Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A picture's worth a thousand words.

So that means a video's worth, what, a million words?

In that case, I am totally overachieving this week.

First, the cast of characters - I thought I'd do a test run at videotaping all three of us before I got to the meat of the explanation. After all, I'm sitting in a chair, holding two kids and using one arm to take a video with my cell phone camera. I figured I should do a test run. I decided to ask the DragonMonkey a few questions showing off how cute he is and how he says "Nonope" instead of "oatmeal".

Instead, I got a video of a two-year-old who spits and says oatmeal perfectly clear. Ah, such is life.

And now for the explanation:

Anyways, I'm off to go drag my tired carcass into bed. I'll leave you with a photo from this weekend - Guess who I got to meet?


Thursday, May 26, 2011


Hey, you all remember Cotton and Rocky right?

I mean, who can forget Rocky?



Triple Droooool.

Anyways, my friend Bunnygal really liked the way Rocky's first filly was turning out, so last year she bred him again (I can hear the voice of Fugly in my head, so I'd like to point out that Rocky is 9 and this is only his second foal) and last Sunday Cotton foaled a pretty little bay (Bay roan? Who really knows until they shed out?) filly.

And since we all love baby pictures, enjoy the cuteness!

Pardon the bloodiness on the above photos, but the filly was less than an hour old.

She got cuter by the next morning, although she still had that "just escaped from the womb" look.

.....and it's naptime.

So, there you go. Your cuteness quota should be met for the day. You're welcome.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Contaminated BREASTS

Ring, Ring.

With a sigh, I take a pause from the email I'm writing and pick up my work phone.

"Thank you for calling, this is Becky speaking. How may I help you?"

"Your breasts are contaminated."

There's a beat of silence, as I try to figure out if I just heard what I think I just heard.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"This is your mom. Your breasts are contaminated."

For a brief moment, I get a creepy mental image of "the girls" combined with radiation leaks and food poisoning. Gross.

"Ummm. Okay?.... Uhh... Mom, can you explain, please?" I'd be more concerned, but the reality is that my mom is the Queen of Hyperbole.

"Well, it's germ transference 101... you have a cold, so when you use your BREASTpump, the NIPPLE shields are touching your BREASTS and the milk at the same time, so the germs go from your NIPPLES and your BREASTS into the milk."

Oh. My. Gaaawd. How many times can this woman fit the words "breasts" and/or "nipples" into one sentence? I feel dirty just listening to it.

"Mom, I don't think it works like that."

"No, your germs are probably all over it. It's on the bag, and it's probably contaminating the bags it's touching. We should throw it away."

Nuh-uh. I don't care if I covered that bag in the Ebola virus - I pumped 10.5 ounces yesterday. We are NOT throwing it away!

"Mom, it's fine. The baby already has my cold. And besides, the milk has antibodies in it - you specifically want to give him that milk right now."

"But it's covered in germs." Germs, toxins, bacteria, AIDS virus, airborne anthrax - they all creep my mom out on the same level.

"It's fine, mom. There aren't any germs, and even if there were, it doesn't matter. Like I said, he's already sick."

"But how long will the germs live? You're sick, and when you used your BREASTpump, it was touching all of your BREAST and even though the milk is only coming out of your NIPPLES, the entire plastic was touching your BREAST so it's all contaminated."

Good Lord... I need a brain toothbrush.

"Mom, it's fine. He already has my cold, so he can't get sick again. Besides, even if it did work like that - and it doesn't - it's just a cold."

"But what if the germs contaminate the rest of your freezer stash? I don't want to have to deal with him having a cold again. What if I pull that bag out a couple of months from now and he gets sick again? I'm not willing to take that chance."

Crap, she's starting to get that stubborn tone to her voice. If I don't think of something soon, she's gonna chuck a 10.5 baggie of liquid gold down the drain because she's scared it's "contaminated"... even though he already has my cold and can never get it again. Crap, crap, crap.

"But I put it in the freezer," I say, making something up off the top of my head. "The drastic change in temperature works as an antiseptic and kills any germs that might have survived contact with the sterile environment of the bag. They can't survive the exposure to the icy air - it's more effective than bleach." My argument makes no sense whatsoever, but I pepper it with words like "sterile" and "antiseptic" to make it sound official. I specifically use "bleach" because I'm pretty sure bleach is my mom's Happy Spot. Clean, white, recently bleached things seem to soothe her.

