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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Farting The Sound Of Music

Samu's been singing before he could talk. Unlike his big brother, Samu can actually carry a tune. The Air Head, although he has a memorable husky voice, follows a melody sounding like Bob Dylan being birthed by a rhinoceros. It's painful entertainment.

Recently, Samu's been singing "My Favorite Things" from The Sound Of Music. Who knows where he's learning it, the Kindergarten Glee club perhaps. After school programs make kids do the weirdest things.

Naturally, boys can't leave well enough alone. After stamping the tune into their heads, they decided to play with the lyrics and change it to some of their favorite things.

Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens

Fart, burp and poopies
And boogers and buttocks

The adaptation went on. And on. Rodgers and Hammerstein must be turning in their graves. They should be proud, however - they got my numbskulls to goof off at 3/4 timing. Not an easy time signature.

When they were done bastardizing that song, we moved on to another classic: "Saturday Night," by the Bay City Rollers (there's a trivia question).

I figured it's also a good way to teach them how to spell Saturday.

So I chanted the chorus, "S-A...T-U-R-D-A-Y...NIGHT!"

Then I asked them, "What does that spell?"

"Turd!! No, no, no..Turdy!"

Honestly. I'm not even gonna go there with Aretha.

Bay City Rollers: Saturday Night

Friday, January 27, 2012

Show Me The Proce$$

Despite the fact that I didn't go to college, I've given my boys no say in the matter - they are going to college. Should they challenge me when the time comes, their alternative will be to enlist with the Israeli Defense Force. I think the boys will make the right decision given that choice, don't you?

But the way schools are re-focusing their agenda, I'm hoping they'll be enthusiastic about pursuing higher education anyway. In my day, the cookie-cutter standards were based on memorization. It's why I loathed Social Studies - who cares about the Gold Rush or the bubonic plague? How come they never mentioned the Flintstones or Little House On The Prairie?

Algebra, on the other hand, piqued my interest to no end. The mysterious X factor. Trying to figure it out was all consuming. When I learned later on that algebra isn't so much math, as it is a creative problem solving process, it explained why I'm always getting ripped off at the cash register.

But that's where the school's are headed now. Critical thinking - show me the process. It's called the "Common Core," and if your kid is anywhere between Pre-K through sixth grade, you've been hearing about it. Unless you're in Alaska or Texas where I assume survival is critical thinking in itself.

According to a parent workshop I attended, by 2014 all state testing, in forty-some-odd states, will incorporate the new format.

In a nutshell, it's read, process and react.

This sounds easy, but believe me, I've worked with a few twenty-year old kids who had trouble multi-tasking.

Go tell the boss his client's here and bring back the stack of mail.

"Whaaaat? How'm I gonna do ALL that?!"

Critical thinking. We're starting to teach this in America now? My generation is so screwed when it's time to retire.

In the meantime, here's what I've learned that can be done to prepare your kids. Read. A lot. Interact and ask questions, kind of like Dora, only you don't have to blink as much - or stand deathly still until they answer. Help them articulate and formulate their answers because by the time they're in third grade, they're going to need to write a best selling essay.

I asked the literacy coach how much handwriting and spelling counted - she said, "Not as much as sentence structure."


"But they have to clearly articulate their thoughts."

Oh. So, when Zuki writes stuff like, "I throwed him the the scinse," or "Can you buyed me u wach," we need to work on that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Good Thing

You know those cliche scenes of the protagonist being the last to be picked for a team? Well, that never happened to me. It's not that I was popular, it's that most city schools don't have yards to play in, we have stuffy, stinky gyms. We're lucky if they're not co-ed and even then, it's overcrowded. We don't play Dodge Ball because that would be like target practice encouraging drive-by shootings or gang beatings.

Of course, I'm exaggerating. We all know drive-by shootings happen in L.A., not New York but that doesn't stop me from avoiding Chinatown on Chinese New Year. The Chinese mob are notorious for shooting everybody except the target and what better time to practice than Chinese New Year? Happy New Year, by the way.

