Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Child Lit Review

I'm a mom that reads to her kids.  A lot.  And yeah- I brag about it.  We are readers over here on Fieldstream Lane.  Now, being the avid readers we are, I've become a little picky about what I'll read to the boys.  Because, face the facts.  Some kids books are just dumb.  (The Christmas Helpers, Scamp Saves the House, the entire Biscuit Goes Somewhere and Does Something Pointless series.)  I never tell the boys I won't read a book they choose- but- gosh- sometimes I'm really struggling.  They are just futile.  I especially hate when I have to make animal sounds that are printed instead of left to the imagination.
Example:  While reading a book about farm animals I feel free to make the noises of baby lambs and waddling ducks.  It adds color and a personality profile to the book.  But while reading let's say a Biscuit book the noises the puppies make are printed.  As in:  Woof!  Woof!  and Arf!  *cringe*  It's so dumbed down.  Blech.

But!  Worse than any.  Other.  Kids.  Book.  Are The Curious George books.  My boys love Curious George.   I can't stand that little rascal.  First- the man in the yellow hat (probably gay (certainly not the reason I hate the books.)).  When is he going to figure out not to leave a terribly misbehaved monkey alone. I mean, EV-ER-EE-WHERE they GO!  He's all, "Chill here, George. I'm gonna go get hot chocolate!"  or "Don't get into trouble.  I'm gonna check on our order."  or "Wait here for me.  I'm gonna make an unimportant phone call."  As a parent, he should know, or at least catch on (!) that you just can't leave tots alone!  Especially when their name is Curious George.  I mean if the monkey's name was Well Behaved George or Never Causes Trouble George then I could see his reasoning.  Or.  OR!  If the man in the yellow hat had a more pressing (or believable) engaging and he was leaving George for a few seconds.  I could handle the books if it was "Wait in the car, George.  I'm going to pump the gas. I'll be able to see you through the windows."  But... no.  Every time the man leaves and every time George makes terrible terrible decisions.

Which brings me to my second point.

Curious George is beyond curious.  Curious would be little George wondering if he could pour the milk into his cereal himself.  He tries and Whoops!  spills a little.  Good try, George.  Or.. Curious could be little George wondering what happens when he brushes the dog's hair in the wrong direction. To me, being curious is tender and loving and basically harmless.  But ol' Curious George... He's far from harmless.  He's a real rabble-rouser.  He's a loose cannon.  Curious George becomes "curious" and climbs into a running dump truck and pulls all the levers.  Releasing literal tons of dirt into the middle of a pond.  Would you call that curious behavior?  Eh.... no.  In another book, Curious George becomes curious and steals a hot air balloon.  In another he lets all the animals out of the animal shelter.  He tangles all the balloons in the Macy's Day Parade.  And in each story someone is incredibly (and justifiably) furious with him.  Curious George runs away until someone else fixes the problem and then he re-appears and somehow becomes the hero and no one is ever mad. Ever!  Well, no one except me.

What enrages me is... What's the lesson being taught?  It appears to be, "Go ahead, kids.  Ruin everyone's hard work.  Do whatever the heck you want.  You can always run away, not apologize, and never get in trouble."

On the up side I'm launching my own children book series.  It's called Curious Patty.  It's about a sweet little monkey who is always curious.  Curious Patty often gets into trouble.  One day she doesn't listen to her friend, The Lady in the Purple Boots and Curious Patty gets put into time out for 4 minutes because she is 4 years old.  Curious Patty throws a fit.  She kicks and screams and tries running away.  But The Lady in the Purple Boots holds Patty in her timeout chair until she has calmed down.  Then sets the timer.  Curious Patty doesn't like her punishment but learns her lesson!

In another story, Curious Patty wonders about scissors.  She gets so curious and full of wonderment that she cuts up her friend's favorite scarf.  Curious Patty gets grounded!  And she's not allowed to play with scissors anymore!

In another one, Curious Patty won't eat her dinner.  She just wants dessert.  Curious Patty goes to bed hungry.
More titles that have come to me:
Curious Patty Hits Her Friend.  And has to apologize and make amends.
Curious Patty Uses Crayons Inappropriately.  She has to scrub the walls clean and can't use crayons for the rest of the day... heck... rest of the week!

