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    A parent is often mistaken for a parrot. Around my house, an oft-repeated mantra is "When the fat girl steps on things, things get broken," which of course means that if your things are left lying on the floor and Big Mama stumbles over them, they will get destroyed.

    Big Mama also regularly feels like a nag, especially when it comes to electronics. One of these days, I do believe I will smack The Boy right upside his cranium because he "borrows" my computer and downloads crap onto the desktop rather than directly onto his thumb drive. I also can't begin to count the number of times I've had to nuke a hard drive and reload Windows because nobody but me updates virus protection.

    This last week, I had the pleasure of not only blending those two facets of my existence into reality, but also to demonstrate the truth behind the words. From the moment it was unpacked, I repeated over the course of several days, "Mister, don't leave your laptop lying flat on the floor. If it gets stepped on/If I step on it..." yada yada yada.

    And so, Thursday evening, in a search for something else, I stumbled over a toy left on the floor and stepped on the corner of his laptop, the very same laptop for which I stood in line in a store I don't particularly like in order to get a very good bargain, and I hear a sharp, "Crack!"

    I instantly transform into Sailor Swears, but, being in a rush, I didn't check it and promptly forgot about it. The following night, Mister reports that his LCD screen is definitely cracked. I honestly don't think I've ever peppered my speech with so many f-words in so many languages. After inspecting the unit myself, it is still usable but would benefit from a new screen.

    I just priced a new screen. Mister can bite my butt.

    Days Like These

    On a whimsy, we decided to drive two hours to Atlanta in order to visit a 'family' cemetery that was described as the centerpiece of the parking lot for a Walmart store, and then we went to a Persian restaurant to spend over $100 on kabobs and stew for dinner.

    The 'family' part is that the people buried in the cemetery may be long-distant relatives of Mister's. It is in fact part of a parking lot, but it's actually cut off from the main Walmart parking lot and is instead off to far front corner.

    The dinner was a quick hop a few exits up the beltway, and was extremely delicious. I didn't even like what I ordered but its yumminess was still begging me to eat it, and so I did. Even my non-adventurous girls were stuffing themselves.

    How was your day?

    Stay on target!

    When the monkeys were younger, my problem with Christmas shopping was never what to get them but when to stop buying for them. I was mindful of not spoiling them; people who get everything they want inevitably suffer a decline in ambition.

    Now that the monkeys are teenagers, I am almost at a complete loss.

    They are in possession of portable entertainment devices. Our home also has a video game console, albeit not the one The Boy preferred. While they always have fun with the Smithsonian products I place under the tree, it's kinda boring to only get "educational" stuff as gifts.

    Rock Band will be purchased, but as a "family" gift. Every year we also get movies and games (table and video) for the family. Individual gifts, however, are what stump me this year.

    The Girl is an artist. She loves to paint and sketch. She also plays the flute, although I never hear her practicing anything. However, it's not her entire life. She also wastes an inordinate amount of her free time playing MMORPGs. Okay, she plays just one. She regularly spends her own cash money to buy virtual crap for her avatar even though gameplay is free.

    The Boy loves computers and video games. He also plays an MMORPG, and exchanges labor for paid gameplay. He has a blog about video games. He will talk you into a coma about video games--you'll be like that guy on Airplane! who douses himself with gasoline and lights a match before Ted Striker is asked to fly the plane.

    The Baby loves her Webkinz brand stuffed animals, but she really has way too many stuffed animals altogether. She is also an origami prodigy. You should see her miniature dragon. The full-size is hard enough to fold, but her mini is a perfect rendition and it's only one inch long. She's really artsy-craftsy, and enjoys learning new skills. Oh, and here's a surprise--she also has a favorite MMORPG, but it's Webkinz-related.

    I had considered just purchasing each kid a brand new laptop, thereby allowing us to declutter the dining room, but several clever friends pointed out that laptops are non-repairable by DIY enthusiasts like me, and they get dropped/damaged on a regular basis. Plus, since they travel, they might very well end up in bedrooms, which is not allowed in my house. Instead I will upgrade the desktops we have and redesign my office space to create a more open look, replacing the hulking armoire-style cabinets.

    I don't want to wimp out and just hand them all cash this year, but I'm stuck in a vacuum and just can't think of anything. I also don't want to spoil them or spend a metric assload of money.