Saturday, December 29, 2007

Caution: Risky Reading Ahead

Yes, it's appalling I haven't posted in so long but I've been dealing with some very intimidating moms here on my travels in South Africa: Indeed, there are these moms here that remind me of the worst Crabtown ubermoms— aloof, hyper-athletic, territorial when new moms come along...

So we've been bashing along through the bush, removing ourselves from civilization and even from Crabtot for a few lovely remote days on safari. Bliss! I absolutely adore looking at moms and babes in the wild and then, you know, just MOVING ON to a station where a good cocktail may be imbibed. They do these weird little fabulous things for you on these luxe-safaris, where you trundle along in your jeep scanning the veld for warthogs and whatnot, and then just when you're about to think of a nice alcoholic libation, you arrive at a spot in the road and there before you is a little table sporting ostrich kabobs and gin and tonic! A bit silly really, but who am I to look down upon local (read, tourist) tradition?

Unfortunately we've had a rather tittish mom and son duo on our game drives, meaning we all pack into one jeep for intimate bush excursions 3 x a day. Mom is one of my worst kind of expat South Africans; namely a colonial circa 1950, who left Africa at 17 and now makes regular voyages in style, whereupon she insists she is one with the people, a real insider/local even as she adores giving commands to anyone of color. Her name is Bridget, which somehow has always annoyed me, in that I never really knew a very fabulous Bridget, mostly just those whiny, painfully thin vegetarian sorts of Bridgets....But our Bridge is not painfully thin; on the contrary, she is a squat handsome imperious woman, monopolizes the game ranger, knows "loads" about the bush, yadda yadda, yawn. Son is a total wash, doesn't say a word, fully grown, a real mom's boy who takes all his holidays with his mummy. I used to think there was something a tad charming about mommy's boys; but when they are 40 and wearing mom-and-son matching safari gear, shweeesh! Tweaks my vibe!

Annnnyhoo! Nothing like whining about luxury travel, eh? Truly I think I am perhaps not made for loafing. Telling Crabhub and I to sit and relax in nature for three days is like asking two hornets to get a massage. Sadly I always yearn for vacays but when on them, I long to be on another, different vacay, a vacay of the future in which I am already planning an amended, better, more relaxing itinerary than the present one.

Luckily Her Petite Crabbishness is having a ball. While we fretted over treacherous unfenceable swimming pool scenarios at Crabgrandma's, as well as a lack of small children for Crabtot to play with in the family, etc etc., she seems to have slotted in very well to South African life. I might also add that while I can't call myself the world's most chilled out holidaygoer, my American Mommy fear factor (the helicopter parenting thing, the neurotic-momming) has gone down considerably since arriving here. I think it may have to do with the fact that in South Africa there are so many bigger things to worry about than scary infant cold meds and how many harness points you need in your carseats, that in the end, one can have a much more relaxing mom-time out here. So I guess what I'm saying is that when you live in a country of frequent carjacking and murder, you really don't sweat the lead paint in the toy piano!

I don't plan to pontificate deeply on the state of South Africa in this blog; nor, as a native of the country but one who has lived in the USA for 14 years, am I perhaps the best person to comment on how things really are down here, politically and so on. But while a lot of things aren't obvious about SA, what seems obvious to me is that it's a country of extremes: terrible and magnificent, fabulous and foul, sometimes all at once and in the same moment. Case in point:

We went a beach I know from childhood and enjoy a lovely afternoon frolicking in the waves. We also frolic in a warm brownish river running down the dunes and into the sea. I remember this river from childhood...but it is only after we have all splashed and played in it that we see signs cautioning us not to dip even one crabtoe in it. Because apparently, duh, Crabmommy, a few things have changed since you were a kid on this beach. And now looking up across the dunes at a major slum that has developed over the last decade, one can see that the inviting mountain stream has in fact morphed into a river of sewage. The brown water is not the rust-tinted loveliness of the mountain streams of yon, but is more shall we say excremental in origin.

Naturally we freak out when we figure this out and rush back home to disinfect the entire Crabfam in a boiling bath. Poor C-tot is practically peeled and bleached twelve times by her terrified parents...I race to the computer to try and figure out what might befall her after sloshing through that inviting brown mire, but Dr. Sears doesn't have a section on what to watch out for when you take your tot swimming in sewage. Later in the evening I ran into a parent-pal I hadn't seen in years at the supermarket, and felt compelled to relate the story in my customary guilt-needs-confession sort of way. But this pal was completely unimpressed by our drama and just shrugged. "Ja, that stream's a bit dodgy now," he agreed. "But so long as she had a nice bath..." Says he, jiggling his own tot on his shoulders!

So I guess the moral of the story is if you're as freaked out about toddler safety as we are in the so-called fancy first-world, just take your tot for a nice sewage-y swim! Believe me, there's nothing quite like a fecal frolic to ensure that you'll never again worry about the vaccine wars or whether the Teletubbies are sending subliminal homosexual messages to your tyke. So take the plunge, have a bath, and then if you're all still smiling, you know you're invincible!

Why is this post so long? I have no idea. Lawd. If you want still more, there will be more this week and next at the bloglet.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Water Can Move?

By way of explanation:

The reason for the blog-silence is not misery, lassitude, or sudden bingeing on substances. I am not laid up with a virus, hungover, tweaked by bad mommy-vibes, or irritated, for once. Because I am on vacation. And hence I have nothing to crab about. Yet. And as you all know, I don't like to post unless I have something to complain about or someone to embarrass or call out. To post otherwise goes against my blog-religion.

Yes, we are in Cape Town at last. Somehow we managed to get Crabtot from the northern to the southern hemisphere (for more on the odyssey, check the bloglet), to South Africa land of sun, sea, sand, and poor internet connections. A real vacation then. And not a moment too soon. Just before leaving Crabtown, I remarked to a woman in the blasted library that her two year old looked older (the kid was tall). Mom responded with a classic, "Yes, she's tall and also she's very verbal for her age." Ah yes, THAT WOULD EXPLAIN IT. Time to skip the hometown routines for a while, then. Indeed I am glad to leave Crabtot to auntly and grandmotherly entertainments instead of hitting the library. How lovely to have her sort through Crabgrandma's semi-precious stone collection instead of exchanging banter with the verbally advanced.

I will soon be reporting more regularly and, I hope, with some humor and drama. For now I remain in my bathrobe looking at the clouds drowning out Table Mountain and wondering if we should go to the beach, the lovely lead-paint playgrounds (and I seriously mean they are lovely, the paint on the jungle gyms warm and satisfying to peel off in long strips...), or if we should just hang by Crabgrandma's pool. The view from my computer:
I think this is the first post in which I haven't attempted to be interesting or irritated or tried to amuse. I apologize for the dull narrative; just to say please don't desert me. I will return. I am sure I will soon be back to my crotchety self. Meantime visit the bloglet if you want to see a half-assed Christmas Craftacular involving treetop angels and human devils.

As for the title of this post, it's Crabtot's first reponse to a dip in the ocean.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cleaning Up That Potty Mouth!

Parental advisory: Parents, if you are faint-hearted about discipline, do not read this post. If you are positive, controlled, and kind to your children, please go elsewhere. If your children respond well to non-violent parenting, best you hot-click out of here.

Whatever you do, please don't post any negative feedback regarding how I am "crossing the line" with the forthcoming tale of Crabtot crime and punishment. As with the sometime spanking, I do some things that some readers don't like. I know I'm not nice. That's the whole bloody point of this blahg. And as you will see, Crabtot can take it. But if you can't please do buzz off rather than leave me the sort of comment that you know is going to tweak my vibe. Remember, I never promised you a rose garden. I promised you a crabby mommy and those are two very different things, roses and crabmommies.

If you prefer to feel cozy, go elsewhere. Like, to where they discuss their top 5 baby blankets of all time. Maybe you will find it cozier than I did. Their favorite blankie? Dwellbaby's cashmere offering at $137 per lovey. Talk about predisposing your kid to the finer things in life! Not to mention how sad Mom would be if she lost that dang Bangy. Forget baby's tears, if it were me I'd be gnashing my teeth at that $137 lying somewhere out there...Jay-sus. Honestly. Bloody. Ridiculous.

So. Thank you for staying, you hale and hearty moms and dads, and for accepting me though I may be a little less cuddly than some. Cheap and mean mommy-o? Why, thank you for saying so!

