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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Even MORE Leo says the darndest things




Here are just a few of the things that have been heard around our house lately:


A few months ago we were celebrating a promotion Frank got at work. We told Leo about it and ever since he’s been asking Frank, “Daddy, do you HAVE the promotion?” (Like it’s something physical he could see!)



I told Leo, “If you need anything I’ll be in the next room.” He immediately said, “I need anything!”



Leo’s skin was looking dry so I decided he probably didn’t need a bath every night. We moved to an every-other-night schedule. On the nights we don’t take a bath I say, “We’re going to skip bath!” So after we brush his teeth he runs over to the bath tub and says, “Let’s skip bath!” I think he thinks he’s going to get to skip around in the bath tub.


I have been drilling into his head that he can’t get anything (his song choice, a food he wants, help with getting a toy out from under the couch) unless he asks nicely. Somehow he’s mixed up all his nice words and come up with this phrase, “Please may you…” so whenever he’s asked to ask nicely he says things like:

“Please may you play the choo choo train song.”

“Please may you give me nok.” (milk)

I don’t correct him because it’s so much better than screaming, “I WANT NOK!”


With all the Christmas stuff already out at stores he’s been asking, “Can we GO to Christmas?”

And by the way, the emphasis IS on the word GO. That’s how he asks questions (just like Do you HAVE the promotion?)


I heard this mom use a great line: “I don’t respond to fussing” so I’ve been using that. The other day he was fussing as he was asking for something and I said it a little wrong: “I don’t listen to fussing.”

Leo immediately stopped fussing and asked, “Do you listen to stories?”



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Abby strikes again

I’ve already complained about how inept I think Dear Abby is. Her answers are often unhelpful, ridiculous or just plain wrong. And even though I don’t agree with her answers 90% of the time, could she just stick to printing problems and answers rather than PSAs? I can’t tell you how bummed I am when I open up the paper, all excited to read about someone’s weird problem (to make me feel better about my own life), and there’s an entire column devoted to “Make sure you have your fire alarms checked” or “The importance of smiling with your teeth.”


But back to her bad advice. As I said in my last Abs rant, I hate it when someone asks her how they can broach a sensitive subject with a friend or family member and she tells them to just basically be rude. Her advice would be great if the advice-seeker didn’t want to continue having a relationship with the person. But if they’re trying to tactfully tell them something without dissolving all ties, they have to choose their words carefully. Abby always just has them say exactly what they said to her. For example, she pretty much ruined the life of a teenager with her advice below:


DEAR ABBY: I'm a junior in high school and taking multiple AP classes. With all the homework we're assigned, I sometimes need to use lunchtime to finish assignments. My problem is my friends follow me into the school library and talk to me while I'm working. Their constant chatter is distracting and prevents me from concentrating on my assignments.

I don't neglect my friends. I spend hours outside of school with them every week. But I'd rather be left alone when I'm trying to work. My friends don't understand that I'm more focused on academics and long-term goals than my short-term social life.

How can I politely get them to leave me alone when I'm working? -- FOCUSED ON MY GOALS IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR FOCUSED ON YOUR GOALS: If you haven't told your friends plainly how you feel and clearly drawn a line, you shouldn't blame them for being clueless when they cross it. Tell them you need to concentrate when you're in the library and that they are creating a problem for you. Not only will you be helping yourself, you'll be doing a favor for other students who are trying to study and who are also being distracted.


Is this how Abby thinks this will go down?

Focused girl (who I just assume is a girl): “You know what guys? I have to tell you something. I really need to concentrate when I’m in the library and you guys being here is creating a problem for me.”

Friends: “Oh, okay. We didn’t realize that; we’re so sorry! We’ll go to the cafeteria and just hang out with you after school.”


Nope. It went more like this:

Focused girl: “You know what guys? I have to tell you something. I really need to concentrate when I’m in the library and you guys being here is creating a problem for me.”

Friends: We’re creating a problem for you? We thought we were your friends but apparently we’re just problems! I guess you think you’re the only one who has to study, huh? We’re just some idiots who aren’t as smart as you? Well, you can have your library! You can just hang out in the library on the weekends while we go cow tipping without you.


Except they live in L.A. so they probably have better things to do than go cow tipping.  But the point is, here is a girl who is lucky enough to be smart and popular and now she’s just going to be smart. Now where is that going to get her? Thanks a lot, Dear Abby.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taking Trains to a New Level

And that new level is a much lower one. If Leo is at home, you can find him on the floor with one of his trains, usually the “big train,” pictured here.


It is amazing how much time he can spend  lying, crawling or scooting on the floor, doing this whole pretend thing with his train. I’m not always sure what he’s talking about but I hear things like:

“Here come the passengers.”

“All aboard!”

“Ding Ding Ding”

“Dinosaur Train, Dinosaur Train, Dinosaur Train” (singing the theme song to his favorite show).

I think sometimes he’s doing a whole episode of Dinosaur Train but I can’t be sure. He often talks quietly and mustn’t be disturbed. Just try telling him it’s time for lunch and you’ll be met with a, “NO!! I’M PLAYING WITH MY TRAIN!!” In fact, you don’t even have to say what it’s time for. I just get out, “It’s time for—” and he argues.

But I’m not complaining. I LOVE that he can entertain himself so well. I just have to remember to keep the floors clean.

This Patient has lost her Patience

Did you hear the straw break on the camel’s back today? It happened at my dentist’s office:

I came in at 11:45 for an 11:50 appointment. I needed to leave by 12:50 to pick up Leo at 1:00 (which I told them when I made the appointment).