"Well, I guess..." she sounds semi-convinced. "But he's not eating very well right now."

"Mom, I told you I nursed him at 7 and he ate really well. He shouldn't be hungry until 10 or 11."

"But he ate again at eight," she says, as if presenting solid proof that my contaminated milk is systematically destroying the Squidgelet.

"He ate at eight? Right after I left?"

"He woke up crying," she says defensively.

"Okay, but you're saying that he ate heavily at 7, and then you fed him again at 8? And now you're feeding him again at 10, and you're worried that he's not eating a lot?"

In the back of my mind I see all those hard hours of pumping just draining away....

"Yeah, I guess you're right. He probably isn't that hungry. So you think the milk is okay? It's not contaminated by your BREASTS?"

From the sound of her voice I can tell she's envisioning radioactive, puss-covered skin crawling with germs. Nice. Now I feel REALLY sexy.

"No, mom. I'm fine. The milk is fine. I've got to get back to work now."



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lazy Summer Evenings

The Bean and I are in the middle of our intricate just-got-home-hi-honey-hug-kiss-cook-dinner-put-kids-to-bed dance.

It’s a noisy, complex dance with nightly showings.

The DragonMonkey runs laps in our house, chasing the dog and squealing with excitement.

Bad Max skitters around the corners, claws tick-ticking on the wood, tongue flapping out the corner of his mouth as he narrowly evades being tackled by a two year old.

Fun! Family! Run! Fun! Run! Run! With a dog as simple as Max, it's not hard to read his thoughts.

"Hahahahahaha! Run! Run! Doggie! More run!" DragonMonkey screams with laughter at the top of his voice.

There's a reason he and Max are best friends.

The Squidgelet whines softly from his swing, fighting sleep.

I push past the Bean through the narrow doorway into the kitchen, both of us having to flatten ourselves against the walls for there to be enough room.

"No running, Max. DragonMonkey, leave the dog alone. Sweetie, can you pull out some chicken out of the freezer? Max, no running. DragonMonkey, STOP. Hi, Babe, how was your day?"

"Busy," mumbles the Bean, reaching arm-deep in the freezer, fumbling around for a bag of chicken.

“Hey, I was hoping to go to the gym tomorrow before --- DragonMonkey, please get down – before work. You don’t have to --- MAMA SAID GET DOWN. ONE… TWO… Thank you. --- You don’t have to leave early tomorrow, do you?”

“No, we should be--- DRAGONMONKEY, BE NICE TO THE CAT --- We should be good. Here’s the chicken.”

Squidgelet’s whines increased in volume.

I toss the still-frozen chicken into some warm water to defrost (oh no! bacteria! Toxic mold! Death! Whatever.) and push past the Bean again as I go to get the Squidgelet.

“Shhh. Shhhh.” I try to avoid nursing him to sleep as it’s a bad habit to fall into, but some nights you just do what you can to survive.

“Hahahahahah! MORE RUN! MORE RUN!” Max and DragonMonkey barrel past me in another noisy loop in the house.

“NO RUNNING!” I bellow, jolting Squidgelet awake. The corner of his lips twist down as if pulled by strings. “Shhh, shhhh! It’s okay!” I try to murmur into his ears, but it’s too late – I’ve thoroughly scared him.


I jiggle him in what I hope is a soothing manner, making shushing noises in his ears. “It’s okay, it’s okay. Shhh, shhh…. Mama wasn’t hollering at you.”

Tick, tick, tick, skitter, Tick, tick, Pant, pant, pant. Max careens past me for a third time.


“NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE!” I yell, startling the poor Squidgelet into a fresh burst of crying.

I miss living on the dude ranch.

I miss lazy, quiet evenings with dusty rays of sun dancing through the pines, turning the whole world gold. I miss the sight of horses munching contentedly in the pasture below me, occasionally stomping a fly and snorting out hay dust.

I love my kids, but I miss the sweet scent of horse and alfalfa mixing with the wild fragrance of pine needles. If I were there, I’d be kicking my legs up on the front porch, ankles crossed as I balanced on the railing. The wind would be blowing down off the hill, passing through the trees with creaking moan that never failed to make me shiver, soul contented.


“Uh-oh!” the Dragonmonkey calls out. Cheerfully. “Mama! Mama! Uh-oh!”



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Super Cool... Just So Super Cool

Today was a long day.

I needed a laugh.