Okay enough prattle. To the point: Crabtot has of late become demonstrably more impossible by the second and has taken not only to delivering constant streams of wiseass-ery, but also to delivering very articulate and highly detailed accounts of what she plans to do with her parents for being, well, her parents (put you in the garbage, in the toilet, gonna poop on your head, blah blah blah). Three is indeed a little different from two and in our case a tad tougher, right now at any rate. Anyhoo, Crabtot has learned quite a few sassy words and is also enjoying the pleasures of parental name-calling (Poophead, Stupidhead).

We all know this is normal and maybe even funny to those with undeveloped senses of humor, but it is also utterly tedious to listen to and downright irksome for the fiftieth time in a day. We have tried it all: punishment, bribery, reward, spank, no spank, positive talking, careful explanations of feelings, shouting, blithely ignoring, etc. etc. And then we tried something new yesterday.

Tot and I were having a tricky morning and so, out of the blue, I just suddenly said "Let's share a donut at Albertson's today." Now, I am never the mom who lets the kid have the bloody donut at the grocery store. I am a Fruit Leather kind of gal. So this was big. I was just so tired of the miserable Mom-Tot kvetching and carping and crabbing! I thought maybe I would mess with her mind and lighten the mood by offering something as insane and delicious and just plain out of place in our day as a big, fat, trans-fatty, totally-yummy donut.

Response: [whiny voice] "I don't want a donut. Donuts are stupid." Followed by some name-calling and potty talk. I tell her if she wants to talk about poops and so forth that she can do it in the bathroom. I tell her if she calls me one more name one more time then we are going to wash that dirty little mouth out with soap (something I have threatened before, but never done). Then we go to Albertson's.

At the supermarket she behaves very well. And while I had decided not to purchase proposed donut on account of rude reception to the idea, I decided for once that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and since she was behaving, and I wanted a donut, I decided to just get the damn donut. So we had it. And it was good.

On the way home, the name-calling began. And the hobgoblin in me said that it would be plain wrong not to follow-through on the long-threatened soaping of the mouth. And so, summoning my inner cruelmom (not hard, trust me), I followed through.

Going into the house she began to cry in anticipation and I told her that Mom felt sad and awful about it too, but that we had to clean up that potty mouth. We went into the bathroom. She stood on her stool. I lathered my hands and asked her to open her mouth. I lathered her tongue and cheeks. The tears suddenly disappeared and she smiled and smacked her gums. I waited, hoping the soap would sting or make her cry again. Idle dreams, people, idle dreams. She smiled. I waited. Added a bit more soap. She rinsed. She left the bathroom happy as a clam. "I've got a nice clean mouth now," she said.

Yeah, right. Poopyhead.

(New post today at the bloglet. Puhleeze come over. You know you want to.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shhh! Mommy's Reading!

Thought I might pass some mom-centric reading recommendations along. I know few of us have time to read, much left brain cells left to understand what we're reading, but anyhoo.

I have written before about Rachel Cusk, one of my favorite writers. She wrote a collection of essays on motherhood, "A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother." For many it will be too dark, but this is precisely why Crabmommy loved it. Cusk dispenses with the usual obligatory AND HIGHLY OBVIOUS facts about moms loving their babies and cherishing the happy moments and instead, she focuses on the difficult stuff: the identity adjustment you have to make when your body goes from one to two (cf. the essay "Motherbaby"); the bewildering nature of babies and how their mothers are supposedly meant to understand them but often don't have a clue...etc. Cusk also references literary characters in an interesting way in her collection (e.g., the childless Lily Bart from Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth).

What I like about this sort of writing is its invitation to the imperfect mother within all of us. The author is not interested in happy-mom automatons (momatons?) and their drivelous observations; by writing about the more disconcerting aspects of motherhood, she reflects the real things about motherhood that are worth sharing. As I have always stated in my not-remotely-humble opinion, parental joy does not good reading make. Unless you're being funny or witty, don't bother writing about your happiness. Despair and doubt, on the other hand...

If dark and difficult isn't yanking your chain right now, I'm always happy to point out some clever light fare. Author Ayelet Waldman has a series called the Mommy Track Mysteries with titles like Death Gets a Time-Out and The Big Nap. Crabmommy loves me a writer who doesn't take herself too seriously and while Waldman writes real literary fiction (AND has four children) she says of this series, "you're supposed to read them while breastfeeding." In other words, a perfect shower present.

Any mom-centric reads you want to rec? Or any other funny/sad/diverting/witty reads in general?

(New posts today and Wed at the bloglet. I need drug advice. Go see, please.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Crabmommy Xmas Newsletter

Now that Thanksgiving's behind us, it's time to get those holiday snaps printed up at Shutterfly (make sure you're all wearing matching J-Crew cableknit sweaters) and those holiday newsletters proofread for the mass-mailing. I just finished the first draft of my annual Crabfamily report and it goes something like this:

Whew! Can you believe how time flies? For the Crabfamily, it's truly astonishing to say "there goes another year of joy, achievement, growth (personal and financial)." But sure enough December is almost upon us, Santa is prepping his sleigh, and there's a touch of holiday magic in the air.

As you all know, having a toddler has been something of a challenge for Crabmommy, but by working positively and with self-control through the tough times, I'm proud to say that I now have a rather uniquely marvelous preschooler. Truly it is amazing what they teach us when we let them! Especially when they are as special and unusually kind as Crabtot, who voluntarily gave up her Radio Flyer toddler trike and a gently used sticker book so that the children of Iraq could have a special Christmas too.

If you want to read more, I'm afraid you'll have to hit the bloglet for the rest. But you can also stop right here, safe in the knowledge that my Christmas newsletter will contain the sort of heartfelt cheer that makes millions of people regurgitate annually across our fair nation.

I'm hardly the first to parody the Christmas newsletter. David Sedaris does it much better and many years sooner than I in his famous "Holiday Newsletter" (which, together with other essays such as the great "Santaland Diaries" makes "Holidays on Ice" the perfect stocking stuffer). There's also quite a fun website here, (thanks, A), containing the following choice excerpts of true and real egregious holiday newsletter transgressions:

Our daughter no longer colors, she designs . . .
[The daughter was three and a half, and not quite potty trained.]

Our daughter has mastered French. She isn't interested in Spanish and the school doesn't offer Russian, so she's taking Mandarin Chinese . . .
[Daughter who had mastered French was in the 9th grade.]

Got to love that one abut the little linguist. Crabmommy loves me a budding linguist. "She isn't interested in Spanish." Priceless!

The site also contains actual handy tips if you want to write something as silly as a holiday newsletter but haven't a clue as to how. And the author also offers a dizzyingly precise accounting of all of his past holidays newsletters and what makes them, in fact, top-notch. Not for the faint of heart, then. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Three's Company

Polygamists of Colorado City, Utah, you're not alone. Seems quite a few people are poly-marrying out there (only, doing it with people who are of marrying age—Warren Jeffs, take note!).

Leave it to Babble to find Miriam Axel-Lute, a "polyamorist" with a wife, a husband, a baby, and an essay called "And Baby Makes Four." She is keen to stress that her family is just the same as anyone else's. And she doesn't get why people always want to know about the sleeping arrangements.

To wit:

It used to be that the most common questions we got when we explained our relationship involved jealousy (not a problem, but an understandable question) or sleeping arrangements (why this is so often the first thing people think of is beyond me).
I know, Miriam. Wacky weirdos we are wanting to know about those sleeping arrangements when what we really should be asking is who takes out the garbage and how the health insurance plan works.

Now I'm not judging the three-way. Not judging, just laughing. Hard enough to find one person committed enough to you in life, but two? You've got to be seriously foxy-looking for that one, thinks I. But Miriam has a little purple hat on when I find her picture. And well, you all know how I feel about purple.

Still. A free world. You are free to wear purple and triple-commit and multiply fifty ways from Sunday. For now. But I hope the law will soon tighten up on this sort of thing. Because it's immoral. Indeed, I dream of the day when purple will be outlawed in America.

p.s. Apologies for blog-neglect. Terrible illnesses abounding in this home. Stay tuned for upcoming report on how Crabmommy accidentally killed the Precious "Bangy" (security blanket/lovey thing). And Monday sees new posts at Cookie, yadda yadda ya.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Checked out at the Checkup

While Crabmommy knows she has a shockingly remarkable child, I'm afraid Crabtot had a most unremarkable annual checkup.

Far from leaving with pamphlets called How To Reason with a Gifted Child or Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful: Integrating your Stunning Child in a Sea of Aesthetic Mediocrity, I left the doc's simply knowing Crabtot was normal.

