The Circle of Home Repair

>> Friday, January 29, 2010

You have heard of the Circle of Life? Now let me tell you about the Circle of Home Repair. I know once you have read this you will agree completely with me.

I want to use my garage for its originally intended purpose. I want to put cars in it.

I can't do that.

Why can't I do that? Oh, the reasons, the reasons. The first is that the garage is "broken". The second is that it is a mess. Let's focus only on "broken" because I don't have all year and neither do you.

Problem: The garage is broken. By that, I mean the garage door opener is broken, taking the door neither up, nor down. Obviously, I cannot use said garage to park my car if I cannot get my car into the garage. I could raise the door manually, if I were a superhero possessing amazing strength, but I would not be able to lock it from the outside. So, if I want to pull my car into the garage from the driveway, I would have to get out, turn the car off, walk to the front door, unlock it, go inside, go to the garage, unlock the garage door, forcibly and with much grunting and puffing, pull open the garage door, walk back outside, get in the car, tell Toddler to quit screaming about turning the radio back on, start the car, turn radio back on to stop the screaming, pull car into the garage, then get out and extract Toddler and all packages and bags.

Okay, I got tired just writing that. Trust me, I won't actually do it. I'll just keep getting out of the car in the rain, get Toddler out, and run back and forth for the groceries until Houdini escapes, chase him for awhile, and then finish up with the unloading.

So ... I need to replace my entire garage door opener system, and then I can pull my car in.

"Not so fast, my friends."

The garage door is almost as old as I am, is in bad shape, is warping and rotting. If I replace the opener without replacing the door, I will need to replace the door, and probably the opener, very soon.

So ... I need to replace my entire garage door opener system AND my double garage door, and then I can pull my car in.

"Not so fast, my friends."

The sofiting above the garage is warped and broken and needs to be replaced. We would be foolish not to replace the sofiting while the garage door is removed.

But, if we replace the sofiting around the garage, it won't match the rest of the house, and the rest of the sofiting is broken and warped, too. So, if we replace part of it, we really should replace it all at once, especially since it probably makes sense to buy it all at the same time rather than piece by piece.

But, if we replace the sofiting, we will need to remove the gutters, some of which are turned upside down and doing no good, and the downspouts, in order to get at the sofiting anyway.

In order to fix the gutters at the back of the house, we will need to rent scaffolding or special ladders.

In order to assure that the scaffolding can be safely assembled, we will need to acquire some clean fill to correct the erosion problem in the backyard from the upside down gutters.

There is little point in filling the eroded areas if we don't intend to get rid of the problem, which is the excessive discharge from the gutters and the sump pump, so we will need to pipe water over to the county discharge stream.

To pipe the water, I need a permit from the State, an engineer, and a professional waterproofing company.

So, in order to get a new garage door opener, I need to regrade my backyard.

And then I need to clean the garage.

I think I'll be parking in the driveway for a good long time. Then again, there are two cords of wood on the driveway, so perhaps the front lawn is good. Hey, all I need is a broken car on cement blocks and I will have brought hicksville to the DC suburbs! I'll bet the neighbohood association will love that one.


Collecting Collections

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

For the past several days, I've been pondering the art of accumulating "collections". I've decided to call it an art because it's more than a hobby and no other word I can come up with sounds polite.

Why not "hobby"? (I think I heard one of you ask that.) Well, to me, a hobby is something you do, whereas a "collection" goes one step further and involves something you HAVE -- quite often a lot of something, if we are being honest. And with "having" something, you also have to have a place to put it. I know of some marriages that have broken up over this very question. So, when you add in all the issues, the negotiations, and the storage space, I think we have to say that, "collecting" is a hobby of a whole new level.

Sadly, many of us start out very young, with baseball cards, stamps, coins, stickers (um .... mom, what ever happened to my sticker collection anyway? Five books of stickers don't just disappear ....) and the one that I am still suffering from in our closet -- comics.

Of course, you have the kids whose parents don't support their collecting habits, who end up collecting odd things like the cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls ... not that I know anything about that ... or anything. Not me.

As adults, many of us have trouble shedding our old collections, and we carry them on to burden our children. (Stuffed animals, anyone? How about comics? Lots and lots of comics.... all for poor Toddler who now can't have anything new of his own because he has to deal with all our crap.)

Then, there are those who accumulate (or inherit) other kinds of collections ... the kinds not everyone has ... or wants.