Even though I've seen this commercial before, it still got the job done.

So, here you go:


Friday, May 13, 2011

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall....

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall...

Who's the trashiest of them all?




I went wedding dress shopping with a friend the other day. I was late getting out of work, so by the time I screeched to a halt in front of my house, threw the kids into their carseats loving placed my children into the car, dropped the DragonMonkey off at the sitters and arrived after driving through evening traffic, I was pretty frazzled.

The Squidgelet was howling with hunger by the time I pulled up to the first boutique.
Thankfully, I'd planned ahead. While my work shirt wasn't very nursing friendly I'd brought along a nursing tank top. I burst into the door with my howling infant and asked a startled employee where the dressing room was.

When I laid the Squid down on the ground to change into my tank top, it sounded like I was setting him on fire, completely drowning out the peaceful instrumental music they had piped over the speakers.

Oh, well... it was wedding dress shop. Pretty much everyone in there was either married or planning on getting married, and odds were that they'd probably end up pregnant at some point. I was just doing them a favor by preparing them for the reality, right?


After changing as fast as I could I popped the Squid onto nurse, covered up politely with a nursing cover, and then went to go paw through overly-expensive dresses.

Unfortunately, while I may have been discreetly covering up, the Squid didn't really get the memo. It was way past his meal time, and he was slurping it up and going to town.

And by slurping I mean SLUUUUUUUUURPING. You could hear him gulping and sucking from ten feet away. Forget the discreet little nursing cover - everyone knew exactly what was going on beneath the blanket. He might as well have been holding up a little sign saying "HELLO. I HAVE A NIPPLE IN MY MOUTH."

The problem with wedding dress shopping is that it entails a lot of waiting. Each dress has an enormous amount of buttons, ties, stays, laces, and clasps to wrangle with. That would have been okay, except for one other problem:

Wedding dress boutiques have lots of mirrors.

Many, many, many mirrors.

I've never been a fan of mirrors.

It's not that I have low-self esteem and can't stand to look at myself. Oh, no. It's the exact opposite.

Every time I get around a mirror I turn into a large, human, parakeet.

Look! My eyes notice my reflection gazing back at me, and it's all downhill from there.. It's ME! Hello, me! Look at you! You're me! Look at my hair! Look at my eyes! Hello, eyes!"

I mean, aside from some weight gain and a couple of funky hair cuts, I haven't really changed all that much in the past decade or so. Why am I so enthralled?

I try to ignore the siren call of the mirror, but it's futile. I flutter and fuss in front of my shiny reflection as if I'm the most interesting thing ever created.

Look at my pants. They are blue. Hello, blue pants! Look at my hair! It has a crooked part. I must fix that. There, all fixed. Hello, hair! Hello, eyes! I must get closer, so I can see myself better. Hello, me!

What the heck IS it about mirrors? It makes no sense. It's not like I wear tons of makeup that I need to keep an eye on. It's not like I have lots of accessories I need to constantly straighten. Why do I even bother looking? I try to keep a level head about the whole thing, but it seems impossible. No matter how much I try to be strong, any time there is a mirror in the general vicinity you inevitably will find me edging closer and closer, twisting my head this way and that as I preen and stare at myself.

The wedding boutique was no exception.

Even though I was doing my best to ignore the mirrors, the primitive parakeet portion of my brain instantly woke up. Look! A friend!

No, it's just me. Be quiet.

No, seriously, look! It's a friend! Go study this friend!

Look, I already know what I look like. I don't need to stare at a mirror like some self-absorbed socialite.

Becky! Go! LOOOK! It's a FRIEND! How neat! Hello, friend! Becky, go look at her! Go study her! What an INTERESTING-LOOKING friend!

Hmm. You know, you may be right. She does look kind of cool.

And with that, the mirror had sucked me in again.

Gone was the boutique.

Gone was the nursing baby cradled with one arm.

Gone was my real-life friend who was about to emerge from the dressing room at any moment.

Parakeet-Becky took over completely.

LOOK! It's ME! Hello, ME! Hmmm. Your skin is looking rather nice to day.

Any pimples on your nose? No, no, you're looking nice. It seems to be a good skin day.

Is that a bit of mascara under your eye? Here, let me take care of that for you.

Huh, if I crane my neck just so, I give myself a double chin. I wonder, if I squeeze my chin in really hard, does it make three chins? No, no, just two... Eww, are those blackheads on my chin? Yes, they are, aren't they?