Now Lord knows I cannot stand the spawn-promoting mommy, the "we are so blessed" mommy, the "my child is so advanced" mommy. I've done serious mass-dissing of the edu-mommy, the "she speaks Spanish and Sign Language too!" twitmommy. Indeed bragmomming (and bragdadding) appalls me. But while I look down on such smugmom impulses, something happens to me in the doctor's office and hot damn if I don't want C-tot to dazzle the doc as she does me! It's ugly, but that's motherhood for you. Or at least, Crabmotherhood.

Crabtot didn't enjoy the checkup. She's been apprehensive ever since she saw that Elmo Goes to the Doctor DVD when in one scene a weird little girl, who looks and sounds like Janis Joplin, hisses the words "check up check up" over and over again (Anyone know who I'm talking about?). So at the pediatrician, the usually loud Crabtot clammed up. Or to put it in a less pc-manner, she appeared dense. Or as we say in my native South Africa, dof. When the pediatrician held up three fingers Crabtot appeared terribly confused by the number "three." Then she was asked the color of her shirt and her eyes glazed over. By now the uglymommy within was clawing at my throat. I almost said it, people, and I 'aint proud of that, and I'm triple-cringing as I write this, but at least I shut my mouth BEFORE blurting out, "She even knows it in Spanish! say a-maree-yo, Crabtot, for the LOVE OF GOD, SPEAK!"

Though Tot perked up at the end and we managed to leave without referrals for remediation, I have to admit, I was a bit bummed she hadn't blown the doc away. And I was also hugely bummed at myself for my shallowness. Yet again. The truth of it is, we want the doctors to tell us that our children are special. But really their job is to tell us our kids are healthy. The rest we already know.

Of course it may not be mere shyness/fear that inhibits tots in doc offices. It may be that by playing dumb they're outsmarting us. We want them to perform, and because they see through us, they refuse. Crabgrandma reminded me of my cousin who, as a kid, refused to play the game at a pediatrician's office. After many long minutes of questions answered monosyllabically he finally lobbed a kicker before the interview ended.

Pediatrician: "So, James, do you have any pets at your house?"
James: "No."
"No cats or birds or...dogs?"
"Oh, I thought you had a dog!"
"You're sure you don't have a dog?"
And then, finally, James changed his mind on pets: "Actually, we have an aardvark. Named Edmund."

Tomorrow at the bloglet: Utah Baby Names. And you thought Pilot Inspektor was bad.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Crabtot Recommends

I've been boozing it up in Kentucky this weekend so have been remiss in not posting since making my pronouncements on the Art of Naming Corey Feldman's child. I trust you all missed me terribly, but that the Myanmar flip-flops did well to tide you over.

Now I just have way too many spiders to kill today so may I politely suggest hot-clicking it over to Cookie to read what Crabtot recommends for bedtime reading. And if that doesn't quite hit the spot, perhaps you'd like to watch a delightfully creepy video embedded in this post about infants learning to swim. Seriously, has to be seen to be believed.

In this promo flick, an infant floats on water, an action accomplished by shunting his leg round and round in a swimming pool in an extremely creepy and yet impressive manner, and then bobbing like a cork for five entire minutes. Until his very creepy evangelist/porn star father/instructor charges in to rescue him. Honestly the whole thing, from concept to execution, is scarier than Tom Cruise's bangs (thanks Adrianne for pointing that one out to me).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Flip flops and...Zen and the Art of Corey Feldman

It's always heartening to see courageous rebels in troubled countries, such as Myanmar, getting together with the authorities to hash things out. And I mean this seriously.

But I like it even more when they hash things out in flip-flops as in this pic from the NY Times showing an opposition leader and a Burmese official in talks:Surely they can reach some agreement. I mean, they're both wearing 'flops!

In a completely unrelated point I was moved to read that Corey Feldman, that pitiful Lost Boy, has a toddler called Zen. Which is surely asking for trouble, and is also kind of confusing: "Zen, calm down! Zen, get your finger out of your nose!" It will be a titch ironic if young Zenny ends up on Ritalin.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Spider Season

Never mind scary monsters. Crabtown is crawling with black spiders for Halloween. Real ones.

It was extraordinary: in the course of a single day, the whole of Crabtown was covered in a giant cobweb and I am not joking. At first I thought I was seeing things: were those really silky strands floating through the air? Were those really giant webs winking in the sunlight? Or did my sunglasses just need replacing? But no. The spiders have come. They are here. And they are many.

Apparently it is an annual phenomenon in Crabtown. Migrating spiders (who knew?) parachute in (everyone here uses sporting verbs to explain such monstrous things as billowing giant cobwebbery descending on the town) they parachute in and then they take over.

And you thought Halloween was scary.

Try getting into your bed every night and seeing spiders skitter off to the side to make room for you. At least three in my bed that I know of every single night. Horrible. Little. Black. Crabtown. Spiders.

Try sleeping after you just did this creepy craft with Crabtot and co. for Crabmommy Volunteers in the Classroom Hour.

I have been assured they don't bite. And Crabhusband thinks it's very gauche and silly to make a fuss about the creatures. But while I know it sounds weird, I just don't like getting into a bed full of spiders. It would be one thing if they were just passing through and just needed a room at the inn for a few nights. But I was recently told by a helpful local that spiders live for many years. Many years!

I picture them with memories, arthritis, regrets.

Has anyone heard of this migrating spidey phenomenon? Got any tips on spider removal? I don't want toxic fumes in my house. But then again, I don't really want to grow old and wise with a spider by my side.

Also: new post today at the bloglet. Talking about Halloween. And Crabtot's doomed costume.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'll Just Kick Myself

Man, these 3-yr-olds are crabby and crafty, and I don't mean "crafty" in the glue-and-sequins sense of the word.

Crabtot often threatens to— and sometimes actually does—kick and whack her parents. She now knows not to actually kick or smack Mom or Dad for fear of wrath in kind, but she still likes to threaten it. "I'm going to bite you!" is a line we often hear. Or "I'm going to kick you!"

Mostly she says, "I'm going to kick you if I may!" The last three words aren't meant to be a polite utterance. In fact she says them with complete venom. They're a line she got from a book we adore, Maurice Sendak's Pierre. It's this fabulous story about a boy who says, "I don't care." And so eventually he gets eaten by a lion who says, "Then I will eat you if I may" and Pierre says, "I don't care!" It's a terrific book and bloody clever. (For the writers out there, a perfect example of great plotting and of coming back to everything you introduce in a story later on...I'm talking 'bout that "Chekhov's Gun" thing).

Anyhoo, back to Crabtot this morning:

Ctot: "I'm going to kick you, if I may!" [she thinks "if I may" is just the way you make threats, I guess]
Mom: [instead of kicking her...I'm squashing these impulses lately and trying to pretend I'm patient as a preschool teacher] "What a horrible thing to say! That's not nice! We don't kick people. Especially not our mommies."
Ctot: [with a very helpful, contrite look on her face and in a saccharine tone] "Then I'll just kick myself!"
Mom: "No, we're not going to have you kick anybody. And also [here I'm trying to get sort of metaphysical about how thought and deed are both bad] ...and also we don't say that we'll kick people. We don't say 'I'll kick you' to our moms. Because saying it is also a bad thing. So you have to stop saying these things."
Ctot: "Then I will say, 'I will NOT kick you!'"

I never did well in the logic part of the IQ test. Or in that section where they present you with those Escher-esque shapes which you're meant to turn around mentally and figure out which socket they fit into. All of which means I'm not really up to this sort of rhetorical bantering with a sassy little monkey.

And again, a trying afternoon:

Patientmommy vows not to lose it when I see a huge amount of mess in the bathroom: tea-sets, water, all manner of Crabtottery that the child promised to help clean up...

Mom: "Let's sing the Cleanup Song!"
Ctot: [looking suddenly pained] "I'm not feeling well. I've got a little throat."
Mom: "Oh dear, then I guess you're not well enough to go to the playground."
Ctot: [wiggling out of the bathroom and toward her room] "No, I can go to the playground...I just need a few minutes in my room because...I don't feel good."

Conversation repeated twice today; both times "I got a little throat" coincides with the Cleanup Song. Poor thing, I guess she's coming down with something. Like a bad case of craftiness.

Today at the bloglet: bashing the tot cold-med-feds!! Shove off, FDA, I'm hoarding my stash!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Get Drunk AND I Ply Crabtot with Banned Coldmeds!

Sorry, that title was a tad misleading. YOU WISH you were reading about Badmommy staggering drunk around the house and then giving Crabtot a nice fat dose of Robitussin (because as the New York Times reported in that pesky article about banning kiddie cold meds, "most parents who gave cold medicines to young children were just hoping for a good night’s sleep themselves)."

