Things That Must Go: In Support of Democracy and Progress, and the Land of the Free Giveaway!

Wow. Remind me not to hook up to the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival next quarter. Unless a few more of you fine giveaway hoppers actually subscribe to my feed (or by email), and agree to bear a fourth child for me.

Because there were 661 entries, I decided to do a poll and let you pick the winner. Unfortunately, I had to disqualify anyone who mentioned high gas prices, George Bush, and/or the fact that I should be playing the Glad Game instead. Not that I disagree (necessarily), but those are just a bit . . . obvious.

If you left a cool TTMG that was unfairly ommitted from this poll due to my random ability to read multiple comments (which I’m not used to, unlike some people), leave a comment and I’ll see about giving your TTMG another shot. Your write-in vote counts!

In the Running (scroll down for the poll box)

1) Alisha @ Party of Five: Spongebob Squarepants. Sorry to all you SBSP fans but the little yellow man is crude and obnoxious. I have no idea how my four-year old even knows about him. . . .the episodes I have seen I CAN’T stand. . . . Cartoon Network, you must go. FAREWELL! . . . (YES! YES! FINALLY! Someone else who doesn’t get why it’s so cool to like the pesky porifera. Down with Spongebob!).

2) LivingforGod: Things that must go include pride, selfishness, rebellion against God, using God’s name in vain, provocative/immodest clothing, and asbestos in old homes. (I’m not so sure about the first five, but definitely that asbestos MUST GO).

3) Tabby: My “Mommy Wings” must go. My son went to scout camp last week and as I was waving goodbye I could feel (and I swear I could hear too) my upper arm flab waving back and forth more than my hand.

Cold sores also must go. Especially since my husband thinks it’s just terribly funny to announce to the entire grocery aisle that “the cream I need for my lip herpes is really expensive.” Thankfully (for him) I’ve decided that he doesn’t need to go! (At least he is anatomically specific).

4) Megan: Having to do the dishes…maybe hubby can help every once in a while??? (Not terribly original, I agree, but just this morning Grampa sent an email about a bumper sticker he saw: No husband has ever been shot washing the dishes. It’s the little things, people.

5) Anna @ The View from My Shoes: The people who say that we have too many kids (really we don’t…just four so far) MUST GO! When they are ignorant enough to say that I always ask which child they would like me to get rid of. That usually shuts them up. (Although sometimes rejoinders like this can proceed from the impulse of the moment, often they are the result of previous study. ($10 iTunes card for the first person to name that movie, not including my sister.)

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Thanks for playing along! Poll closes Sunday at midnight, at which time I’ll announce the winner of the Hanes $50 gift card.

This coming weekend’s Things That Must Go giveaway features your choice of books: Nora Robert’s latest, Tribute, or Joan Wickersham’s The Suicide Index: Putting my father’s Death in Order. Basically you can choose escapist romance or romantic/tragic escape. Come back on Saturday to share some more Things That Must Go!

Wouldn’t say “crap” if her mouth were full of it

I’ve posted several pictures of Susan looking sweet and guileless, but I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone. Grandma thinks Susan is not a typical middle child: she has no difficulty asserting herself and she is not what you’d call a peacemaker.

She is also why I gave up on baby-proofing three years ago. Lately she has been trying to express interest in my “makeup,” which, since I don’t actually own any, means that she dissected a bunch of tampons and opened a few of those sealed contact lens packets. Today she found my concealer (okay, so I do have makeup, if five different kinds of concealer count) and for a few minutes I wondered if she’d gotten a new birthmark shaped like a port-wine stain.

On My Nightstand

My sister’s friend told her recently that she doesn’t have time to read, being a stay-at-home mom. This is incomprehensible to me. Not the not-having time. The how can you possibly handle life as a stay-at-home mom if you don’t lock yourself in the bathroom on a regular basis and read?

Jennifer at Snapshot is pretty cool, so I’m checking out 5 Minutes for Books. I’m almost scared to check out other people’s nightstands; will probably make me feel  inadequate and shallow. I’m only reading The Suicide Index because I got a review copy (review coming soon). And at least I know where to find my Bible now.

(Incidentally, I think I own every single Harlequin romance ever written by Susan Napier, but only because she is a smokin’ New Zealander).

Was it the Mountain Dew I drank in the first trimester? Spot has the Other “D” Syndrome

Dick is ready (oh, is he ready) to have another kid. Last week he said for the first time that we need to have another try at making a boy. This is almost a relief to me, because before when he always said the right things about how happy he is that we have three girls, I never quite believed him.

I’m not ready for another kid, and so I talked it over with my good friend Tara, because open communication is important in any marriage. One reason I’m reluctant is that I feel extremely lucky to have three perfectly healthy kids. Why push it? Do you know how many things can go wrong? The odds on having four normal kids seem almost astronomical.

Here’s my baby, Spot. Not such a baby anymore. We first noticed something ‘off’ with her eyes at six months. She’d outgrown the usual newborn cross-eyedness, but her right eye was often not tracking with the left. We hoped she’d outgrow that, along with those strange grunting noises and the diaper-wetting.