I intend to write children's literature that means something.  That drives a point home.  And the point is CONSEQUENCES! 
So-long Curious George.  Have fun in Juvey!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sickness Begets Sickness

Remember in August when I was freshly 30?  I felt magical and confident.  I was queen of the hill.  And the little town below the hill.  And the whole world obeyed my commands.  I was the most beautiful girl in the land.  I was.... so... young and healthy.

That was a dream.

A few days before my birthday, and throughout the month of August I got laryngitis.  Which at first I thought was super sexy.  I just love me a woman with a low raspy voice.  It was super hot.  Until all my friends had heard it.  And I couldn't talk at all.  And it lasted for 4 weeks.
When my voice came back I started getting sick about once a week with the old pukies.  Just randomly I'd be sick.  And since I'm not on the super health-nut side of the scale.... I figured my body just didn't agree with a Big Mac AAAAAAnnnnd the 20 piece nugget.  and a large Cokey.  Or the next time it happened I figured the habeneros were a step too far and maybe I shouldn't have added them to my wing sauce.  I mean, come on.  Bear with me.  We all make dietary mistakes.  Coke and Froot Loops for breakfast constantly sounded good to me!
I am who I am.
All this vomiting climaxed a fateful day in October and I ended up in the emergency room.  They did emergency surgery to take my gull bladder out.  Which was full of gull stones and had collapsed upon itself.  Now, note.... I love saying "emergency surgery" because it makes me feel prominent and important... and, yeah, a little rich.  But I'm not foolin' anyone.  They treated me just like the next person with a bum gull bladder.
When the thing came out I felt a lot better.  I swore of Coke.  Still haven't had any.  I've been clean for 27 days.  Miss it like hell.
My high-rise to health... which was more of a hunched over, timid scuffle... you know... the incisions and what not.  It was short lived.
On Halloween I went trick or treating with my kids and had dinner with my sister.
Saturday morning I was back in the emergency room.
I thought I was having a heart attack.
They ruled that out.  And took like 15 more test before givin' me any meds.
I was sent home around noon being told I had Pleurisy.
Pleurisy is when the pleura around your lungs becomes inflamed and makes it extremely difficult to breathe.
They said after one painful week I'd be back to normal.
I would have given a sigh of relief but I couldn't muster up enough air.
Sunday I went back to the ER.  (Filling up my punch card.  I hear after 10 visits in a month you get a 5% discount.)  I had been throwing up about every 15 minutes for like.... 9 friggin hours.
After hours and hours of tests the good doctors told me I didn't have pleurisy.
I had a gull stone still floating around from my surgery and it had blocked my liver.  And all the bile was building up in my blood.
I was so relieved they knew what was wrong.  FINALLY!
I just started begging, "Put me under.  Put me under.  Put me under."
They refused.  Arrogant medical community.
I ended up getting jaundiced and none of those good good hospital drugs would help with the pain or the vomiting.
It was a rough day and a half.
In the morning they went through my mouth to remove the blockage.
When I woke up I felt like a new person.  Not pukey.  Not yellow anymore.  Just normal Patty.
Well... normal for what I gander an 80 year old would feel like.
I'm up to taking about 50 paces before I'm winded.
And sadly all those wonderful hospital drugs have worn off.

And I have a stinking zit on the inside of my ear.
But I'm hell bent on surviving clear to my thirty-FIRST birthday!
So don't you worry about me!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Garden Goodness

Kids and gardens and me just all go together. 
I love my kids.  I love my garden.  It's our favorite place to be.
I think Kole and Joey love it because they are free to eat whatever they want.
Their fingers, mouths, and spots they've touched on their bellies are constantly stained from fresh strawberry juice.  They also pick carrots out of the ground and eat those. 
Which is slightly less cool because it's basically eating a mud stick.  They don't even brush them off.  Yee-uck.
But picking beans off the vines and munching fresh raspberries and snap peas with my two little cubs- makes my life unbeatable. 
The boys light up when I say, "Let's go work in the garden!"  Of course, their idea of working in the garden is inspecting each plant, digging in the dirt for bugs, and eating what they consider to be ripe.  Poor Joey has eaten a lot of white strawberries this year.  But, he does so with a smile, and always says, "MMmm!  Love it!"