HOOOO! I am fired about that piece, man, having only just managed to actually read it in its entirety.

But today, I am not so much drunk, nor am I yet plying Crabtot with doses of "Little Colds." What I am doing is previewing 2 pieces to appear at Cookie magazine on my bloglet this week. In the first:

I speak of how much I've started lying since becoming a mother. And how I was afraid to admit to a very innocuous hangover last week when dropping Ctot at her preschool. because I am a wanker and a willy and a Piousmommy sometimes. And that's something I most definitely feel ashamed of.

Second, on Wednesday at the bloglet, I'm tackling the Times and the FDA on that cold med recall. And no, I'm not tossing that bottle of Little Colds that I have in the medicine cabinet. So COME AND GET ME, bloggers and Child Services!!!

As for not posting original content here today, people, I have a cold. And I am presently shooting up a bottle of Nyquil right here into these very crabby veins. However, no matter how ill, drunk, miserable, or high I am, I always have to be on time with my professional bloglet and by golly, so I am. So please do go and enjoy and if you think what I am saying is toxic and dreadful and offensive and wrong, that delights me! And I would be so delighted to hear from you. Just give up your illusions of online privacy, sign into Cookie (I'm trying to encourage them to do away with that) and then beat me to a pulp in your comments.

Also, little tip: if you have a blog and you come to Cookie...while we don't YET link to commenters' blogs, you can leave your blog url in our comments and get some readership from by all means, speak your mind!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wishipedia: Don't You Wish You Were in It?

So I know it's pathetic to Google ex-boyfriends and take the time to follow up on their post-me escapades. But what else should I be doing with my time? Looking after children? Cleaning loos? Exercising? Or reading about how the Dalai Lama feels a "special connection" to George Bush ("like a 'reunion' of families!")!

Googling is much more informative. Especially because it seems to me an awful lot of my exes have been getting up to all sorts of things. One is now a crack dealer and a rapist (and I hate to say it, he's still very handsome, even in his mug shot). One has listed himself on a Russian bride website. (He was Eastern European so I'm sure he's looking for a genuine cultural affiliation). And two of them, I am disappointed to say, have merited their very own Wikipedia entries.

And that bothers me.

When you have to see the name of an ex as chosen by the world (or those weird Wikipedia workers) as a designated important person, it just, you know, tweaks your vibe. Especially when the person profiled is a serious jerk (not you, ex-boyfriend...but YOU. Yes, YOU!) And the other is not a complete jerk but bloody hell if he didn't also go on to succeed amazingly well when he left these arms. Which makes him kind of an actual total jerk.

Basically, I'm just jealous. I want my own Wikipedia entry! Or at the very least what they call a "stub" which means a sort of small bookmarky thing that says you are in fact very important even if we don't really know or care to find out much about you right now. Yes, I want to be in Wikipedia. Don't you? I mean, when you make it there you know you've done more than merely Googled your exes and blogged about Ikea washing lines and bad baby names all the livelong day, eh? All of which leads me to my newest brainwave:

Wishipedia: An Encyclopedia of Important Unknown People in the World

Officially, an invitation for you, dear readers of Crabmommy. Join me in writing your own bio about yourself and the things you have got up to. And if you haven't got up to very much yet, then MAKE IT UP. I give you permission. This is WISHipedia, after all, where wishful thinking rules!

Write me that pithy version of your life story (or invented life, or life you hope one day to get around to living), touching upon all highlights both public and personal.

Then let's put them up on a website called Wishipedia... and maybe others will come and do the same. And then if each of these wishful-thinkers pays me a dollar I will become rich, meriting me a Wikipedia write-up for real. Or at the very least, a stub! I mean, there must be at least one million losers out there who, like me, are waiting for someone to write them into Wikipedia YET ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING THAT MERITS A WIKIPEDIA ENTRY.

If you're one of us, do join!

Wishipedia: coming to a blog near you. I await your stories at crabmommy at gmail dot com. And I will write my own, oh yes indeedy I will. Be prepared, ex-boyfriends, because one day you'll be Googling me...and seeing just how much I prospered and made genius cultural contributions since we parted ways.

Flipping bloody wankers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

You Named Your Baby....WHAT?

OK, so nobody needs Crabmommy to wax long about stupid baby names. Everyone's nattered on about this abundantly of late, including NPR and the NYTimes, who reported on babies called 4Real and the @ sign and so forth.

But just a few cents. Maybe not two cents. Just one cent, then.

In briefly perusing a piece about Jerry Seinfeld's wife making healthy tot snacks or some drivel (like she doesn't have a chef! [and if she doesn't she's an IDIOT]), I noticed something that had passed me by:

The Seinfelds have a child named Shepherd. No, not a dog, a child.

There's also been some chitchattery about how weird African names can be, and I'm sure you've all heard by now about how black Zimbabweans, for example, take names like Smile and Godknows. But as someone born and raised in South Africa, these names somewhat sound normal. I had a nanny as a kid and her name was Princess. When we moved, Princess was replaced by Baby. My grandparents had a dude who mowed the lawn called Attention. Someone had a childhood friend called Paraffin. The real joke, though, is on us whites who with all of our skewered education and riches, couldn't quite manage to say any African names, necessitating this "white" name nonsense.

Anyhoo. I'm sure Brad and Angelina will put us all straight by naming their next kid Harare or Nxobololo, but in the meantime, I'm just glad Jessica Seinfeld is making sure that Shepherd eats his veggies! What a good boy Shepherd!

Here, Shepherd.
Down, Shepherd.

Honestly. Just. Too. Ridiculous.

Sorry to plug again, but in order to keep my job, I plug the Cookiemag bloglet: this week's post is Can Everybody Please Stop Swimming? Part 2. (Again, a "bugger off with your infant swimming lessons" piece from Crabmommy.)

For an extra-big laugh: Suburban Turmoil is having a Worst Baby Name Ever contest and boy are there some kickers out there. Manhattyn is my absolute favorite worst name ever. I mean, the Y" in the last syllable—TOO. MUCH. It gives me joy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Put Your Toddler in that Cage!

Linklove is just another way of saying you're lazy.
I'm lazy. But Redsy isn't. Check out her tot hut for secure sleeping.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Silly Stuff: Pessimistic Fortune last!

A Crabmommy has to love and share this piece, on one Wonton Food, which is distributing grim cookie fortunes in restaurants as we speak. No more "this is your lucky day." Now the fortune cookie forecasts gloom.

Spread the negativity, I say! Reality bites.

Have a good week. Because the weekend, it's not going to be good. Something embarrassing is going to happen to you...(Fortunes of Crabmommy, coming soon to a blog near you).

p.s. New post on Wednesday at the bloglet. I'm tackling toddler swim lessons. Again. And if you didn't see my extraordinary Hello Kitty tot bday cupcakes, then shame on you. The one time when Crabmommy rises to the occasion. Go and pay homage, right now, right here.

OK, Enough About The Bloody Birthday Already!

I am waylaid by a sake-inflected hangover today. It is quite rare for me to go out to dinner and quite rare for me to imbibe delicious drinks from the Orient (just kidding, guys!!! Gabe, keep your pants on!). Quite rare for me to imbibe delicious drinks from Japan. If I could have my way I would drown in a vat of sake and sushi once weekly. Instead, the annual Crabparents' night out happens, well, sort of annually. And it was delicious. And it was great. And I felt like a grownup. But one must watch the sake at high altitude. Especially when one has never been a very good drinker. Or much of a drinker at all.


This means I'm a bit too foggy to properly blog. But if you want to know allllll about Crabtot's third birthday and see photographs of my insanely craftastic Hello Kitty cupcakes, as well as read a monologue about how the Crapmommy suddenly metamorphosed into Nigella Bloody Lawson the Domestic Goddess for Crabtot's third birthday, please go to my Cookie gig, the bloglet, right now.


Do not think I have changed. Just because I can make a mean cupcake doesn't mean I'm not still a meanmommy. Believe me, I whined solidly up to and including the party and after. And while I'm feeling a bit smug about the popsicle-stick puppet show I performed behind the armchair (see the bloglet), worry not: I remain affectionately,

Your crabby, sour, lazy (mostly), and irritated (and hungover) friend,

Friday, October 5, 2007

Why Three is Better Than Two

Crabmommy to Crabtot: "What are you going to be when you grow up? An architect like your dad?"
Crabtot: "No. I'm going to do construction."

Finally some common sense in the family!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dollar Store Flowerpot Sculpture, R.I.P.