Weird, they seem really obvious from this angle, but not that angle. I should probably get rid of them.

Hmm. That one was easy. What do I do with it? Oh, well. That's what pockets are invented for, right? Huh, there's another one... maybe I should try to get that one too...

All of a sudden I came back to myself.

There I was.

Standing two inches from a mirror.

Cradling a baby schlurping loudly on one boob.

And using the other hand to scratch at blackheads and wipe it my pocket.


I used the mirror to glance behind me...

And yup.

There was the owner and the salesperson, mouths slightly agape as they stared at me in horror.

Flushing red, I crept back to the little waiting room chairs. Great. Now I would forevermore be known as that-creepy-pimple-lady. And I still had about an hour left of interacting with these people and trying to seem normal.

Ugh. How embarrassing.

Writhing in discomfort and daydreaming of disappearing, my eyes happened to catch my red-faced reflection from across the room.

Look! A friend! Hello, friend!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Three Dollar Hooker

I’m a three dollar hooker.

It’s sad. I always thought I would do more with my life. Write a book? Travel to Scotland? Balance a checkbook?

Funny, but “sell my body for slightly less than the cost of two king-size Snickers bars” was never very high on the list.

Still, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

After all, the Bean refuses to buy condoms.

It’s not that he has anything against them---

Oh, who am I kidding? The Bean hates condoms – he just never comes right out and says it. To butcher a quote from Grey’s Anatomy: There is a land called Passive Aggressiva… and The Bean is their king.

What can I say? My husband is a prude when it comes to buying condoms, and I can't say that I blame him. We're both kind of prudes when it comes to buying birth control. The problem is, every time we get down to business (It’s Business Time!), he is accompanied by several million eagerly swimming little non-prudes.

With both of us hating to buy condoms, this is kind of a problem. I’d go on the pill, but the pill seems to be completely ineffective on my fertility.

So, what’s a fertile girl to do? Unfortunately for me, I seem to have all the self control of a rabbit in heat where my husband is concerned. Despite my better intentions, the same thing happens every time.

The kids are asleep, and I feel that familiar rub on my side….

I turn to him…..

Many short-breathed moments later, I gasp out, “Babe, we need, to uh… we need.. you know…”

And with that, my normally brilliant husband suddenly develops all the mental acuity of a half-dead houseplant.


“We need to, you know… We can’t get pregnant…”


“We need protection….”

“Mmmrphrmph…” He makes a noncommittal noise and tries to distract me.

Apparently he forgets how much I hate being pregnant. I am not that easily distracted.

“We need to do something about it!” I bite out, frustrated in more ways than one.

“Like what?”

Like what? SERIOUSLY? I’m supposed to believe this sudden onset of confusion from the man that carries a 4.0 in his university classes while juggling two jobs, a wife, and two kids? Yeah. Not buying it.

“REALLY, Bean? Do I have to spell it out for you? PRO-TEC-TION." I bite out the syllables.

"Why can't we just do what we normally do? It's worked for us so far..."

"Who's to say we just haven't been lucky? Huh?"

He evades the question by trying to distract me yet again, and this time nearly succeeds. I surface like a drowning swimmer, clinging to my last remaining shred of self control.

“No, BEAN! You know what you have to do – did you pick any of them up?”

The Bean has been under long-standing orders to buy some condoms from his school. The school offers them ridiculously cheap, but you need a student ID to take advantage of the offer. He has one. I don't.

Besides, we’ve been married three years and we have two kids. Maybe it’s time for me to pass the birth-control reins onto someone else.

Moreover, I think I offered him a pretty good deal. “Six months,” I told him. “Six months of you taking point and then I’ll take over all the embarrassing purchases.” The Bean agreed. Six months vs. a lifetime? That seemed reasonable.

And yet….

“No, I haven’t had a chance to get them yet…..” He tries to distract me yet again, but this time I slap his hand away.

“I’m gonna end up pregnant,” I warn.

“You won’t get pregnant,” he says soothingly.

I am not soothed.

I give a disbelieving snort and push him away. “Sorry. No babies. This shop is closed.” I know there are other ways of taking care of our “dilemma” but as far as I can tell, if I don’t take a hard stance, he’ll never learn anything.

I roll over on my side and face the wall, frustrated. The problem with taking a hard stance is that I'm not really sure who I am punishing.

