Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grammarmama: Lie or Lay?

As both a mother and the former teacher of Dude Where's My Comma? (a groundbreaking if poorly received grammar seminar for apathetic high schoolers in Wyoming), I feel myself to be in a perfect position to help parents when faced with one or both of the following problems: children with sloppy grammar, and/or parents who themselves are embarrassed about their own sloppy grammar (and therefore unable to correct their children's sloppy grammar).

Gramms is important; I truly believe it. If you have a decent grasp of it people will think you're very smart. Even if you're not. Also good gramms gives you the ability to say what you mean, mean what you say, and understand what others are saying to you even if they don't exactly know what they are saying, and even if what they are saying isn't very nice or interesting. In short, good gramms is good. And it's extremely hard to learn to speak gooder as a grownup if nobody ever taught you how to talk good when you were little.

Thus today I morph into Grammarmama: improving your grammar, one child at a time. At the end of this Grammarmama series I will test willing readers with a super-tough quiz. The first set of correct answers will entitle that Grammarmama to a delicious prize, perhaps even one of these tee-shirts from the Semicolon Appreciation Society.

Lesson the first: Lie or Lay?

My pet peeve: When Crabhubby tells Crabtot to "go and lay down and Dad will be in to tell you a goodnight story." "Lie, not lay" I correct him. Even at her tender age Crabtot knows this irritates me. So she frequently tells me to go and "lay" down. "Daddy and I say 'lay,'" she tells me. Not for long, little girl!!! Grammarmama will beat it out of you!!!

"Lie" vs. "lay" is a tough one to explain without resorting to dry terminology involving transitive and intransitive verbs. So I'm just gonna tell it to you straight: if you're thinking about reclining or having someone else go and recline or take a nap or have a horizontal Time Out or whatever, you speak of "lying down." Like so:

Mommy attempts to lie down for half an hour during the child's Quiet Time.
If, however, you are thinking of putting something down, or having someone else put something down—like having Grandma put the baby in the crib—then it's "lay" you're looking for, e.g.,
Grandma lays the baby down to sleep.
The hen lays her eggs.
You see, in the above, someone or something is actually doing more than merely snoozing. So please, tell your teenage daughter she isn't going to "lay out" and get a tan. She's not doing anything except reclining her lazy body. So, schlubby and diffident adolescent that she is, she's off to "lie" out and get a tan. Not "lay."

Things do, however, get trickier in the past tense. When it's been and done, "lie" turns to "lay" and "lay" turns to "laid." But "lay" never turns to "laid."** So you never "laid" down for three minutes before the baby started fussing, you merely "lay" down for a few before it all went bust. Let's reprise that first sentence, but now put it into the past tense:
Although Mommy lay down for an hour, she could not sleep, for the child made too much noise.
So, in the past tense, it's "Mommy lay down on her bed for a while." NOT "Mommy laid down..." The mommy hen, however, laid her eggs last week. And Grandma laid the baby down to sleep before sneaking outside to smoke cigarettes and quaff a bottle of sherry.

Phew! Indeed, the issue gets much more confusing with tenses and so forth. Man! Kind of makes you want to go and lie down, doesn't it? But for now, let's stick to the main problem, shall we? If you want to learn one thing and one thing only about all this lay/lie biz, just know that you mostly just wanna lie down. So next time someone in your house goes to "lay" down, you lay down the law. The law of grammar, that is.

Anyone else got a grammar pet peeve?

And if anyone knows why Blogger insists on randomly mixing single- and double-spaced formatting in one blog entry, DO DIVULGE!!!

**Lay never turns to laid in past tense, unless someone is involved in something sexual. But if you aren't getting laid (which also involves a process in which someone doing more than merely snoozing [one hopes]) then it's lay you're looking for. Get it?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lame Parenting Advice: We Have a Winner!

A hearty thanks to all those who entered the swimsuit competition, sharing your lame parenting advice nuggets with me. Competition was seriously stiff; it's amazing how much utter nonsense we moms are told when we produce spawn: from the bottle mom receiving "breast is best" (Jennifer!) to being told to avoid rounded car seats (Hi, Marina), to being given books that include bits on how to avoid raising a gay son (Bklynmom!). Of course having your crunchy mom-friend suggest a placenta-cake for family noshing is always a sensible tip for the new mama to to take home from the hospital (Hi, Mommyknows!).

Indeedy, I had a good chuckle reading the entries and truly think we should compile a book of these, to give out to family members and friends when people have babies; i.e., Moms' Advice on Bad Advice – a cautionary guide to help those unhelpful ones around us refrain from helping us altogether.