When the plants were just perking up. Circa mid to end of July.
When the boys checked on the potato plants they stuck their heads clear inside.  Very very thorough.

These gals are still cluckin' around.  And I've eaten a lifetime's share of omelets, egg salad sandwiches, and quiche.
After a hard days work- you gotta cool off in the kiddie pool and then get right back to tractorin'.  According to Joey.

It's a happy wonderful life at Crooked Row Farm.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Magic of Being 30.

Graduating from college.
When I decided to finish my degree (slash start my degree in Positive Psychology) I figured it was just a check mark on my life list.  Something I'm supposed "to do."
But let me tell you!
I feel smarter.
I feel like I can play Sudoku on the hardest level and do the Sunday crossword in the NY Times.
I'm pacing myself and playing on the moderate Sudoku level- mostly because I like going in order.  And I'm trying to keep my book nice.
I keep getting these great ideas for apps.  And in my head I'm saying, "I'll type up the code for that tonight and sell it in the morning!  Ching.  Cool million.  Made."
Now, I don't know how to write code.  I'm not even sure that's what it's called- but I'm confident I can learn it.  And quickly too.
I'm envisioning ways to redesign my house like those people on Inception where they can walk up walls and create any world.  That's me.  Walls removed and rebuilt.  Indoor greenhouses.  Wall to wall sewing machines.  A bread room.  It's just flowing from me.
I've made myself a few cups of tea- because it is my personal belief that smart people drink tea.
Especially teas with names like, "Keemun Concerto" and "Breakfast in Paris."
Those teas have just got smart people written all over it.
Unfortunately, and to my dismay, I still strongly dislike the taste of tea.
But!  I have found that simply holding a mug filled with steeping steaming tea provides the same feeling of intelligence.
See?  Miss Smarty here (that's-a-me) figured that one out with her big college degree.

I've also recently turned 30.
And something magical has been transfixed within me.
The cloud of confidence I normally walk on has grown in magnitude to an out-right thunderhead that is unstoppable.

I am a force.

Someone asks me to do something and I'm like..
Psht!  Yeah.
I can do it with my eyes closed.
I can do it standing on one foot.
I can do it with one hand tied behind my back.

A few people have made the jokes about turning 30 and getting old- and I'm just not on board there.  Why is 30 old?  I feel more like myself now.  More full of life and breath.  More excited than I've ever been.  Being 30 is buoyant.  The uneasiness I had as a "twenty-something" that I didn't even know I had; has vanished.
Now, I feel if someone questioned my parenting abilities, cooking techniques, driving skills, fashion choices, grammar usage, weight gain, or spelling- I can simply say:
"I'm 30.  I've got this."
Because I do.

I've got this.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Funny at the Literal Meaning

Two things have gone through my head that have made me laugh aloud at myself.  And my clever, coy style.  They are only funny when taken at their most literal meaning.

1.  "No way, Jose."  When I'm talking to Joey.

2.  I put up with so much Sh!t from these two.  Literal.  Come oooon. 

In other funny news, yesterday Joey bit Kole on the back.  Jaws style.  While I felt bad... as a member of the Maternal Justice League Kole really had this coming.  He gets about 45 cheap shots in on Joey for every one that Joey can reciprocate.  Kole was screaming and crying and I was cuddling him to make him feel better. (And make myself feel better for letting it happen.  I didn't sic Joey on him--- but I did loosen the leash quite a bit.)
Kole asked if he had "a bleed."  I checked.  He did.  I told him.  He cried harder.  After a few seconds he wailed, "This is what happened to Jesus!  They hurt his back and hung him on the cross!"
While I admire his biblical knowledge.... that's a tad dramatic there, Koler.  Your little brother bit your back.  No one is crucifying you.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ribbon Cutting!