But again, I'm delaying the topic. I'm here today to talk about a good thing. A very good thing. It's called a Read-A-Thon and it's a fundraising event that's been introduced to Zuki's school by the current PTA team. The object is for every student to pledge a set goal of books to read and get sponsors to donate towards the goal.

Isn't it a fantastic idea?

We're not pushing candies to diabetics or knickknacks to hoarders to raise money. We're reading books. And with the money, we can replace the lightbulbs. No actually, we're replacing worn out books. An idea that's foreign to our local library, apparently.

Also, the drive appeared in the January 13th issue of the Woodside Herald but that's not the exciting part. The real news is: I wrote it. Yes ma'am; my first published piece in print.

And I'm working on my best Jerry Lewis impression just in case they need a spokesperson for TV.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beauties And The Midget Beasts

The boys met Rebecca and Melissa - pictured here. These beautiful girls are the daughters of very good friends who moved to New Zealand when the girls were wee tots. The reason this meeting was so special to me was because of who was missing - my sister.

Long story short: my sister died thirteen years ago and I've had very little or rather, no contact with her daughter. My niece and Rebecca were best friends when they were babies. They're the same age, so seeing Rebecca now, is a reflection in time of how my niece must be doing.

I feel like their aunt by association - approximately five degrees of separation. These lovely ladies are not my daughters but because I like to take credit for things I didn't do, I am so proud of them. The boys, especially Zuki, are totally in love. I'm glad he has such excellent taste. They're smart, gorgeous and entirely so sweet, my teeth are rotting thinking about it. Damn, I'm really getting old.

Rebecca (Zuki/Samu) Melissa

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oh, That Samu

Age has nothing to do with experience. When it comes to babies and kids, age is just a marker. If your baby isn't walking at 15 months, then I say, sit back and have a cold one because once that thing starts walking you're not going to have a chance to finish anything but a shot of vodka. And you'll need that, too by the way.

Big brother, Zuki liked to take it easy. Talking and walking...what for? He made raising baby so easy, that we decided to have another! But his little brother has always kept me on edge. Even pregnant, I couldn't rest between the hiccups and the skinny elbow poking out from my stretchy blouse. He started walking at exactly eleven months and twenty-nine days. He walked for a day and then took off like lightening towards the nearest speeding car - laughing all the way.

When he entered Kindergarten, I wondered when he'd start pushing the panic button - just for shits and giggles. Kindergarteners love experimenting with strings. You know, the ones that are attached to their parents wrists and head? They play them like marionettes dancing in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Apparently, he figured it out last week. I got that heart stopping phone call from school. "You need to pick up your son - he's accident."

You always brace yourself for the worst. Hospital trip or possible law suit? But no, all it was - was number two. He didn't make it to the midget-throne in time.

I cleaned him up. I tried not to emphasize it and we spent a pleasant afternoon off together.
Mistake Number One. But don't step in number two.

This afternoon, one week later - another phone call. Same thing.

Are you shitting me?

No, it's on your son.

So after I picked him up - he got the talk. The I-know-what-you're-up-to talk. Zuki tried it when he was in Kindergarten, too. He'd tell the teacher he felt feverish and get sent to the nurses office...with two lovely escorts.

I'd take him to the doctor and guess what - his temperature was gone. Like mutant powers or something. After the second time, I told Zuki he'd better not ask to see the school nurse again unless he burst into flames. He got it.

Samu, however, he's got other plans. I can see it in his eyes. I'd like to remember him like this:

But for the past couple of years, he's been like this:

So, all I can do is shake my head, dust my hands off and say, "Oh, that Samu!"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dreams Really Do Come True

My boys have been socially active for a couple of years now - playing in parks, eating in restaurants - attending public schools. In the interim, they have never asked to me to explain any racial slur. A far cry from when I was in Kindergarten, when I asked my mother how to respond to people calling me a "Jap". Her answer was, "Call them a spaghetti face."

Now, I may have been green behind the ears when it came to insulting comebacks, but I knew - even then - that it was better to stay quiet than give that as a retort.