You're waiting with bated breath to hear reports of Crabtot's third birthday party this past weekend. But I'm still recovering and hence can't quite bring myself to post yet. Maybe by the time she turns four. Actually, in truth it all went rather well. And as you know, I don't like to post about the rare good times one has a parent. It just 'aint good reading!

However, I can and must post about what happened to the Dollar store prize from the now-famous Dollar store contest we held here at Crabmommy. Remember the prize? It was won by Char who submitted the marvelous power tie that cinched her spot at #1. It was patterned in the manner of the American flag and had musical powers too.

Char won a most attractive sculpture that I found at my local DS (the one that sells crucifixion stickers and dried fruit labeled "mango-flavored pineapple"). The sculpture had the following attributes:

1. it was shaped rather like a piggy bank but had no coin slot
2. it depicted a smiling flower sporting either a bar of soap or what might be a sign saying "H20." Hard to tell. That's the beauty of it.
3. It was very, very ugly.
4. Note the use of the past tense. It is explained below:

This is no lie: I went to wrap the sculpture last week to send it to Char and dropped it. By accident. I repeat: I am not lying to you. It broke. So I immediately wrote to Char and told her that, perhaps, she was in luck, for her prize in fact broke before it ever reached her mantelpiece. Luckily I photographed it before it died. So Char, if you still want it, I can likely find a replacement.

Here's the original, at long last! People, you have been clamoring for it. Feast your eyes:
The question of the day: is that a bar of soap, or a sign begging for water?

Char, I am truly sorry I destroyed this. If you want, I can find you another—that is, if they haven't already been bought up by Crabtown's discerning residents. Or as an alternative first prize, you can win the right to NOT have one of these mailed to you by Crabmommy.

Haiku for a Weird Flowerpot

Sculpture, R.I.P.
We loved you so and did not
Mean to let you go

And this concludes our Dollar store-related posts. It was fun. But I think we're all a little relieved that it is finished.

Oh, and today at the bloglet, I'm mocking Dr. Sears.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Imitation Crab...and So Much Threeness

Crabtot is officially 3.

It is finished.

No, it's not. After the festivities at preschool (Mommy brings cupcakes! Let's decorate them with icing! Why aren't the twits eating my cupcakes? Why don't kids seem to actually eat the bloody things?! I just broke my wrist flogging that icing into stiff creamy Nigella-perfection...but WHY?) ...Then there is still the party to come, this weekend, 7 tots in this prefabricated mini-house, where we shall engage in a DANCE PARTY and once again I will be making cupcakes, with Hello Kitty faces!)

Dear God, make it stop.

But the Tot cuteness, oh! I tried to avoid this (see my satirical birthday newsletter at the bloglet) but here goes...a pinch of yumminess to be shared, after all, and in spite of my own crabby self and my blogocratic oath not to be celebratory on here:

Crabtot on her birthday morning, standing at the mirror:
"Look, Mom! My eyes are growing up!"

And later:
"I am three. I am three. There is so much threeness..."

Do you not just wish to pinch this poppet? And pluck it? And eat it? On a roll? With mustard?
These are rhetorical questions. Who wouldn't like to devour a delicious Crabtot-cutlet!


A friend of mine thought to ask me what imitation crab is made of. I of all people should know this. But I don't.

And while I could go and look it up, I feel I'd really rather not. It's more fun to see its ingredients in my mind's eye, a whiteness comprised of equal parts rubber cement and whitefish with a veneer of red real-crab stripy meatstrings applied, and a dash of authentic crab juice spritzed sparingly thereon. It is then molded into a plastic claw shape. And when it has set, false crabjuice is liberally smeared over all.

That's my version of imitation crab. Anyone actually know what this stuff is made of, though? This is a key question for our times, and it must be answered.


I have a blogload of new readers, who I am pretending to ignore and my thing the way I always do, with sauciness and effortless suchlike, but really I am hopping glad that Jezebel and Babble and all that massive Crabmommy-pimping out there is netting me such huge new numbers of hits.

Do peruse, new friends, peruse. I may have been indulgent this September, nattering on about Dollar stores and holding competitions for lip balm and such, but really there is real authentic crabmeat in this here blog. Like, just as a random example, here, and here. Mommy-musings of a dark nature. Ruminations on my rural abode and my citygirl's sense of displacement. And of course, shockingly excellent advice about all things tot-rearing-related. And then, it must be said, there is also the meanness. Indeed the crabbing here is loud and abundant.

All this and monthly contest in which you can win prizes from my Dollar store! Crabmommy: It's just plain old one-stop shopping, innit?

OK, enough, enough! I shall bid you all adieu and for those who have asked, do stay tuned for the next post will feature a photograph of Char's Dollar store prize and also tell the dramatic story of what befell it. Thereafter, some sassy crabby words about daddyblogs...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Crabmommy on Babble...And Crabtot's Turning Three

The delightful Redsy, also known as Crankmama (and hence a mom after my own crabby heart) saw fit to drive up my traffic today by showcasing my tampon wiener at Babble, a site I once trashed for its fetching hipster CEOs on video, and before which I now grovel. Watch those Crabhit numbers soar. Yay!


This is Crabtot's last night of being two.

Crabhubby: "Goodnight, two-year-old!"
Crabtot: "Goodnight, 40-year-old!"

Not posting tomorrow but see my "birthday newsletter" at the Cookiemag bloglet. It's not what you think.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

How to Make a Tampon Wiener...At Last!

As you know, Crabmommy adores a cheap craft activity with Crabtot. Well, actually Crabmommy just adores cheapness in general, for she is the Cheapmommy!

As you may also know, Crabmommy was once inspired to make the tampon wiener you see in the icon on the right. You see, Crabtot's Gammy has a white wiener dog named Gertie, so we decided to pay homage to Gertie with, what else?...a tampon!

I have received many requests for instructions on making this tampon wiener, for it is clearly a charming and easy and attractive and CHEAP activity to do with your tot (if I do say so myself). But you also know me as a lazymommy and a technologically-handicapped mommy, so the instructions have been slow in coming. I also visualized the tamp-dog icon on the right spinning on a sort of a rotating cube thing of my many cheapmommy craft designs, and when you click on one, you link through to directions. Alas, my blog template and my utter laziness have prevented this from becoming a reality. Therefore, in longhand, and at long last, and on popular demand...

A Tampon Wiener in 6 Easy Steps:

You will need: 1 tampon, white playdoh (or other color of your choice), matchsticks/pipe cleaners

1. Select a tampon, open it up and pull string to make the wiener body and tail.
2.Model a white playdoh head into a pointy doglike shape and insert cranium-side into tampon tube.
3. Pinch off bits of play-doh and work into shell-like ear-shapes. I must admit, I'm quite good at this. Mold clay onto cranium for dog ears. If this isn't going well, use a matchstick or toddler fork to smooth the ears onto the head firmly.
4. Poke 4 holes in wiener-body undercarriage, wide apart but symmetrical in the manner of sausage-dog legs.
5. Cut matchsticks/pipe cleaner in even lengths (not too long—these dachshunds have short legs, remember!) and insert into the holes. You may have to wiggle to get the angle right for standing.
6. When play-doh is dry, draw eyes and mouth with Sharpie.
*Note: Decorating your dog: you can also add dots or other assorted colorations to the tamp-tube as you see fit. If realism isn't your bag, sequins would be an interesting addition if you are going with a sort of drag-queen glam-dog motif. If you're going to get fancy on the decorating, do it before doing head or legs —right after Step 1, to ensure that tot's chubby fingers don't knock head or legs off in the decorating process.

Presto! Tampon wiener!
If tampon wieners whet your appetite for tampon art in general, you can certainly progress to other tamp-art. I can easily see a sheep...a poodle...some fetching Xmas decorations (especially when dunked in water containing red or green food coloring, and then dried and sprinkled with glitter). Tampons make excellent resources for crafty moms.

Enjoy! And please do report back when you try it.

p.s. a pic of the Dollar store mystery prize (won by Char) is to come. And please stay tuned for more Mommy-related musings of a crabby nature. Meantime, Monday at the bloglet, musings on how I am a Mommy by day but after dark, I become The Night Momster. Also on Wednesday the 26th, please check the bloglet for a sentimental, gushy birthday newsletter to Crabtot...not. This one is going to be controversial, folks. Whooooooooooooooooooo!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Schwag...and the World's Largest Crab

Prepare to be terrified.

No, this is not Crabmommy visiting her Crabcorner neighbor in his summer sleep-shack across the street. It's called a Coconut Crab.Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!