Well.  It's official.  We opened a farm.  Had the ribbon cutting ceremony today.  It was remarkable.  I gotta say *clears throat* some mega scissors and some majestic music and an audience...*clears throat* and some ribbon would have made it really remarkable.  But.  None the less.  Welcome!  (arms spreading)

Yup.  I named 'er.  You kinda have to.  Haven't you ever seen Sarah Plain and Tall?  You have to write your name in the dirt.  I wrote mine in letters from Porters, some barn paint, and wood.  But the essence is the same.  We named it Crooked Row Farm because upon planting our first seedlings this year with the kids... nothing was straight.  Nothing looked clean and pristine like I pictured it in my head (or how I sketched it in the agricultural blue print.).  So.  I embraced it.  And then made this sign.  It's about to blow up Pinterest.  Every one is gonna be naming their backyard. 
In March we got 5 chicks.
They became my little beebees.  They were soft and cuddly.  And poofy!  And would peck little food seeds out of my hand.  I was always checking in on my chickies.  I worried about them and would get out of bed in the middle of the night to make sure they were warm and okay.  They were literally like my newborns.  But heavens to Betsy...have they grown fast.  Just like my real human chickies.

They went through a weird phase...Can you see the resemblance?

They kinda turned into crabby old bitties.  It was always something with them.  I never had their water just the right temperature.  They wanted their meal at 5:30 not 5:15.  Fresh bedding twice a day not once a day.  So.  I built them their own place where I couldn't hear them squawk.
 I know what you're going to say.  It needs a little wreath about the door, huh?  Or a house number.  Or a plaque.  I keep telling The Kenmo, "I want to name the chicken coop."  But the only name I can come up with it Pollo Fundido.  And that's what he orders at Garcia's.  PLUS!  With that name I'd have to stucco this whole thing- add some blue tile... it could get pricey.  And naming a chicken coop seems to be beyond Ken's level of tolerance.  So.  Probably a wreath.  And flowers will go in with warmer weather. Naturally.
Every good running farm has a farm dog.  So...Check!

Dook at doze eyez.  We adopted Oreo four days after we got the baby chicks.  It was an animal overload for the first 36 hours.  But turns out Oreo is about the lowest maintenance dog in existence.  I have to beg him to take a walk with me because all he ever wants to do is snuggle.  Which I love.  I love dogs for their unlimited snuggling capabilities.  The only down side to Oreo's snuggling is sometimes he Steamies me.  A Steamie is when a dog (or Ken) is really close to my face and then breathes hot air breath onto it and a muggy warm layer of thin condensation forms on my cheek.  Worst sensation.  A Steamie.  Do it to somebody.  They'll hate it.
We started seedlings when we were deep deep in the Winter Doldrums  and have slowly been moving them into the Great Outdoors as we've slowly moved out of our Winter Doldrums.  And we plugged about 30 raspberry starts out there. 

 It is such a feeling of accomplishment to see growth.  A little plant that will provide food for your family.  It's incredible!  I guess Mother Nature's real name is Patty Poulsen.  And, don't worry, to ensure that feeling of accomplishment and triumph persisted through the Spring, Summer, AND fall- I planted ONE HUNDRED strawberry plants!  A Hundy.  (If those were dollars I'd be rich.)

But they're not dollars they're strawberry plants.  Ha-rumph.  I did get to thinking though.  Even with all the Cool Whip in the world; can I eat all the strawberries 100 plants will produce?  I don't doubt much about myself- but this is indeed doubtful.  So!  I had the greatest idea to sell my surpluses at the local Farmer's Market!  I got into a late night text cahoot with my friend about a booth we'd start with my berries, her honey from her backyard swarm, and maybe some crafts or something.  We were drawing up our business plan and designing our logo to put on our jars of homemade preserves when Ken asked me what I was so excited about.  "I'm going to sell all my extra strawberries at the Farmer's Market!  We can use all the money I earn to go on vacation!"  Ken stared.  I squealed "Isn't that fanTASTIC?" in response to his silence.  He said, "You might have 2 pints of extra strawberries from your strawberry patch.  It's not as big as you think."  PSHZzzzzzzuuuuuuuuuuuueeeeewwwww. <--- That's my dreams deflating.
At any rate.  I'm so proud of my farm.  It's becoming a lifestyle for me that I am so comfortable in.  I love working in the dirt all day.  Tending to the land.  And teaching my boys how to become self-sufficient. I feel like I am on a good and well trod path.  It's idyllic and romantic and makes my heart beat harder.  Or... it could be all that shoveling and tilling that is making my heart beat faster...
I can't dig a hole without kids climbing in!