Before I announce the winner, here, for your delectation, is a recap from your comments, a selection of the lamest, most ridiculous advice given to you mamas:

Got to love a lady who tells you colicky crying is just exercise! Nice one, Meg! And Lina, to be told by hookers that your kid needs to cover up! Too much!! Indeed, so many of us have been told to cover up our cold babies. But to be stopped in the grocery and told never to let a kid near the cold stuff without a hat—that's pushing it. Competition got really tight with the next three that I'm going to mention: Pennryoo was advised never to eat in front of a male child unless he's eating too. Too weird for speech! Elizabeth's kindly aunt suggested she tape her baby's ears back every night to flatten them out! Good idea! And then there is Samantha, who was told "a crabby mommy makes a crabby baby." For obvious reasons, this one stuck in my mind; except, Samantha, I thinks she's right. In my case at least. ☺ So that disqualifies you from the jackpot prize which MUST be awarded for the top tidbit of entirely lame-o advice.

Speaking of, while competition was close, one entry still stands out in my mind's eye:
buttrflyty, who shares with us, compliments of her grandma the following:

Women shouldn't hold infants while menstruating because it will give them colic.

Right on, Grams!

So, buttrflyty, email me me your deets at crabmommy at gmail dot com and you shall receive a $100 gift card from Land's End. Everyone else, well done and tune in for the next freebie opportunity.

And for those of you sick to death of my comps right now, yes I know. You want some content here. It returns tomorrow, with installment number 2 of Randomommy, swiftly followed by Grammarmama and an assortment of tidbits that shall not include any hocking, pimping, or otherwise courting the cyber-populace with swag. Not for a few weeks at least.

All this unsolicited advice inspired me to write about a nasty chick who decided to tell me how to mom Crabtot in a restaurant recently. For more, please go to the bloglet for When Parents Attack!

Friday, April 18, 2008

FREE STUFF: Swagilicious Designer Swimwear Giveaway from Land's End

It's that time of the year. When you have to get a swimsuit. And showcase those wibbly bums, swinging underarms, and jibbly mom-tummies to the world.

Ah, summer in a swimsuit! Not so easy for the postpartumites among us. Or those of us who like to use spawning offspring as an excuse for getting zero exercise.

Thankfully a flattering swimsuit can do serious damage control, and ladies, I have 'em for you, right here. Land's End is offering $100 in the form of a swaggy gift card, exclusively available from Crabmommy. Yes, there are those of you who, it seems, feel that my Dollar Store prizes just aren't cutting it. And there are also many of you out there in blogspace who troll blogs for the free and swagilicious treats that may be offered therein. And so I welcome you, one and all, mommy vultures seeking free stuff, and loyal readers who might be a tad tired of my cheapmommy offerings.

Back to swimming, I think many of us feel we don't have quite the mombod we'd like to have. Me, I have a mom-flap. I also call it my blog-flap. But Land's End can help. Because they're making these quite fab sucky-inny sexy fat-smooshing suits that make a jigglebod look quite svelte. For example, you've got your: Slenderizer Swimsuits. "Built with a revolutionary fabric with slimming power, these suits can slim a silhouette in seconds. The suits range from tankinis and one-piece tanks to skirted styles and halters with all-over slimming power." Cool beans!

Crabmommy best likes Isola: "Inspired by the elegance of Venice, these suits bring fashion from the runways to the beach with designer touches such as ruching, silver hardware, side piping and emphasized necklines." Basically what you're talking about here is suities that make you look all retro-glam as though you're about to push off to Positano for the summer on your yacht. There's one that makes me think of Monica Vitti in L'Avventura. Or if your hubby doesn't make you watch posh old Italian films, then think Gwynnie in the Talented Mr. Ripley.

So the point is, if you're feeling chunky, or even if you 'aint (whoever you are, we hate you), Land's End will give you a spot of bodacious glamor if you win this giveaway. And if you don't like anything in the catalogue, you can sign up for a Custom Suit from these good peeps, where you pick fabric, cut, color etc.

Can anyone say "ridiculously swagtastic!"?

Now we get to the tricky part. You want your $100 gift card. But I want something too. I want, and need, your good comments. And so I'm going to ask you to hotclick it over to the bloglet, read my piece on lame parenting advice, and come back to me with an answer to the question posed at the end. Post your answer either in my comments here on this post, or else at the Cookie bloglet page and I will check both. The best answer wins. What's this? you say. I have to work for my gift card? You bet your booty. Peeps, you want free gear, you have to quid pro quo me. We all do shameful things for money. Some of us turn tricks. Some of us make people comment on our blogs. Some of us troll the internet all day looking for free stuff. It's all good!!

So check out the post, give me your funniest/silliest/lamest answer, and I will put you in line to win the Land's End $100 prize. The competition closes one week from today. Got it?