The winners of the September "Become Beauty" lipsmackable sweeps were randomly selected by the Coconut Crab above, and are as follows:

al of A&a



Lassies, please email me your snail mail addresses, to crabmommyatgmaildotcom (I'm not spelling it out so as to confuse the spam robots), and ye shall receive your booty!


The winner of the Dollar Store giveaway, after much debate, is Char, who sent me this American flag MUSICAL tie, which apparently lights up as well:

There were many fine entries. Competition was tough. Thank you for sending me your descrips of dollar store wedding veils, white crocs, saucy spike-heeled neon cocktail stirrers, diamante wedding rings. But some of these were a little too close to my own taste to be true contenders for the prize. Plus, Char sent me a jpeg and friends, that just cinched it. The runner up is Amy, who wrote about her DS carrying a laxative called IPLODE. The name, together with the fact that IPLODE is carried at a DS (I mean WHO would entrust their bowels to a DS?) renders IPLODE deserving of honorable mention. Amy, the runner-up's prize is the fact that you DO NOT have to receive a DS prize in the mail from me. Yay! Well done!


Char, if you send me your snail mail you will receive a most fabulous prize that I purchased yesterday. It is a beautiful sculpture of a flower holding a sign. The sign looks like it says "H2O" but one can't be sure because the paint job is off. The sculpture is shaped like some sort of modified piggy bank, but there is no slot. In short, it is a hideous and useless and confusing sculpture...which equals a true Crabmommy Dollar Store Find.

Char, you also get a second prize. Because you have to receive this treasure (and hopefully display it on your mantelpiece!) you were also not-so-randomly selected by the Coconut Crab's ample pincer to win lip balm too. He thought it fair, under the circumstances. Plus, we didn't think you'd send us your address otherwise.

Well done to all who entered! A rip-roaring success all around, because YOU are silly people and I ADORE you for it!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sept Schwag and a Crabmom's New Shag

By "shag" I mean shag haircut, you dirty-minded people.


I have, at long last, found a good and still cheap hairstylist. This is a big deal in a town where everyone wants to give you a haircut I used to call The Mormon Flip, back when I thought making fun of Mormons was cool, but I don't anymore. (And I have thrown out ALL my John Krakauer books, okay?) Right. So, the cut that I used to call The Mormon Flip. A very sort of Idaho/Wyoming/Utah look (Think of these states as a sort of Mormon Bible Belt... perhaps better known as the Belt Buckle of the Angel Moroni) OKAY, STOP IT, CRABMOMMY.


Back to The Look. I have been forced into this look since moving here because that is just the default hairstyle whenever you ask for something funky/ chunky/punky/ layered/interesting. I hate having volume or body of any kind off my head-crown. But boy did I ever receive body when I came here. That, along with dreadful face-framing soft swishy layered bits circa That-Jennifer-Aniston-hairstyle era. And then there was a little pert flip-uppy-thingy at the bottom. Now, how is a pert flip-up punky? you might well ask. I do not know. I do know that I sported this style. And I hated myself for it.


That is in the past!!! Finally a good haircut! It happened here, today, and on this head! I have found a guy who does it right, people! No more Pert Mommy Hairstyles for me. I told him no cute, no chic, no elegant. I told him to make me look like a Japanese cartoon character and by golly, he did! Two thumbs up for my new, flat, shagged, jagged little head.


Speaking about hair, I have a post up about hair on the bloglet (a continued rumination on the curly vs. straight hair science entanglement experiments that I reported on last week). And while you're there, enter their kid style competition and win shopping sprees, camcorders and trips to NYC. Darnit, on account of working for Cookie, I can't enter their contests, which is a shame, as they are always utterly schwagilicious....


Speaking of schwagilicious, I have in fact my very own schwaggy contests happening right here on Crabmommy, as you well know. But tomorrow is the last possible day that you can enter either of the September contests, those being the Dollar store contest and the lip balm sweeps! Put your name down. Winners will be selected on Wednesday, so get your act together if you haven't already, honestly, what are you people doing with your time?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

FREE STUFF: A Schwagilicious September Giveaway and...Silly Science!

Friends, I'm disappointed to see how few of you want to win my Dollar store prize. But that contest remains open, so I remain hopeful. But really, are you guys too good for the Dollar store or what? Only want fancy prizes, do ya? Well, FINE THEN!

You shall have them.

I have real goodies to give away this September. People, the beauty-booty peeps are coming, waving their tubes of lip balm at the Crabmommy and I say, yes please!

And now 9 of you lucky readers will get the chance to win a super-schmantzy lip balm from Aussie company Become Beauty, which will arrive in your mailbox inside a fetching silver tote, containing also sachets of face cream as well as a tiny koala bear clasping a boomerang, which you can give to your tot.

I can certainly vouch for the lipsmackibility of my lips after using that balm. In truth, this sort of beauty product line is out of my price range, given that I live in a prefabricated house and have attended birthday parties in trailers. But some of you are in different circumstances and I am trying not to resent you for your swankiness, you spoiled little tarts.

Back to the balm! It has jojoba in it and it's also nicely minty and sort of Kiehls-y in its texture, smoothing out those crustacean lips. Crabmommy's are especially unplump because I am allergic to water and live at high-altitude, so I'm basically a round-the-clock raisin. This lip treatment also promises to reduce the appearance of fine lip lines, so if you smoke too many cigarettes, do too much meth, pout too much, gossip too much, or are just plum getting old, then by all means comment, and I will draw 9 winning entries within 5 days. Winners will then email me at crabmommyatgmaildotcom with your postal addresses and that's how we'll do it.

Right then! Put your moniker in the hat. Five days and then we draw the winners!

p.s. Silly Science: I love that scientists are funded to find out that curly hair in fact tangles less than straight hair. (I disagree, what with Crabtot's curly dandelion puff permanently ensnarled...and I dont know how to handle it as one with stick-straight untangly hair...What 'choo think?)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Finally, Funny Parents on Video

Okay so these videos, in which parents dish on parenthood were the reason I started Crabmommy in the first place. Or at least, they gave me the impetus to start my Crabbing formally. Diehard Crabfans will recall my opening post in which I trashed the co-founders of Babble for videoing their good-looking, happy, and hip selves. (Forgive my verbosity in those early God, was I writing a book or a post?)


This Babble video is actually quite funny. Plug on through the first few seconds and hear this couple's story. Sort of beats mine and Crabhub's—we met on the subway. That's a different post. I'm saving it for a money essay actually (you know, when the magazines pay for that How Did You Meet? piece.) Right. So back to these 2...the mom is one point she recalls a PowerPoint presentation her husband gave her on how to divide the parental duties. They seem perfect candidates for The MartyrMeter.


What the heck is up with you people who have not yet told me about a single find in your local Dollar store? People, you can't win the Crabmommy Dollar Store Giveaway if you don't enter. It's been almost five days. What were you doing all weekend that you couldn't loiter in the Dollar store looking for crucifixion puzzles or lawn ornaments made out of chopsticks?


p.s. I have new post today at the bloglet. Deep, depressing stuff. Elegiac musings on the turning of the leaves and the summer's sweet but fleeting caress...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

FREE STUFF: Crabmom's Dollar Store Giveaway

I cannot ever get over my love for the Dollar store. It's almost equal to my fear of the Dollar store. And both emotions hit me fresh, whenever I enter a Dollar store.

For many years have I loved the various Dollar Stores I have known. That one in Brooklyn where I purchased a rip-off Winnie the Bear tote that said "Vinnie Bear" on it (remember, A.N.? How we laughed!). And now there is the Dollar store down yonder Crabtown street where, when I get over the heady scent of toxic off-gassing and ancient dollar-a-dozen Glade Toilet Freshener Plug-Ins, I find treasures that simply cannot be beat.

South Africans among you: the Dollar store is a uniquely American thing. A whole huge shop where everything in it costs a dollar or less. Most of it comes from China. And therefore you have to worry whether the chewing gum you just bought got painted with lead leftover from a batch of Thomas the Train toys. So we tend to skip the food. Instead, head straight to the flipflops, which of course, are always right next to the non-magnetic fridge magnets.

Today's finds:
*dried fruit with this on the packaging: "Mango-flavored pineapple."
(No, dumb-dumb, I didn't buy it!)
*a packet of stickers representing the crucifixion. Now I'm sorry to reference the Lord again and all that and please don't be mad, Christians, but HONESTLY, isn't it a bit sacrilegious somehow to put Jesus on the cross and THEN ONTO A STICKER? Somehow I can't see a kid doing this right: peeling off the cross and then ...what? Sticking it at a jaunty angle in a coloring book? This sticker-Jesus stuff is just asking for trouble if you ask me.