Yup.  Those are mine.
I'm really into Duck Dynasty right now.  And these really are extremely functional.
And East Coast Yuppie Meets Farming For The First Time with a Martha Stewart thing going on.

Come on by anytime you want.  Admission is free.

P.S.  I am considering an egress from Facebook.  If you want to keep up on the blog posts- subscribe!   Right over there on the right-- there's a button. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Goldfish: Past and Present

I had goldfish as a little girl.  I remember when my Dad took me to Kmart and bought me a 10-gallon aquarium. He let me pick which rocks I wanted (azure blue) and which statue I wanted (a magenta and purple grotto) and finally which fish.  Out of the tank of 89-centers I picked my fave.  And named him Goldy.
When Goldy died, I got Goldy 2.
Followed by Goldy 3.
And then Goldy 4.
And the suffixed numbers in their name were pronounced.  If someone asked my fish's name I would tell them, "Goldy Three." 
After Goldy 4 my next fish was Neptune.  He was also a goldfish.  Maybe it was a break of the Goldy Curse but I had Neptune so long and he go so big I called and donated him to the Pittsburgh Zoo.  He needed a bigger habitat than I could provide.  As an adult, this story seems far-fetched.  I was 10.  I had a goldfish I thought was outgrowing it's aquarium so I called the zoo.  And with my altruistic heart, donated my .89 cent fish to the zoo.  What a philanthropist!

When we moved back to Idaho Falls, this past Thanksgiving, I took the boys over to see my neighbor Lee.  He and his wife are also from da Burgh and live right behind us.  In his basement he had 3 huge 'UGE aquariums.  The big 55 gallon monsters.  The boys were mezza-merized.   The next day Lee called and said he was gonna give the boys one of his aquariums for Christmas if I was okay with it.  Psht.  Hell Yeah!  Lee kept his fish and we got one gorgeous tank.  In time (after the proper bacteria had accumulated) we got three little fish of our own.  I named mine Ari Gold, Ken named him Gilligan, and Kole was at a loss on what to name his.  I started naming some names he liked; "Gordon," "Thomas," "Scotty," "Koley," "Charlie," "Tony,"
At which point Kole yelled, "Yeah!  PONY!"
So Tony became Pony and we had our fish named.
Now little Pony had some birth defects.  He looked like a hunchback goldfish.  His poor fin was stunted and he looked like he'd been picked on a lot.  I felt bad for Pony.  There goes that over-sized heart again.  I did my best to treat Pony well...nay.  I did my best to treat Pony way better than the other fish.
Which, I mean, is hard to do with fish.
But I'd put in extra food in where he was swimming and... well... that's it.
Come on.  What other ways are there?
I did always tell Kole and Joey to be nice to him and not talk about his funny fin.
He was our fish. And we were happy to have him. And we loved him no matter what.
I really felt good to have Pony safe in our tank.
Where no other fish could pick on him.
Or call him mean Fish Names behind his dorsal.  Or post rumors on their Fish Facebook pages.  Or unkindly mimic his crooked swimming.
He was safe from all the bullying in my tank.  Under my aquatic maternal wing.
Things were calm under the water.
But then one day, at dinner time, I noticed Pony chasing Ari and Gil away from the food.  He'd just swim real fast by them and kinda surprise them so they'd swim away.
I was shocked!
"Pony!  Be nice to them!"
Which probably sounded like "OOOnnnnnnN!  Ooouu gauoouuu mmmm!"
You know.  *clears throat* Under water sounds weird.
I tapped on the glass by him as a warning.  You know.  I'm in charge, Pony.  You listen up!
Needless to say my disciplining had no effect WHATsoever!
Pony just kept pestering the other fish. And not just at breakfast and dinner.  He was bullying them for pleasure.
 The drilling is Ken working on our shelving- but it kinda fits the scene.  Does it not?
When I discussed the issue with Ken- he was completely flippant.
"They're fish, babe."
"Yes.  They are.  And one fish is mistreating the other fish."
He didn't seem all too bothered by it.  Where's your heart, man!