Thirty seconds go by, but it feels more like thirty minutes.

“Fine.” He heaves a heavy, woe-is-me sigh. “I’ll pick some up tomorrow.” His hand touches my waist.

I look over my shoulder with a grin before pouncing on him.

The next day, when I text him, “SO??? Did you get them???” I receive vague excuses as to why he hasn’t had a chance to stop by. The line was too long. He was late to work. A giant herd of unicorns stampeded through the hallway and blocked the entrance.

Don't get me wrong - I love my kids. I just don't need thirty of them.

It didn't seem fair that I had to be the adult in the situation. It takes two to tango, right? Shouldn't it take two to wander up to complete strangers and ask them for sperm-blockading devices?

On the other hand, it was obvious we weren't getting any closer to that goal, and who needs to live in a constant state of worry each month?

So I decided to take matters into my own hands. I came up with a plan and I put it in motion.

I bought a bunch of condoms.

I stocked them in “the drawer”.

And if the Bean wants to use any of my condoms instead of the much-cheaper condoms he can pick up any time.... Well, then he has to pay a premium.

Three dollars worth of premium.

I mean, come on. I’m a working mother with two kids. I don’t have the time or the energy to be worth $5 of premium.

And you know what? So far, the system seems to be working pretty well.

He no longer has to try to summon the courage up to ask a complete stranger for a big box of condoms.

And me? I no longer resent him for not going to the store. In fact, I actively discourage it. After all, it may only be $3, but it adds up.

So, yeah. There you go. Me love you long time.

But apparently only three bucks worth of long time. If you want some of that five-dollah lovin', you've got to go to the ritzy side of town.

(Actual screenshot - names changed to protect our lascivious identities. I sure hope Wells Fargo doesn't closely monitor transfer descriptions. )


Monday, May 9, 2011

Ummm... "YouTube Monday"

Mugwump has her Mouthy Mondays.

Photographers have their Wordless Wednesdays.

Heck, even bars have Thirsty Thursdays.

I'd like to dedicate one day a week on this blog to cool stuff I find on the internet. I'm the queen of running across weird things on the internet. I wish this was a marketable skill, but alas, it is not so.

Keep in mind I am not planning on writing any less. Hopefully, I'll just be updating more often.

Anyways, I'm having trouble coming up with a cool, alliterative title. Anyone? Anyone?

So, without further adieu... uh... "YouTube Video Monday!"


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother of the Year Award. Again.

What's wrong, DragonMonkey? You look concerned.

Wow, you look really upset. What's wrong?

What's that you say? "Ewww"? Show mama.

Oh, is that all? Silly boy. That's not ewww. That's a lizard. It's pretty big, too. Wait back there - let Mama take a picture.

See? A lizard. It's nothing to be scared of.

Wait. What? You want me to pick it up for you? Ummm, yeah. I'd rather not. Here. Here's a stick. Maybe if you poke it the lizard will decide to run away and Mama can go back to... well, actually Mama wasn't doing anything all that interesting, but she's pretty sure she can find something more interesting than staring at a motionless lizard.

No, Matty. Don't just squat there and wave the stick at it. The ground is cold, and lizards are cold blooded. As such, when their blood has cooled they tend to be more sluggish--- Oh. Wait. Never mind. That's too much information for a two year old.


DragonMonkey, poke.

Poke at it with the stick. For goodness' sakes, aren't boys supposed to have some sort of natural rapport with lizards, or something?

There you. Good job. I'll keep taking pictures because I want to document your cute little expression of surprise when it runs away.

Wow, that's a really lazy lizard. Here, give Mama the stick. She'll poke it and it will run away. It needs to find a place to hide before our evil cats find it.

Wow. That lizard is laaaazy.

Lazy, lazy, lazy.




Yeah, uhh... DragonMonkey? Stop poking. Mama's pretty sure that lizard is....

Yup. Dead.

No, really, gross. Eww. Stop poking at it.

EWWWW! You flipped it over! Gross! Ewwww!

Great. Now I've just taught you how to harass dead animals. First step dead lizards, next step juvenile hall.

No, no, don't be upset. I'm not angry at you. I'm just sad. Sad for the lizard.

No, wait, don't cry! Don't cry! Here. Let's go play in the front yard.

What's that? You're concerned about the lizard? Don't worry. Dada will throw it away bury it when he comes home.

Oh, Beeeeeaaan.....