Nigger, Chink, Spic, Gook, Mick, Kike were all phrases that were common to me by the time I was done with second grade. My boys - they never heard these terms in use - not even in movies. On occasion I might call them a half-a-cracker but they assume I'm talking about the ones that get crumbled in soup. Besides, how insulting is it to be called a cracker anyway? Guess that's a Southern thing - it's always about food.

But with all seriousness, every year the boys bring home school work and information about Dr. King for M.L.K. day. They read about segregation - I fill in the details and then I comment, "That's fucked up right?" I'd rather not curse, but there's really no other way to say it. To candy coat it would be like saying Hitler really just needed a better barber.

By the time I came around, Dr. King's movement was but a newborn baby. Do I remember every slight? Yes, I remember. Every-single-incident. I was a child learning ABC's, like my kids are learning now. These days, we're concerned with reading levels - back then it was tolerance levels. Even in New York, the most liberal, melting pot mecca of the country - there were lines.

I think about it and wonder how much parents must've worried about sending their children out into the world. Would they return with their innocence intact or would some violation against their humanity force them to grow up early? And that's not even including the pedophile predators or other psychos lurking as well. And what about the generations of parents before them - it wasn't even a worry for them but a fact of life.

At times, I feel that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew he would never live to see the fruition of his dream. Children who see character before they see stereotypes. Children who notice all the beautifully variant skin tones rather than just black and white. They appreciate diversity - they're charmed by it, even. Just as Dr. King had dreamed, children on opposite sides - holding hands.

They have evolved... play Angry Birds.

But I'll take it.

Photo taken by my BFF's dad - She's on the right, I'm in the middle

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th 2012

What year starts off with a Friday the 13th and is fine with it? 2012, apparently. It's only just begun and already, it's being boinked from behind. Personally, this day has put me through the wringer - like dealing with the IRS while PMS'ing. About the only thing that made me feel grateful for my current situation was stumbling on a Cosmo article on how to survive a breakup. It's been a while since I've experienced one. I read it and wondered if I was ever that stupid. No doubt I was, I just have really good friends who forgive the douche-y-ness abound. Besides, reading the sidebar articles on Low Down & Dirty Breakups, I actually patted myself on the back for not going that far into loserville.

Since it's Friday the 13th, I'm going to make like a horror flick and not get too deep into a character before killing him or her off.

I actually like the number thirteen. It's PBS "Mister Rogers", "Sesame Street" and my long, lost niece's birthday in October. It's ominous, humbly threatening like Lego's.

Today started off warm and humid - ended up windy and frigid. A lot of relationships are like that. As a matter of fact, most relationships - after time - fall into that category. It's always the ones who say they'll "never" become one of those pet peeves that become that exact pet peeve.

That's what Friday, the 13th of January 2012 has taught me. See, I told you - plenty of bouncing around all over the place.

There's a certain satisfaction in knowing that you're right and things actually fall into place, without your bitchy-prodding, proving that fact. When it happens for me, I'll be the first to tell you. In the meantime, I'll work on my post for M.L.K Day, which is a very big day for me personally, and leave you with this very funny clip of Zuki talking without his teeth.

Before you watch it, he's saying:

"Mickey Mouse's car had a hole in the tire,
Mickey Mouse's car had a hole in the tire,
and he fixed it with chewing gum, hchack-pucht!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Smile Under Construction

As promised here is a picture of Zuki's current smile under construction.

I expected him to have trouble eating this burger, but as you can tell by the bite mark, fast food does not require actual teeth for mastication.

It explains why a lot of senior citizens eat this crap.

Although, I have to admit that B.K.'s coffee is like cocaine. Tastes like shit - but it gets me through the day without giving me the runs. Now that's a coffee-secret-formula if you ask me.

Apart from having a hard time discerning what this kid is saying, I'm having my own personal fun feeding him food that present some sort of challenge. Yes, it's cruel - like sticking scotch tape to the bottom of a cat's paw or sneaking up on Samu and scaring the nuts off him, but I'm not biased - I do it to everybody with a temporary handicap. Including myself. I try to thread a needle with my contacts in. It's the most frustrating thing.