I stayed up thinking about Pony:
He was probably bullied at some point in his life.
He looks weird.  He swims funny.  I bet he's been made fun of.
He's probably had a hard time making friends.  He's just passing it on.  He doesn't know any better.  This is how bullies are.
Maybe he comes from a single-parent home.  Maybe he's missed out on loving relationships.
Maybe he's suffering from depression or anxiety.  Maybe he misses the big tank at the pet store.
Maybe he views himself negatively and just needs steady positive reinforcement.

At this point I started dreaming up my business cards:
Patty Poulsen, PhD
Fish Psychologist

For 3 days I watched Pony bully my other two fish.
I watched Ari and Gilligan try to make themselves shrink and swim in smaller and smaller circles.
No amount of glass tapping and above-to-underwater scolding was reaching this dang fish!
One morning.  I woke up.  And Gil and Ari were hiding in the plant while Pony swam circles around them occasionally nosediving at them.
That was it!  I could justify his behavior...NO MORE!
I got a Mason jar.  Filled it up.  And scooped Pony into it.
"You're in Solitary Confinement today, Mister!  That's right The SHU!  Get used to it, Meanie!"

My next step was obvious.
Call the pet store.
They told me their policy for aquatic animals was 14 days for full refund.
So, after the kids went to bed, and after a full day in The Box for Pony I toted him back to Petco.
Their first question after realizing he wasn't dead was "Is he sick?"
I explained he was perfectly healthy and that he was just mean.
The two men just stared at me.
"What?," I said.
"You are returning him... because... he's mean?"
"Yeah." (I was not getting their surprise.)  "He's a bully.  And he's terrorizing my other fish and I don't want him in my aquarium.  He's too mean."
They just kept staring at me.  Mouths a-dropped.
So I continued, "Your return policy stipulates 14 days.  I'm under that mark.  I no longer want this aggressive fish.  I am returning him.  I have my receipt."
At which time I handed over Pony.  In the jar.  With my receipt.
And you bet your butt I got my dollar sixty-five back. Psht.  I also told the pet store people they should let prospective buyers know about Pony's past.  But I think they quit listening after they handed me my change and dumped Pony back in the tank with 35 other one-inch goldfish.

A few days later, after Ari and Gil felt comfortable swimming in the open water again we got 3 more fish to complete our aquarium.

And, thank heaven, they all seem to be getting along swimmingly.


Gilligan (Gil)


Ari Gold

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NewMe Zoomi

Last night, I dyed my hair red.  I'd like to say it's reddish brown but it's more like brownish red.  And, may I add...
I'm a scorcher, babe.
*Back of hand cupped by mouth* The new push-up bra adds to the effect.
Instant boob job.
Fraction of a fraction of the cost. 
But tis' the new hair color that has me feeling young and free.

So free, in fact, I painted my nails hot pink.  Takealookatthat!

I played tricks on Kole and Joey.
I popped out and scared them every chance I could.
I turned the music up.
I turned the bass up.
I put some lip gloss on.
I danced my big ol' mom butt around the house. (to the tune of Welcome to Atlanta Remix)
I tried to get the kids to follow me.
It kinda worked.  Guess they don't love Jermaine Dupri as much as I do.
We had an inside picnic and played a new version of Candy Land.
Which, P.S.,  if Kole named it would be called "Cheat Cheat Cheat and Make The Game Last A Long Long Time."
We took a walk.
And decided to have mini races.  Probably 45 mini races to get around our block?  45?.... maybe 60?
When we got home- I said, "Let's go again!"

It felt good to breathe and be me and be 29.

I used to think I had to keep that gray in there.
Make it a part of myself.
You know, She's young and perfect with this striking gray hair.
The young and perfect apply but the striking gray hair... looked more like kinked up tinsel.
Nothing young about that.
Red is it for me right now.
So sexy.
And- as we all know- "Sexy" and "Patty" are synonymous.

Try a new color to shake off the winter doldrums.
Works.  *wink* Like a charm.
The shade of hot pink nail polish, however, is a little too "trying too hard."
It's gotta go.

Picture on the way...