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In Which I Ride A "Horse"

With the weather finally drying up it seems like all I’ve been reading is blogpost after blogpost of people enjoying long, beautiful rides on their horses. In every photo everyone is laughing and smiling, hugging their friends and viewing the world between the frame of two perky little horse ears.

It’s depressing.

I know I have a great job, and a great family, and I live in a place that has perfect weather year-round, but I can’t help myself.

I really, really, really miss having horses in my life.

The more I sat there thinking about it, the more depressed I got.

Poor, poor, Becky. Poor, horseless Becky.

It was getting pretty maudlin, when all of a sudden I realized --- this isn’t me. I’m not the kind of person who just sits around feeling sorry for myself. I should quit whining and actually do something about it.

So I did.

I stole a horse.

What can I say? I’m an addict. My name is Becky, and I’m addicted to horses.

I took my time choosing my mount. After all, I live smack dab in the middle of Orange County. There are a lot of distractions, noise, and spook-worthy things going on. I would need a calm, sensible, sound horse.

Aarene from Haiku Farm is always going on and on about how sensible her mare is. So I borrowed Fiddle.

Without asking.

Which, I guess, is stealing.


I rode Fiddle throughout my long, long day in front of a computer screen.

It helped the day pass a little quicker, but not by much.

Since I'm still nursing we were forced to take periodic breaks. I was hoping that viewing my STUPID breast pump framed between two equine ears would make it seem less distasteful, but alas, it was not so. I really hate pumping.

Fiddle was kind enough to avert her eyes throughout the process.

When it was finally time to leave work, Fiddle had a bit of trouble navigating the stairs and we almost ate it BIG time. I would not recommend trying to take a photo while "riding" a horse down stairs. This almost became "The Blog of Becky: How to Break Your Leg."

The drive home went the way it normally does.

Look, Fiddle, red taillights.

Look, Fiddle, more red taillights. Wow. What a shocker.

Yes, Fiddle, we are still behind the same white sedan. Around here in southern California this is getting close to qualifying as a friendship. If we tail him much longer we're going to have to buy his daughter a high school graduation gift.

Besides, we'd better scoot over before he thinks we're stalking him. I'm sure he's wondering why the woman behind him keeps taking pictures.

That's right, Fiddle, that is the turn off for Balboa Island.

No, we don't get to go there. Yes, I know it's a beautiful day outside and walking on the boardwalk would be fun, but you don't seem to understand. Here in Southern California we don't actually get to do all the cool, touristy stuff. We're too busy driving everywhere in traffic and working long hours so we can afford the exorbitant rent.

I agree, Fiddle. The wetlands are very pretty.

Pay no attention to what appears to be a pen taped to the bottom of the horse's neck... these are not the droids you are looking for....

But no, you can't actually walk in them - you just get to stare at them from the road or from the other side of a chain link fence. It's better this way. If the fence wasn't there people would run in and build a bunch of houses on them.

No, Fiddle, that decimal is not misplaced.

It really is $4.27 for unleaded - and this is the corner that always "wins" for cheapest gas in Orange County whenever they have a "Call in your gas prices!" contest on the radio.

Say "hi" to Bad Max, Fiddle.

Yes, I know that moments later you got a chance to understand why we call him Bad Max when he snuck out the front door and we had to chase him down as he wandered down the street -- even though he KNOWS he's not allowed to do it. Bad, Max. Bad.

After a brief tug of war over Fiddle, some time in the corner and one spanking after he kicked me in the shin ( what was I thinking? Waving a horsehead on a pen to my two year old - a horse COMBINED with something he can use to write on walls?!?! HEAVEN!!!- and then not letting him touch it?), I prevailed and was able to introduce Fiddle to the DragonMonkey:

The Squidgelet took in our new equine friend with all the usual excitement he generally displays:

After thirty minutes at home it was back to the car. After all, that's where you spend 99% of your time in California.

The drive was uneventful--- and loud. I wish standard-issue DragonMonkeys came installed with a volume button.

Fiddle insisted we pull up close to this truck:

License plate frame: Dead Men
License plate: TLNOTLS (tell no tales)

Since it was 90 degrees yesterday (a SCORCHER for Southern California) we decided to head to our second home: Frogg's Bounce House. Once again, I can't say enough good things about this place. It rocks.

Fiddle watched the DragonMonkey play with the trains.

She watched him jump in the inflatable bounce houses.