$100 of swimsuit sassiness from Land's End. With your name on it.

Yay! (And if anyone can tell me how to stop Blogger from formatting my posts with this mysterious single-and double-spaced-in-combination nonsense, hey, your name's in the running too.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

FREE STUFF! Schwagilicious

Yes. If you are Alexis, you get the free Dollar Store pregnancy test I so generously offered here for my last Dollar Store Giveaway. Congrats, Alexis!

Speaking of Dollar Stores, I just heard about the 99c cookbook.
However, I don't think the recipe book itself costs 99c and therefore I unfortunately cannot offer it as a prize in my next Dollar Store Giveaway.

The real question is, does this cookbook utilize my favorite find at the Crabtown Dollar Store, mango-flavored pineapple strips? One can only hope.

On the subject of Giveaways and Free Stuff I am pleased to announce for all your mommy vultures out there in search of freebies (and there are a surprisingly large number of you lot out there in cyberspace, oh yes indeedy), the PRs have responded to my demands for schwagiliciousness here at Crabmom. And you will be glad to know that we will soon be giving away quite a few high-end goodies for your totlets and momselves. So please, those of you for whom Dollar Store prizes aren't quite cutting it, pretend you like me, and come back for the schwwwwag. If you bookmark, it will come.

Last, rounding off the freebie theme, do visit the bloglet today and find out about free downloadable paper cuteness, and unbearably cute $3 paper Russian nesting dolls so adorable I almost want to eat them or pinch them or murder them with love.

And if I ate paper nesting dolls, that would turn me into a nesting doll too, now, wouldn't it?

Food for thought.

p.s. Stay tuned for new mini-series to debut here at Crabmommy as soon as I can pull myself together, hook up my wireless router, and stop blogging on the floor next to the cable socket, which is most unpleasant...When all is wired up and unwired and so forth here at Crabmommy in the Crabcity abode, you will see the launch of Grammarmama. Because for those of you who don't know, I once taught grammar courses entitled "Dude Where's My Comma?" And since so many of us have poorer grammar than our tots I thought myself uniquely qualified as both a grammar teacher and a mom to point you in the right direction. With my Grammarmama tips, designed specifically for the grammatically-challenged parent, you too will learn how to speak and write a little better than your kids. I hope. All syntax tips and punctuation examples will be themed to parenthood, and will incorporate words such as "spank" and "time out" and "bloody thankless job." Fun with words! Right here. I promise.

My Random Observations series will also return. Random Observations consists of musings from the household, incorporating such topics as the bounciness of bread containing flax. Forthcoming ruminations on homemaker trivia will include the blinding array of cracker brands at supermarkets. Back by popular demand, Random Observations will be renamed more succinctly, viz. Randomommy. Look out for it. And feel free to send me your own randomommy observations from the jungles of domesticity for the chance to GUEST-POST on Crabmom. Ooooooh!
crabmommy at gmail dot com

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Blossoms and Stalactites

Last month, this is what I saw out of my window in Crabtown, and it was good:I truly loved this insane shelf of snow and ice. I wish I could convey to you how amazing and deep and wide it was. But while my photos aren't fab, I'd bet even a pro photographer couldn't have captured the absurd scale of this thing. It was like a sand dune. Only upside down. And made of, uh, snow. Okay, so that doesn't make sense. Maybe another picture will give more immediacy to the frosty 'tites teetering at the edge of my vision. Okay, so still inadequate to the sight itself. Anyhoo, this snow-ice-bedangled thing hung outside the window next to the table where I worked, begging me to stare at it and think on it. And so I did and I have, and here is my poem:

Oh! Giant white lip, how do you hang?
A mini-mount beneath the mountain
Such a prong! A veritable
Mega-beak of snow.
Your clinging bulk
Coldly keeps me company
Thawing the ice chest
of my heart's typical tundra.
Okay, does anyone know the Secret Diaries of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend? If so, then you will recognize within my own humble efforts the ghost of a genius poem written by fictional British teen and aspiring poet Adrian, entitled "Norway." It has the best first line ever:
Norway, land of difficult spelling
And now that we have moved to Crabcity, the scene is a touch different. And it, too, is good. Very.Your spring, how does it hang? Shoot me your best weather description.

p.s. for those who entered the Dollar Store Preg-o test Giveaway the winner is Alexis. CONGRATULATIONS, Alexis. (Send me an email at crabmommy at gmail dot com and include your address. Very soon a pregnancy test will be winging its way towards you. Yay! Schuh-weet!)