At 12:15 I was still waiting. I asked the receptionist how much longer it will be. “If it’s going to be 15 more minutes then I probably just need to leave because I don’t think she can clean my teeth in 20 minutes.”

She goes back to ask the hygienist who says in a rude voice, “When I’m done with this patient she’ll be next.” I was steamed. I didn’t ask because I was impatient. I asked because I legitimately needed to know. Why wait another 15-20 if I couldn’t get in that day anyway?

Another ten goes by and the hygienist finally calls me back (with no apology for the wait). I said, “I don’t have a lot of time,” and she said, “You might want to reschedule then.” I said that yes, yes I would and she DARES to say, “And you might want to allow more than an hour. I mean, we ARE a DOCTOR’S office!”

I know that comment is supposed to mean, “Unexpected things come up and you might have to wait.”

But what I think it means is “We, the medical industry, believe we don’t have a responsibility to be on time. We overbook appointments and our patients just EXPECT to wait. We have never ever seen a patient at their scheduled appointment time and we never will.”

I mean, people who work in doctors’ offices have advanced degrees. Surely, there is someone in each practice who could develop a scheduling system that actually works. (My husband, Frank, could easily build one of his fancy models in Microsoft Access that determines the optimal amount of time in between appointments for each doctor’s office.)

The other day I called my regular doctor’s office’s nurses line to ask a question, which I thought was pretty timely. They didn’t call me back. The next day I followed up and finally, at the end of the day they called me back. I asked why it takes so long to return a call and the nurse said, “Our volume of calls is so large that—“


To me, it’s really that simple. And if your patients are ALWAYS kept waiting because you ALWAYS have emergencies come up, then you need to build in time for emergencies.

It reminds me of this young, right-out-college girl I once worked with. She was late every single day and every single day she had an excuse: “My roommate’s car broke down so I had to take her to work” or “My dog threw up on my outfit so I had to change.” She wasn’t lying; these things really happened to her. I told her, “It seems like you have a lot of things happen to you in the morning. I think you should build in time for these situations and aim to leave about 30 minutes earlier.”

That’s what the doctor’s offices should do!! Build in time for the patient who asks way too many questions. Build in time for the guy who needs an emergency root canal. And definitely build in time for the crazy patient who’s going to launch into a monologue about how inefficient your appointment scheduling system is.

But no longer will I let you get by with, “I mean, we ARE a DOCTOR’s office!” To that I say, “Well, I AM WRITINGGAL!”

Monday, November 08, 2010

Guinness, we’re waiting for your call

Today, Leo lined up every toy with wheels that he owns and made the longest caravan ever created by a two-year-old:



He was quite proud of himself!


Get your hands out of my food!



When I used to work in advertising, I was assigned to a popular bread account. This particular bread’s claim to fame was that their product was “hand-twisted.” Everything from their billboard ads to to their brochures had to say “hand-twisted.” When you took a tour of their facilities, you even saw these hand-twisters, people who spent all day twisting dough with their hands.

And for some reason, that was supposed to be appetizing.

I thought of those hand-twisters yesterday when Frank said, “This beer says it was ‘handcrafted.’ Why do I want someone’s hands in my beer?”

I see how something being made by hands is appealing for items like furniture, jewelry and clothing. But I don’t get it when it comes to food and beverages. Handmade doughnuts? Handcrafted wine? I mean, it’s bad enough that you may have used your feet to stomp the grapes for the wine. Now your hands are involved too?

Chick-Fil-a likes to brag that their milkshakes are hand-spun. Um, it’s okay to use a blender. Thanks.

I hope at least that they’re spun by human hands and not those cows that are always hanging around.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Halloween Scenes

The recession has hit everyone; even the train industry isn’t immune to economic woes. Instead of hiring engineers and conductors, they just hire one guy (or girl; it’s an EOE) to do both jobs. Leo paid tribute to that this Halloween when he dressed like an engineer but behaved like a conductor by taking tickets and shouting, “All Aboard!”



Two nights before Halloween Leo debuted his costume at a festival. We went with Leo RR that night but for Halloween changed it to Leo Express. On Halloween night he partied with his buddies, went trick-or-treating and then swam in his candy.


IMG_3163IMG_3161IMG_3182 IMG_3184  IMG_3174IMG_3177Leo.John.Halloween  IMG_3199 IMG_3207 IMG_3209 IMG_3211 IMG_3214

Grass is always greener


This is the only “BEFORE” picture I could find of the grass in our backyard. It’s Leo’s birthday weekend—May of this year. The grass in our backyard should have been green!




Instead, we barely had any. I would look out the window and say, “Our backyard makes me sad.”

Leo always wants to go back there because that’s where the basketball net and swing are. But it’s so depressing to trek through the sandy, rocky, sometimes muddy yard to retrieve basketballs.

Finally, we couldn’t take it anymore. We called in a specialist who said it would cost $1,300 to make our lawn look good. We needed fescue sod, he said.

We almost just accepted that and then luckily, we found Cesar. Cesar said we could do fescue seed (rather than sod) for more like $600. We liked the sound of that.

Cesar and his team planted the seed and for a couple of weeks we just saw a bunch of straw in the backyard. And then one day…





We are so happy with our new lawn! Cesar says we can’t walk on it for a few more weeks but that’s okay with us. We just like looking at it from the back window. “Our grass makes me happy,” we now say.

I can’t wait to roll around in it or better yet, chase after basketballs.