The food experiment kind of happened by accident. We had steak for dinner the other night. I cut the meat into bite sized cubes for O'Toothless One. He put it in his mouth and was about to eat it when his tongue pushed it right out the opening. He was like a Pez dispenser. Only with steak. Yes, he did re-eat it and no, I didn't laugh...I was hysterical with tears streaming down my face. Terrible, I know. If anything, the boys can write a book about how I traumatized them. Until then, I think I'll make peas tonight.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Sunday Of Misery

Sunday, Zuki and I spent six hours doing his schoolwork. Six-friggin' hours! That's a job, if you ask me. I'm almost tempted to take it out of his savings account. Even if I cracked open his version of a piggy bank, which is a tin Pokemon box, I'd be lucky to get eight dollars. I suppose that's why he paid me in advance with this lovely necklace he purchased during Christmas.

Zuki's necklace for Mommy
Okay, dude - you're forgiven. It's nice that one of my guys buys me jewelry. Although, I'm not allowed to take it out of the box and actually wear it. I might lose it, Zuki reasons.

To be honest, he's absolutely right. It's why I never wear jewelry - not even a wedding ring. Quite frankly, even if I had the real deal, Zuki's necklace is one I'd like to keep until the day I'm simultaneously laughing and trying to keep my false teeth from falling out of my head.

Yes, six hours of school work sounds extreme but we were working on a school project. Ugh. It's happening already. Next year, it'll be science projects and I have a feeling that somehow it's going to lead to keeping a pet.

This project, however, was a five page essay on something about New York. He chose transportation. Yippee - the subway. I promised myself not to harp on the negative and might I say, the research taught me enough to develop a new-found respect for our subterranean jungle. In the end, Zuki did a fabulous job. True, I helped with the writing. And the editing. And with putting the whole thing together - but come - onnnnn. It's second grade! They're not going to get a Steve Jobs presentation - they're getting Microsoft.

As it was, six hours of working with an air head did make me nuts. I felt like Kathy Bates tormenting James Caan in "Misery." While there was no ankle-smashing with a sledgehammer, there was an undeniable urge to play Liberace when Zuki finally learned - after 3.5 hours of drilling - that "transportation" ends with t-i-o-n. Not s-h-u-n. Air head.

And then there was his incessant need to play with his loose tooth. Granted, if my front tooth were loose, I don't think I could work - at all. I get a small blister or even a pimple and my attention would be focused on irritating it until it was pop-worthy. So, Zuki would write a word, play with his tooth, start writing again, play with his tooth - it was all I could do to stop myself from taking out a pair of pliers and pry the little sucker out.
The following morning, he pulled it out of his head like King Arthur's sword in a stone. When he's less shy about his air conditioned mouth, I promise to post a picture.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Japanese Over The Top Pop Music

Like many Japanese folks, we've had a long standing family tradition watching NHK's New Year's talent show. It's a trip, especially when you're slowly getting inebriated with hot sake. The pop stars are outrageously skinny. Many have fried their hair to be blond. And the old timers wear costumes that make "Transformers" look like Barbie in a Matchbox - it's crazy I tell you. All in all, the show gives me a headache more than the sake but I can't stop watching the insanity. It's the Asian Grammy Awards performed by Anime on Extacy.

The best are the Japanese rock bands. They look like Green Day but act like the Osmonds - they're so polite and humble - it's hysterical. Imagine Metallica being interviewed by Billy Crystal, if they were Japanese it would go something like this.

"James, you've been sober for six years now?"

"Yes Billy, and I'm looking forward to playing in front of my fans again. Thank you for your support!"

Audience cheers, girls scream "metalli-CAH!"

"Well, you better take your place on stage - what song are you playing for us today?"

"Master Of Puppets."

"Master Of Puppets - that sounds wonderful!"