She watched me drag him screaming and kicking from the place as it closed. She watched me stuff him red-faced, sweaty, and still howling into his car seat.

She and I both agreed that we had our hands too full for photographic evidence.

I "rode" Fiddle back towards the house. I was prepared to cook a lavish, 7 course, gluten-free meal, organic meal chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals in order to nourish my precious son.

Fiddle insisted on drive-thru, even though I explained the only thing available for my son to eat would be french fries.

She didn't care.

Fiddle's a terrible influence. Bad, Fiddle, Bad.

Somewhere right after I took this shot the DragonMonkey managed to get his grubby little hands on the pen with the piece of paper taped to it real live Fiddle, so we had to send her back.


I miss having my own horse.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Peg Leg Pete

Every family has traditions.

Some families get together on the weekends and have big, happy barbecues.

Other families have movie nights or yearly trips to the coast.

My family got together on holidays, ate a bunch of food, drank a bunch of beer, and then terrorized the children with stories of the giant homicidal pirate who lived in the basement.

Peg Leg Pete.

Even his name sounds creepy.

Now that I’m older it seems a little odd that this would be my family’s pastime, but at the time we children were just grateful that the adults were willing to warn us about him.

I mean, without their help we might have actually gone down into the basement and played, completely innocent of the fact that we were inches away from a bloody, gory death.

Phew. We sure were lucky to have their help.

You know, now that I’m thinking about it, I just realized something.

Kids are very different from adults.

As an adult, if I knew that a 7 foot tall pirate with one eye, a wooden leg, a burned-off face, gigantic sword and a nasty disposition lived in the basement, I would stay the heck away from him. I’d call the cops. I’d move. I’d lock all the doors and become an agoraphobe.

You certainly wouldn’t see me anywhere near the basement.

But as a child?

As kids, we were fascinated. We hovered around the door to the basement, fluttering about like moths before a flame, arguing with each other in nervous whispers. I was one of the youngest grandchildren, so I was caught somewhere between self-preservation and a desire to seem brave in front of my older cousins.

"Open the door!"

"No, you open the door!"

"Let's go play tag!" I'd interrupt with false enthusiasm. "Let's go to the front yard! Let's play tag in the front yard!"

Naturally, I was ignored.

"You open the door! I opened it last time!"

"Nuh-uh, I did! Besides, you're older!"

It's a universal kid law -- when in doubt, refer to age as a tie breaker and argument-winner.

The hapless victim would sidle up to the basement door, hand hovering above the flimsy latch.

I'd interrupt once again, voice shrill. "C'mon guys, let's go play tag in the front yard! Let's go! C'mon," I'd whine.

"SHHHH! You'll wake him up!" Normally there was no way to shut me up once I'd started in on my whine, but this method was incredibly effective. I shut my mouth with a clap, dancing anxiously from foot to foot.

The unlucky cousin would reach a hand out, fingers scraping against the cracked paint that had begun to peel in the Bakersfield heat.

I'd bite my lips as long as I could, but come ON.

"Don't do it! Don’t do it!” I’d shriek.


“You shut up!”

“No, you!”


"Both of you shut up…I think I can hear him! Listen!"

We would freeze, ears straining for the slightest sound from the basement.

“What are you guys up to?”

We all jumped at the same time, simultaneously whirling around with alternating sounds of fright – squeals, shrieks… I seem to recall that I would usually bolt blindly in any direction away from the noise.

My grandfather was normally a quiet spoken man, but he always had the worst habit of booming out his questions every time we were trying to sneak up on Peg Leg Pete.

I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

“Grampa! They’re trying to wake up Peg Leg Pete!” If I couldn’t convince them with words to move away from the door, then I’d do the next best thing: I’d tattle on them.

“Is that right?” He eyed us all, looking down at us solemnly beneath his bushy eyebrows. “What are you going to do if you do wake him up? Where are your weapons?”

We looked at each other, ashamed. We hadn’t thought that far ahead. “We don’t have any,” we’d say, scuffling at the dusty earth with our toes.

“Well, we’d better fix that.” He’d descend the stairs from the back porch and head over to the covered bottom porch area. It only took him a few minutes to outfit us all. We stared at each other importantly, chests puffed out, steely-eyed with determination. After all, we had swords and helmets! Granted, the swords were made out of two pieces of dry kindling tied together to look like a sword and our helmets were hats folded up from yesterday’s newspaper, but that didn’t matter.