At nine months I took her to a pediatric ophthalmologist who couldn’t get her to do her eye trick. Like a recalcitrant car that insists on running smoothly the second you take it into the shop. The cross-eye doctor said her eye muscles were all equally developed and that it was probably just a baby thing that would resolve itself. Don’t you love doctor-speak?

Dick thought we should get her a patch, but I couldn’t imagine her keeping it on. Plus, the doctor hadn’t actually recommended the pirate look.

So now she’s 21 months old, and the mysterious eye thing is not resolved. It comes and goes and I call her cross-eyed baby sometimes. Today we saw a different pediatric ophthalmologist. It took his assistant approximately 46 seconds to diagnose Duane Syndrome. Okay. Can we not call things “syndromes” unless they’re seriously life-changing/threatening/coma-inducing? Also, could we not name syndromes after your beer-drinking uncle who likes to watch NASCAR?

Avoidance? Huh? Anyway, Duane Syndrome means that in the 6th week of pregnancy, her 6th cranial nerve didn’t hook up with the 6th eye muscle that it’s supposed to control. Her left eye cannot turn out past the midline. It’s completely untreatable and means (to Dick) that she will never be great at basketball and (to me) that she will never be a fighter pilot.

To Tara, it’s a good reason to have a fourth kid because, as she pointed out, we no longer have three perfectly normal children anyway.

On the one hand (more like ninety-nine out of a hundred hands), I’m grateful beyond expressing that it’s not something worse. Spot has the most common, least complicated type (I) of Duane Syndrome, and she seems to be compensating well for it. DS is more common in girls than boys (3:2) and not hereditary and usually doesn’t affect quality of life.

Unless you wanted to be a fighter pilot.

When do you tell your kids that they can’t become something when they grow up? Do you ever tell them? Do you take your son aside and tell him he’s tone deaf before he tries out for American Idol? Do you tell your daughter that the tallest ballerinas are only 5’7″ and that since she’ll most likely grow to 5’10”, she might want to pick a different dream?

When do I tell Spot she can’t be a fighter pilot?

Would You Let Your Seven-year Old Read Books Six & Seven of Harry Potter?

First, a confession. I never got past book two of the Harry Potter series. Not because they weren’t engaging, but because I got lazy, I guess. Where an 800+ page book used to seem like a challenge, now it honestly makes me a little tired. And it’s not my favorite genre. That would be romance or romantic suspense or historical romance or romantic mystery historical suspense. You get the idea.

So I was talking to my friend who taught fourth grade. She has read practically every YA book, and especially every single fantasy-type book. This is my friend Tracey who, with our friend Melinda, I used to sit around on Friday nights reading books in high school. You know, when we weren’t out being extremely sought-after at parties.

Tracey loves Harry Potter — I think she said book five is her favorite, but the whole series is smashing! And I bragged casually mentioned how my soon-to-be second grader (Sally) was almost done with that one.

Oh, but with book six and seven, she said, you can definitely tell they’re not for kids anymore. Because the characters are growing up, they start swearing some, and Harry isn’t even really going to school, he’s fighting the bad guy, so it’s pretty scary.

Sally just showed me on the dust jacket of The Half-Blood Prince: “Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love,” hand over her mouth, smirking and rolling of eyes. So it seems Tracey was right about the kissing, too.

What to do? I know this is only the first in a long line of books, movies, songs, clothes, etc that I’m going to have to allow or disallow. Clothes are easy. They’re modest or they’re not. Music is harder because I like a few songs that have questionable lyrics (but really good melodies!). Movies are pretty easy so far, even though Dick periodically tries to convince me that Sally can watch a a PG-13 movie with him. (She can’t. I’m in charge. The End.)

But books? What if my mom had not allowed me to read Wuthering Heights or Phantom of the Opera at 12? It wasn’t until a month ago that I watched the Gerard Butler Phantom and realized he was old enough to be Christine’s father, and just how disturbing that is. And Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at 13? (though anyone who can get through John Galt’s speechifying deserves a few romantic encounters).

Compared to what most kids see on TV, this probably seems like a really silly question. But, my kids aren’t most kids.

The best answer, dang it, is for me to read the books first, right? Please don’t say that. How about I watch the movies? Is the last movie coming out soon?

What would you do? Have you read books six and seven? Have your kids? Will they give Sally nightmares or scar her for life?

Things That Must Go: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime. Also, Free Undies — a $50 Hanes Giveaway!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

***Updated*** This giveaway is now closed. I’ll be posting a poll with the top 5 TTMG entries later today. Come back to vote for the winner!***

(If you’re here from the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival, you can skip my post if you’re pressed for time (really — Just subscribe to my feed while you’re here, and you can catch me later, after all the giveaway madness is over. For now, leave a comment with your Things That Must Go to be eligible for the $50 Hanes gift certificate, good for anything in their online store, plus shipping. Deadline July 30th, Wednesday, midnight.)

Welcome to Things That Must Go. I thought about postponing for a week, because I haven’t done last week’s entries justice yet and we just got back from camping for Pioneer Day. But Grampa forwarded a most serendipitous picture that I must share.