Yes, Japanese pop is way over the top. What's with their gazillion member boy bands? I don't mean to sound ignorant, but they all look the same to me. Actually, all boy bands do. In my opinion, a country that produces a large number of Boy bands demonstrates a clueless economy. Not poor - clueless. If they were poor, they'd sing. Like their meal depended on it. Since they're Dunkin'-Donuts-instead-of-Starbucks-poor, they lip sync. And dance around like cheerleaders.

We've yet to see a Japanese music artist make it big in America. The closest was "Loudness," a heavy metal band that sort of made a break in the mid-eighties.

Gee, I wonder what went wrong.

Then there was "Pink Lady," a duo with a normal sized girl and a twig. They barely spoke English but NBC thought it would be a great idea to give them a prime time television show here.

It lasted a whopping six weeks. See what happens when you end with a hot tub?

There's always Cibo Matto made semi-famous by associating with Sean Lennon. But seriously, who knows any song by them? And don't even go there with Yoko. I'd put her in the same capsule as Paula Abdul - it's named "Just Go Away".

All joking aside, I should mention that this year's NHK show was dedicated to the folks in Fukushima, Japan. The residents are undoubtedly still dealing with the horrendous aftermath of the numerous disasters they survived from last March. The live feeds showed the audience watching the broadcast from shelters and homes in good spirits. I don't think any amount of hot sake and boy bands would do it for me if my town was quaked, drowned and radio-activated.

I thought of dedicating an original tune on YouTube but every time I sing falsetto I wind up singing Pick up your TOYS! So, here's the future boy band I'm currently working with. Right now, they're calling themselves "The Fart Boys."

P.S.: My camera and I are on working terms, again. (Thanks for the gift, Grammy!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Holy Cups Batman, It's 2012

2012. Isn't this the year that John Cusak met Woody Harrelson on a top of a mountain waiting for Armageddon?

I can relate.

I had some really great pictures to share with you, taken with my new camera. They were deleted.

You know I have personal relationships with my gadgets - like my iPhone nemesis. I'd say as far as relationships go, this one has gotten off to a very bad start.

Fortunately, I write. So I shall describe the pictures I was going to share and it will be better, because I'll be in them! Looking younger. And coiffed.

Early evening party at Tomomi's. Actually, the boys took the pictures as an ice breaker. There was one of a kid sitting amongst an explosion of Magnetix, lip gloss and markers. It was before the group of shots of adults with their heads above range. Those were taken during Samu's sugar rush. Three mouthfuls of Jelly Bellies. Come to think of it, not much lost here.

Ringing in the New Year with a bottle of Champagne and Korean Tofu soup. I should've known these would be lost - I actually remembered to smile without doubling my chin. We toasted glasses of Moet, they sparkled beside the seafood salad, smoked salmon and fresh fruit. The traditional New Year's Eve soba noodles were replaced with spicy Korean tofu soup with mussels. I don't mind breaking tradition when it's this good. And my hair was perfect - not Gene Simmons-looking at all.

My New Year's kiss. 2012's was the best ever. As usual, my husband passed out at 11:13 pm. I expected the boys to have passed out long before but they were enamored with the Batman marathon.

"It's the Batmobile! Nobody would ticket the Batmobile, Batman!" Robin says trying to stop Batman from feeding the meter.

"No Robin, this nickel helps Gotham City flourish - we must do our part as model citizens!"

Are they high? Does nobody in Gotham City notice that Batman and Robin don't wear cups? My eyes were glued as well this trip down Bat-channel memory lane.

I periodically switched to channel seven to watch the sober idiots that filled the streets in Times Square. Fifteen minutes to midnight and the boys told me to leave it on Lady Gaga. I think she was wearing a cup.

We watched the embalmed Dick Clark count down the last twelve seconds. He was a second behind. Then the crowd went wild with New Year's kisses beneath the glowing 2012 ball. Zuki was prepared to mimic the policeman making out with Jenny McCarthy - I told him a peck is sweeter. And so went my first kisses of 2012 - from Zuki and Samu. Now, back to the Batcave!

Health, prosperity and cups! Happy 2012.