it's what works for us right now. As far as the mini-van stigma, I've decided that I didn't need to have so much of my identity wrapped up in what I drive.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from Peter Pan and Tinkerbell!