So here's a competition for you. The rules are as follows:

1. Go forth and find your best Dollar store
2. Select the most outrageous "only in a Dollar store" find
3. D
escribe it to us here in the comments section of this post

I will keep this competition running for the next several weeks and then, after fair warning, I will close the comment entries. The winning entry will describe the most Dollartastic and ridiculous Dollar store find in the history of humankind. Foreign readers of Crabmommy, if you don't have a Dollar store feel free to find your own equivalently bizarre item from wherever. It must cost no more than one American dollar. (Pep stores, perhaps, my SA peeps?)

And if you can't find a Dollar store near you, or fail to spot something suitably absurd in your DS, then just make it up. The winner will receive...a mystery prize from, you guessed it, the Crabtown Dollar Store.

Cool bananas!

Can't wait to read all of your discoveries. Now get out there and shop your collective sock off!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Portland p.s.

As if it's not fabulous enough to have visited a city where you could roll around in a giant vat of fresh-grown broccoli rabe and pay like, twelve cents for it, we had a super-swell time appreciating the proliferation of eco-conscious culture in the city generally. All their new buildings are green-tastic, then there is that public transportation... basically PDX is just so organic and delicious it almost makes you feel a little too healthy and good.

Great then, to be back in Wyoming, where, on getting our car washed in one of those infernal towns between Salt Lake and here (I think it was the town called DeBarge, like the 80s group) , our poor vehicle was sprayed with, I'm not joking, a cherry-flavored wash that was bright pink and then leaked a sort of frightening green foam down the windows and then the scent changed to a potent mix of green apple and bubblegum.

Crabtot was never so happy as experiencing this car wash. But I warn you, people, unless you have a strong nose, don't get the Super-Premium $10 car wash in De Barge. Because it will Teflon-coat your car in gum. Get the $5 Regular Super wash. Got it?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Hot Fun, Summer in the City...

...Crabfam getting out and getting gritty."

So the song goes, though there was nothing gritty about our recent city foray to Portland Oregon, land of Nothing Gritty and Everything Really Damn Nice.

What a delight of a weekend. Portland is so cute I could just squish it up on a roll and eat it! It's so compact! It has such sweet little Craftsman bungalows! It's really a sort of backdoor SanFran, what with its excellent produce and craft markets sporting lesbian-made purple-glass windchimes.

How scrumptious its oysters and parks! How divine its Asian jardins! How incredibly pleasant its abundant homeless people! Seriously, I have never met such nice and sophisticated homeless people. They are shockingly pleasant. In fact a lot of PDXers seem almost threateningly pleasant: strangers are just so helpful there it's almost sinister. And I am not just referring to homeless ones who probably are definitely actually wanting something from you when they chime in about breakfast spots in their threateningly chipper way...I am talking just generally about genial people on the splendid PDX public transportation, everyone desperate to help you discover a town whose inhabitants could not be more content.

As for Crabtot, what could be better than a place where they have this city fountain that kids actually swim in. Jamison Square. It's honestly the best bloody thing I have ever seen. A tasteful stone slab arrangement with water gushing out into a pool where all the kids leap about while parents watch from the lawns, eating their organic pizza from Hot Lips. Excellent! Now that's a fountain you can get into! As opposed, say, to the Trevi fountain in Rome where on a boiling day you—along with a giant clot of Nikon-toting tourists— have to stare at the cool blue delights of water falling on white marble, but you can't climb in. But Portland is far more civilized. It is a city where a Crabtot can feel free to frolic naked upon civic water features.

It was also smashing to see smashing friends such as Scott and Jege. We had, overall, a jolly good time. And as you know that always makes me panic regarding blogging. If I am happy and things go well, I have nothing to write about. And that makes me nervous.

So I shall leave the Crab-outing there and instead give you the heads-up on some significant Crabmommy happenings to watch out for. Tomorrow, stop by and read about my next giveaway, involving my local Dollar store. Note too: there will be some magnificent schwag happening sometime later this month, here on this very blog. People, the schwag-hander-outers are swarming near me, publicists flinging freebies my way. Stick around.

Also please go to Cookie to see my latest invention if you haven't already: The MartyrMeter is a must-have for any new family and makes for a perfect baby shower present. Yay!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Remembrance of Things Past

Because it's Labor Day weekend and the Crabfam are feeling antsy we have decided to quit Crabtown and go head for the Pacific Northwest, to an actual city for the weekend.

I haven't been to an actual city in so long I'm afraid I won't recognize it.

What is that thing? A "subway"? Whaa?
And that? A Chinese restaurant? What's "Chinese"?
And that...? A "skyscraper"? Okay, but WHAT, pray, does it do?

It's as though we are Mennonites, making our way through civilization for the first time, en route to some corn-plucking festival in Canada.

Okay, so before I get into trouble for mention Mennonites and other minorities (Gabe, you still a fan?) I will instead get back to the point and tell you that I shan't be posting while I am engaging in my metropolitan meanderings. If you need more of me, please go to my Cookie bloglet where I am forced to post regularly, wherever I may roam and regardless of the amount of crack I am doing.

My latest Cookie post comprises part two of the toddler art debate, and includes a summary of top tips for guilt-free disposal of that terrible toddler preschool artwork. Haven't added your two cents? Come on over. Heck, add three cents if you want!! Labor Day's post should be even more useful, containing my newest Million Dollar Mommy invention, the MartyrMeter (New parents who can't figure out which of you is doing more? Stop arguing! Let the MartyrMeter calculate the truth!)

And if you are still lusting for my Crabbiness, I have conveniently collated a list of my top Crabmommy posts of seasons past. So many of you readers are new. And I like you. Ish. But we would like you more if you had known us back in the early Crab-days, when the crabbing was raw and fresh.

Here follow my personal pluckings from the Crab-archive (so hard to choose! They are all so delightful and useful! One might call it a random sampling):

The Cure for Whining

Cover Girl Clavel!
Moving House
The Listening Chart
Upwardly Mobile (okay this one is recent...but it got me the highest # of hits ever so maybe it has something the others don't)

If that doesn't give you more than enough reading material, check out this article on people who potty train their tots from birth. I'm sure all the blogmommies are bloggiting on about this issue right now. Whaddya think? We can talk about it when I get back.

Happy week to you...wish me well as I voyage far and wide...and north...and west.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Upwardly Mobile

Here's a first. I recently experienced my first mobile home. And it was not the kind of mobile home you see in Dwell magazine. It was a trailer, fair and square. And it was not Aaron-of-Crabcorner-Cowboy- Compound's trailer. It belonged to a friend of the Crabtot. She and I attended a birthday party in there.

When we first moved to Crabtown we did not realize the cost of crappy rental apartments. We did not realize we had moved to the remote mountain west, only to find ourselves in New York. Luckily this wasn't a serious issue as we found a reasonable apartment. Except for the fact that the walls were new-construction-thin, and the man to our left had some sort of sleep apnea mixed with a serial killer past. I mean, he would shriek and yell and fall off his bed regularly as one being murdered (or, more likely [since he was still very much alive] reliving a murder he had committed).

Then there was the local actors' troupe who had digs to our right. The lead actor, who played the part of some hearty olde cowboye of days yon and had a big shaggy beard, would sing loudly at the top of his lungs every day. His name was Cash. Cash had a wise and twinkly face and made fortunes doing Santa throughout the west in December. Summer saw him in Crabtown playing nightly at the streetcorner where they enact an old west gunfight every night at 6 pm. It's free. An old western shootout, right across from the Gap! (Actually that Gap just closed. Couldn't afford the rent.)

Below us, the newlyweds. Let's leave it there.

Diagonally across, a lady who reported back to us on Crabtot's every whimper ("sounded like teething last night" or "does she have a cold?"). She might have seemed sensible enough were it not for the fact that she took her cat for walks in a baby stroller.

This wasn't enough to make us move. But when the apartment got sold out from under us, we had no choice. Back to the real estate listings we went. I brought them to Crabhub after work and we would pore over them, trying to find that magical 2-bedroom apartment that we could afford. Through a realtor friend, I got a tip on a listing and printed out the image on the url. It was an image of a floorplan . It looked fine, sort of shotgun style. It was big.

"It's a mobile home," said Crabhusband. As an architect, he knows these things. That doesn't stop me from arguing. "Nonsense." "Yes it is." "How can you tell?" I wanted to know. The answer: "I just can."