If you Blog Hop at all, you probably heard about the BlogHer conference, and, even if you didn’t get spoiled by the swag there, you might still be pretty blase about bloggy giveaways. So, free underwear? Even 50 dollars worth? Pretty smokin’ prize, huh? Especially now that Hanes promises to solve Susan’s wedgie problem, just in time for back-to-school. There’s nothing worse than a wedgie on your first day.

Or, if you’re not ready to talk Princess backpacks and class schedules yet, Hanes is partnering with Disney for a Vacation in Comfort promotion. Although, the “family of four” part of the vacation prize must go. Right? I mean, have a third kid, and you’re always trying to decide which one has to stay home. Or have ten, and it’s Survivor: Who gets to go with the family to Disney Edition.

To enter the $50 Hanes giveaway (good for anything in their online store, plus shipping), simply leave a comment with your Things That Must Go before midnight Wednesday. Good luck! And, to get you thinking, here are mine (ridiculous first, then sublime):

1. The Redneck Tanktop. Taken outside a Walmart (of course!) in Gardendale, AL.

(I regret to say that I don’t know to whom I should give credit for this fantastic photo. If anyone knows who is responsible for such fashion and/or photographic genius, please advise).

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2. Death that comes too early. I’d hesitate to mention this so close to the Redneck Tanktop, but I think that Randy Pausch wouldn’t mind the juxtaposition. Also, it’s been on my mind ever since I heard the news (on CNN, at a fast food joint on Bear Lake). I discovered and posted the video of Prof. Pausch’s Last Lecture four months ago. At the time, some bloggers were speculating that he wasn’t really dying because he’d outlived his pancreatic cancer prognosis. What a way to prove those bloggers wrong.

I know (relatively) little about Randy Pausch, and I know that around the world people die every day before their time (or so it feels). And yet. I can’t think of this man’s wife and three kids without imagining how empty their house must feel tonight. Whatever your beliefs: resurrection or reincarnation or recycle; whatever your faith: strong or weak or nonexistent, good examples of living well are beyond value, and I mourn for this complete stranger, and his family. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his last lecture:

I probably got more from that dream and not accomplishing it than I got from any of the ones that I did accomplish.

It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.

and, for Marcy who will soon be free to date again:

Syl said, It took me a long time but I’ve finally figured it out. When it comes to men that are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do. It’s that simple. It’s that easy.

Now it’s your turn. Share your Things That Must Go — ridiculous or sublime, humorous or humbling. And hug your kids tonight (unless that would wake them up. Then just whisper that you love them. Because you can.)

I’ll be posting the winners from last week’s LLBean giveaway and this week’s Hanes giveaway on Thursday. Thanks for participating. I just love reading your things that must go. Somehow complaining sounds a lot better in writing.

Banana Popsicles: Potassium, Fiber, and Chocolate, Oh My!

Last week I threatened to throw the blender off our balcony if it got left out ONE MORE TIME. Dick likes to make smoothies, which is great because the kids love them, they’re pretty healthy, and blah blah blah.

But who has to clean up after them? Me. That’s who. And somehow putting the blender back, which takes five seconds, is the absolute last straw.

I told Dick that the kitchen was like my office, and how would he like it if I messed up his office?

Of course he wouldn’t like that, he admitted, but now he has another way to irritate me: asking if I’m ever going to do the dishes in my office. So, I’d like to take back what I said about the kitchen being my office. I hereby lay no claim whatsoever on the kitchen or its contents.

In that spirit, I’ve been doing more “Cook with Your Children” stuff. I want my kids to learn to cook, be aware of sound nutritional principles (whether we live up to them or not) AND to appreciate that the food on the table doesn’t just magically appear.

One of our more successful experiments so far is Banana Popsicles, which we first had during spring break at The Well-Rounded Woman‘s house. Apparently in Arizona it’s a good idea to start freezing your fruit in March.

For this project I had only one lovely assistant, Susan, as Spot was napping and Sally was attending that ill-fated musical with Grandma.

Here she is holding the ingredients. I don’t know how bananas can be both green and freckled at the same time.

I like my bananas ripe in general, but they need to be pretty firm for the freezing and impaling process. Speaking of processes, here’s the complicated recipe:

I stole the phrase “not lengthwise” off recipezaar.com, I think. In case that sounds like “not-counter-clockwise” or something, here’s what they look like before you pop them in the freezer:

And here’s Aunt Marcy demonstrating the proper dipping technique, or at least, what results from proper dipping technique. (Notice her new pretty not-wedding ring):

Dick’s boss’s name in Egypt was Falak. She was kind of a pill, that woman. Here in Utah we have neighbors named Fallick. Anyway.

Whatever your name, these Banana Popsicles will work for you! Next time I’d like to try a layer of peanut butter topping (think Reese’s makes some), freezing for a minute, and then a layer of chocolate. Yu-um.

This weekend’s Things That Must Go features a $50 Giveaway from Hanes! (More Underwear + Socks = Less Frequent Laundry Loads!). Check back to share your Things That Must Go and to enter the contest.