We had weapons! And ARMOR!

Of course, all that fire and determination usually melted away when we realized we still had to go downstairs.

Luckily, we had Grampa. Sensing our nervousness, he always valiantly offered to go downstairs first.

Grampa was sweet that way.

The entrance to the basement was straight out of a cheesy horror film – a dilapidated wooden door padlocked with a rusty lock. When you pushed it open it creaked eerily. Steep concrete steps disappeared into a dank, black, yawning hole that grew noticeably cooler the further you descended. My grandparents fumigated regularly but never bothered to sweep up the dead bugs, so there were always a couple of black, cockroach-like beetles curled up, waiting to crunch beneath your bare feet.

Of course the light switch was halfway down the stairs. Where else would it be?

To this day the place still gives me the creeps.

Down these stairs my grandpa would go – somehow forgetting (without fail) to turn on the light switch.

“The light! The light!” we would cry to Grampa as he passed it by.

“Oh, shoot. It’s okay. I can see just fine. You guys can get it once I make sure he’s gone.” He disappeared from view.

The steps disappeared beneath a low-hanging ceiling that blocked the rest of the basement from view. The setup was quite simple – descend the steps, walk along a narrow hallway and open a door to a small 10 x 10 room.

We’d hear Grampa open the door and wait, petrified.

“It’s okay! You guys can come down! I think he’s wandered out. But he’s left his sword behind! Come see it!”

Even with the reassurances I usually ended up lingering at the doorway, barely able to follow my braver cousins down. I mean, come ON. It was a bloodthirsty 7-foot-tall pirate with a melted-off face. What if he came home early?

The group would huddle together, wooden swords held in front of us, generally trembling with our fear. Newspaper hats were squared on the head. By the time the leader hit the light switch, we began to feel comfortable.

“Wow, this is interesting!” my grandpa’s voice would coax.

“What? What?” we would cry.

“I can’t explain it. You’ve got to see it for yourself.”

We shuffled down the hallway with greater speed, intrigued. Oooh, what was in there?

His timing was impeccable.

Just as we reached the point of no return, he would peek his head around the nearly closed door, blue eyes smiling behind his large glasses with the yellowed lenses. “There’s some neat stuff in here. You should come in and se—“ He stopped, abruptly, eyes bugging. From where he was standing all we could see was his head and his neck---

His neck, which now had a large, reddish hand wrapped around his throat. “RUN!” he managed to choke out. “HE’S BACK!”

We completely lost it.

Amid full throated, ear-piercing shrieks we scrabbled to make it back to the surface. Weaker cousins were pushed aside in the mad scramble for safety back into the baking hot sun. Forget propriety and a love for your fellow man– it was every cousin for himself where Peg Leg Pete was concerned.


We’d burst through the door of the house, tumbling into the kitchen frantically and tugging at our parents' shirts. “PEG LEG GOT GRAMPA! PEG LEG GOT GRAMPA!”

“Shhhhh!” the adults would intone, oblivious to the fact that our beloved Grandfather was slowly being strangled to death by the disembodied hand of an angry pirate. “No yelling in the house.”

“BUT HE’S GOT GRAMPA! HE’S GOT GRAMPA!” Despite the horror in our voices, the adults never seemed all that concerned.

“I’m sure he’s fine.”

“NO! NO HE’S NOT! HE’S NOT FINE!” I was appalled. How could they be so blasé? “HE’S DYING! HE’S DYING!

“Shhh. No yelling, Becky. Go outside and play.”

Go outside and play? With the flesh-eating, child-hating sociopathic pirate? Were they nuts?!

Usually about the time our fear had been whipped up into a borderline hysteria, in would saunter Grampa, cool as a cucumber.

“GRAMPA!” we’d shriek.

“SHHHHH!!!! Stop the yelling!” the adults would say.

“Grampa!” we’d try again. “How did you… why… where’s… ?!?!”

“I managed to get away,” he’d say smugly. “Gave him the slip. And while he was trying to get a hold of me again I managed to grab his sword and give him a little stab with it.”

We crowded around him, enthralled.

“He won’t be bothering us again anytime soon. All the same, you kids better stay out of the basement for awhile. He’s bound to be in a bad mood after all that.”

We stared at our pirate-conquering grandpa in awe as he strode back to his favorite easy chair and set himself down with a contented groan.

Wow. Grampa was awesome.