When Crabtot and I received directions to the tot birthday party, we were told "it's a trailer" and "you'll see a double-wide on the right." A double-wide. Such technical trailer terminology never made it into my personal lexicon. But I didn't want to seem square, so I said "Oh, right" as though I knew the diffs between the "double-wide" and the "single." As though we were talking about espresso shots.

I was slightly excited to visit my very first real undisputed trailer and truth be told it made me feel adventurous and democratic. I'd like to say that we walked in and it was all quite lovely and attractive. That would make for a nice irony. But it's not true. It was an old trailer and had bizarre faux-wood panelling inside and unspeakable trailer-y mess spilling out in every direction. It had low ceilings and ancient Napoleon-Dynamite sort of carpet. It was, to be frank, quite a horrifying sort of place to live. Mind you, it's worth at the very least $500K. For it is a historic trailer on a historic patch of weeds right in the center of town. It is a plot of weeds that has been in the trailer-owner's family for a very long time. For they are an historic Crabtown family and even have a street named after them. Mind you, anything in Crabtown is worth $500K at the absolute bottom. A piece of land no bigger than .16 of an acre starts there. Much less one with an actual trailer on it. That's what realtors call a "charming historic bungalow" out here.

Back to last summer's move: once we had ascertained that, indeed, the plans of the house I had found denoted a trailer home, the following comment just shot right out of my mouth: "I can't live in a trailer. I went to graduate school."

How exactly I came to associate "trailer" and "grad school" as antonyms I am not sure, but somehow to me in that moment, graduate school had everything to do with who I was and where I should not live. A ghastly railroad apartment in New York with a hole in the bathroom ceiling and a mobster Albanian landlord with a mail-order bride was fine for a graduate of graduate school. A minuscule hovel with roaches everywhere and where the bed touched the dining table was fine for a graduate of graduate school (heck, I'm talking about my actual NYC graduate housing!). But a trailer. No can do. Never mind how big or how fairly priced (not that cheap, though, I might add. A trailer is expensive here!). A trailer for all I knew might be perfectly nice. But as a graduate of grad school, it was out of the question.

Luckily for us, we got a proper lead on a darling bungalow with a reasonable rent. The owner was out of town so all we could do was drive by it. It was perfect. Blue metal roof, cheery yellow wood siding, a lovely little freestanding house and on desirable Crabcorner no less! Crabhub told me to go for it and make sure we got that house. He claimed he could tell just from looking at the outside that it was a good bet. It had a new foundation. It would be solid and decently insulated, unlike the vintage log cabins festooning this town, which in frigid 9-month winter would be a problem to live in.

When the owner of this cabin came back to town, he offered to show us the next door house (which he also owned) because he didn't want his tenants to know he would be kicking them out for us. The next door house, he said, "is identical." So we went to that house and I liked it immediately. High ceilings, wood floors, clean white walls. Perfecto! Crabhusband was dead silent. When the owner asked us if we wanted it, Crabhub said yes. We handed him a check and got into our car.

"Don't you love it"" I asked Crabhub.

"Well," he replied. "It's a prefab. A modular home."

"Modular?" The grad school part of me did a little backflip. "What do you mean? How can you tell?"

"I just can," he said. So much for being able to spot a good thing from the outside. As with so many things in life, it's what's inside that apparently counts the most. "It's a house that comes in a box," Crabhub elaborated. "That's why the one next door is exactly like it."

We then debated the relative merits and drawbacks of living inside a house that came in a box. What is the line between redneck-prefab and cool-prefab, between modular and trailer, between That Which is Appropriate to Grad School Graduates and That Which is Simply Not?

I don't have a clear answer but I can say I know what I like and I know that we didn't like anything else we saw out there. I can say we are happy here even though the bathroom walls are made of cardboard and when I'm in the kitchen, I sometimes feel I am demo'ing in a model kitchen. Like one set up in an IKEA habitat. Only not quite as cool, I'm afraid, thanks to the dodgy rock-bottom cabinetry and nubby plastic walls. Yes, living in a house-out-of-a-box can feel a little bit "not real."

On the other hand, the birthday party double-wide trailer felt extremely real. It had at least 40 years of history in it and it showed in the dust layers on the plastic plants. But the party was fun! The homemade macaroni-and-cheese was delicious. And evidently one can still make excellent chocolate cake in a trailer.

Evidently one can still have a great time in a trailer and a kid can have the best third birthday of her life in there. And, so I have learned, even a graduate of grad school can enjoy herself in a trailer and admire its assets.

It certainly was spacious.

After all, we're talking about a double wide.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Smith...the Mormons are Coming for Me!

I swore I'd leave the religion thing alone for my next post.

But at crack of dawn this morning, a lovely looking Latter Day Saint was at my door. My usual excuse is "Sorry, I'm Jewish (which is half I'm half-Jewish by birth)...I think Jewish is even more final for Christians than saying "atheist." They tend to leave you alone when you utter the J-word. But this morning, I didn't even go that far. I was half-dressed you see, having just come out of the shower. There I was with wild wet hair, with a dirty little Crabtot at my feet. And I just didn't feel like talking to anyone, much less a Momo mish. So I just shook my head. And she looked at me, smiled, and left.

Late for preschool, I almost backed over another Mormon. Cursing my driving, and the proliferation of the LDSers, I said some sacrilegious things. Crabtot then asked me what a Mormon was. This is not easy so early in the morning. I said a Mormon was a very nice person who wants you to look at their books all the time and Mommy just didn't have time for the Mormons today.

En route to school, she asked "Where did Mormon go?"

And I said, "She's gone to someone else's house."

Returning home I saw a thicket of Mormons on the street, one with an eye patch. They clustered together, evidently checking to see who had gone where and to what house. When I drove into my driveway, I could have sworn they knew who I was: the Crabmommy, Unconvertible.

I can see them even as I type. Up and down the street they go. I wonder if they have been to the rodeo-compound yet and if they have found Aaron in his trailer. He had a party last night. He'll be pretty hungover today. Still, I think the LDSers will like it better on the other side of the street.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lord Have Mercy On Crabmommy

I'm feeling besieged by Christians this week.

Now I know some of you are Christians out there and even some of my best friends are Christians, so the saying goes. But I am fed up with Jesus' peeps all the same.

So I just joined the BlogHer Ad network and thought I should click on their blogroll to support my fellow BlogHerians...except that I clicked on someone's blog and was treated to a post in which a natural-birth-endorsing mom explained that women experienced labor pain as a payback for "(wo)man's sin." C-sections, breech babies, all of these things did God give unto us for being bad. Such a loving God!

Okay, replying to such absurdity is too easy. But reply I did. Only to be accused of making a "personal attack" and then being referred to a passage in the Bible in which God sternly gives Eve labor pain and a husband to rule over her because of that naughty apple business. I never have understood why Christians direct non-Christians to a book they don't believe in, but then again, whoever said any of it made any sense. I'm probably going to get kicked out of BlogHer now for not supporting a sister or something. But what is the line between inappropriate and appropriate when it comes to responding to someone's personal moral high-handedness that they make public on their blog?

Just last week I went on holiday with my family to a dude ranch that turned out to have a distinctly Born-Again flavor. Pamphlets about our Lord abounded, nobody drank (which I had innocently thought to be a sign of Mormon such bloody luck) and the whole event was tainted with a whiff of piousness.

Christians, you surround me here in Wyoming. I wish I could quit you. But you are everywhere. You also seem to dominate the blogosphere. In fact, many of my readers are Christians of one sort or another and I think many of you are Mormons too. Please don't leave me, Mormons. I like your crowd. Your men are mostly very hot. I was in love with a Mormon once. He became an alcoholic after his mission and it didn't diminish his appeal in the slightest. Mormons, do not quit the Crabmommy. Many of you are stylish and I have questions for you. Do you really drink Mountain Dew all the time or is that a myth? Why is Jesus coming to Missouri of all dull places? I mean, why not Las Vegas? Mormonmommies, if you stay I promise not to mention John Krakauer.

Christians, I'm feeling a little less generous. I know we're all meant to be tolerant of others' religions but until people are tolerant of my atheism, I'm not sure I can extend the courtesy. There's plenty of evidence around us to suggest that a belief in God gets us into a bit of a global pickle. Monotheism...not a good idea in the not-so-humble opinion of Crabmommy.

But mostly, in the end, I am just plain feeling surrounded by God's people. Has anyone else noticed the proliferation of Christian mommy blogs? Why? Is the explanation the old "go forth and multiply...and then blog about it"? Christian homeschoolers with 20 kids (who feel joy in the morning), natural birthers who see a direct link between pitocin and original gals are everywhere.

And mainly I resent you because you get way more traffic than I do.