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Dear chums,

I lied when I said I would only post something earnest and from the heart once a year. I feel a pressing need to follow up that first earnest post with this post, which is also going to be earnest. Because once you start getting real and being open, it seems you can't stop. A dam bursts and the naked, wincing, vulnerable real me must out.

I've always resisted what people have told me. I've always resisted the truth: I am negative person. And negativity —despite what I have said in praise of it—is not a positive thing. (That is why it is called "negativity" and not "positivity"!) But I'm willing to set all that aside for now and give the other side a chance. I'm not totally making a commitment to positivity. And I am not totally saying "Cheers, negativity! Thanks and goodbye and have a bad life without me!" But I am saying that I am a little over it. I am a little bit over this whole crabby thing. I want change. It gets old beating the same drum. And to grow as a person one needs to be open to suggestion.

So I'm willing to try medication.

I've been fighting it all my adult life, but when my good friend, Jege, who is very similar in disposition to me, suggested I try something that she herself has found to be helpful, I thought why the heck not? In the words of many a Miss Universe, I'll try anything once. And every day is an adventure. And life is for living to your fullest potential. And we need to help solve poverty and homelessness. And I really want to work in orphanages. And all that. And I do. But for now, it's baby steps. I mean, if you're going to work in an orphanage and such, you can't be all negative and peppery with the children.

For me, baby steps means first and foremost giving up this persona I have been fighting against for so long, and showing who I really am. But for that to happen I need help. You know, people, it takes a lot to lay down the lance and say "I have a problem." It's easy to cloud the issue with irony, laughter, snorting, contempt. And I think many of you know what I am only just beginning to see: that it's easy to point at others and laugh, but inside, you may be crying. Which is why you are pointing your finger at others. To stop people from looking at you and saying, "Wow, that girl is completely bloody crying inside!" (Not that you can literally see inside me but I think you know what I mean. Which is to say that I am not literally crying either but in fact, metaphorically crying on my metaphorical insides, which you can see if you are prone to metaphors and good at visualization.)

To cut a long story short, I'm tired of fighting. And ready to give the following a shot (some of you might want to try it too). [Please click on the image to enlarge; I can't for the life of me save this at the right size]

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Trista Baby" Diaper Bags: Something Smelly This Way Comes

Yes, I swore I'd never write about celebrities on my blog.
So I'm not.

I'm going to write about shalebritays. (The desired pronunciation is that of Sascha Baron Cohen persona Bruno, the German fashionista. Make that Cherman fashionisto... Anyone ever see Bruno? I think he's making a movie about Bruno...I just know the hilarious Ali G. sketch.)

So, since I must report on all things newsworthy in the world of mothering: shalebritay Trista Sutter. Does anyone remember her? How could we not? Even those of us without televisions knew a bobblehead bobble-boobed bachelorette had married some big bonehead Ken doll on television and received a lot of money for it.

Now they are "happily married," have a bouncing baby boy, and Mom's pimping out a new line of diaper bags that cost $145 apiece. Me, I think something smells a tad funky round them thar parts.

Why am I speaking in dialect?

Haven't a clue.

What was the point of this post, exactly? I don't know. I'm bored with it already. Mocking shalebritays is truly shooting fish in a barrel, innit?

Okay, so here's something very much more profound: My Dollar Store Giveaways! You who feel brave and have not yet put your name in the hat for the Dollar Store Pregnancy Test Prize Drawing, please do! I've got a preg-o test for one lucky winner. Indeed, while I have just moved both north and west, I still found time to purchase a pregnancy test from the Dollar Store of Crabtown. And your name is on it.

Because when you need to know if you're in the pink...a Dollar Store pregnancy test may help you find out. Then again, maybe it won't.

Seriously I get a kick out of the notion of buying dollar-store prego tests...even though some of you have told me they're dead accurate. Sign your name in below, gals! The competition will close at midnight three days henceforth.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Positive Parenting

Can anyone say "she takes herself too seriously?" Even if it's only once a year, I can safely say that last post made me cringe.

Anyone would think I were running for president.
Against a witchy lady who would do anything to take me down.
Because I am incredibly good-looking and articulate.
And she is all peppery because she has a bad marriage.
But I shall prevail.
For I represent something of a post-racial solution to our country's ills.
And I am also incredibly good-looking and by God am I ever articulate.

Wait, who were we talking about again?

All this drama has got me thinking I'm bigger than I am... Anyhoo. Let's get out of earnest mode and back to what one usually finds here at Crabmommy: humble, tentative thoughts on parenting.

Here's something that happened recently. I thought it significant enough to warrant its own title:


Mom: Here are your peanuts.
Crabtot: Thank you, Mom. [pause] Mom?
Me: What?
Crabtot: You didn’t thank me for saying thank you.