My grandmother had a collection of ugly things. These were cigar holders shaped like statues from Easter Island with big open mouths; or weird candles; or funky ashtrays that looked like demons. Why? Because she smoked? No. She didn't smoke. She collected them because they were ugly. I can't explain it ... nor can we figure out what to do with all this treasure now that she is gone these past 8 years .... Nor can we explain the strange collector-gene that seems to make us unable to part with the worst of them. My mother now has a donkey in her bedroom that sits like the Thinker. Don't you want one?

My father had a beer can collection. That is odd enough. DH's grandfather collected Eagle Rare whiskey decanters and Wild Turkey decanturs. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure which is worse. Well, the beer can collection is easy to recycle, and Dad didn't collect multiples of everything to gift to each of his grandchildren for their homes. (I'm not saying ... I'm just saying... what do you DO with all that?)

Collections can be a saving grace for the gift-giver. After all, if you are stuck, what does s/he collect? Buy it! Job done! In fact, a known affection for something like Mickey Mouse or dolphins will actually cause some desparate gift givers to start a collection FOR someone. If that happens to you, I hope you are gifted a collection you actually like. I know a man who claimed that his entire family gave him "Grinch" memorabilia each year while under the mistaken impression that he was fond of that particular Dr. Seuss character. Woops! In their defense, that man was terribly hard to buy for. This poor family was probably grasping for anything.

Finally, and perhaps most tragically, we have the collections of "useful" things. My grandmother (yes, again), had the biggest collection of old hosiery containers that the world has ever known. She had the old egg kind, and the big plastic green kind. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, then either I'm old, or you are too young to have children. Go ask your mother. We'll have to add this to the "Chances are ... you are over 35" post.) She collected them because she might need them someday. Of course, as soon as anyone found out she liked them, then she got all of their hosiery containers every time they bought one, and so on and so forth. By the time she moved the last time, we needed a special permit from the dump to dig a new hole for plastic hosiery eggs.

I swore I was not going to fall into that same genetic trap, but alas, I briefly found a use for the plastic zipper bags that sheets come in, and before I knew it, every kind of plastic snap and zip container was on its way to my house. In less than a year, I had a plastic bag collection in my basement that needed its own address. I've seized my life back and thrown most of them away (trash bags full), but every once in awhile another one surfaces....

So, what is an entropy and chaos fighting family to do? Of course, we want our drawers and our closets back, but the true nature of a collection is that it is too big (or too ugly) to display, and too "valuable" (ahem) to store in an attic or garage.

Something has got to give...


Silliest Act

>> Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today's topic (and title) The Silliest Act comes courtesy of The Crazy Hip Bloggers and their "Write Out Loud" Wednesday themes.

Now, I've known about this theme for nearly a week, and I have been waiting for the big brick called, "Inspiration" to smack me on the head. So far ... nothing. I don't even hear the whistling of a falling brick anywhere in the distance.

I'm still hoping ...

Nah. It's not coming. I'm going to have to do this one the hard way. Rats.

Okay. What do we mean when we say, "Silly"? Well, I usually mean one of two things. I either mean, "That's silly," as in, "that's ridiculous, and you are making an a%% of yourself, or, "You're being silly," as in, "that's charmingly cute."

We have a Mickey Mouse Choo Choo Express that tells us to, "Please remain silly while the train is in motion." By this, I presume Mickey means the "charmingly cute" version. Mickey has also filmed a television episode called, "Mickey's Silly Switch" in which I think they intended that the various toys and people act charmingly cute, but (in my humble opinion), they get quite an attitude and cross the "silly" line into some other arena.

But what would be the "Silliest Act"? In some ways, this entire blog talks about people doing silly and ridiculous things. I mean, I'm still hung up on Pluto becoming an un-planet. Plus, someone mentioned to me (in the comments to that post), that there is no such thing as a Brontosaurus anymore. I have no idea how I missed that scientific reclassification, but had I known, I would have been very upset, I'm sure. I haven't looked into the reasoning for the Brontosaurus, but if it's anything like Pluto, I think both of these might have a lot of votes for the Silliest Act.

Then, of course, you have my various "Why" posts. Not all of them refer to people doing Silly Acts, but some of them sure do. Take a look. (I'll spare you all the links back in furtherance of my New Year's Resolution (yet another link, I know)). Of course, it goes without saying that most of the things I do that end up in this blog are someone's candidate for the Silliest Act, but I won't go there. If you want to nominate one of those, write your own post for The Crazy Hip Bloggers. They'll probably love it. If I went through the list, we'd be linking all over the place for hours.

I was tempted to say that the Silliest Act is the tendency of some people to dramatically overuse the concept of paper plates and plastic utensils, but I think that doesn't actually qualify as one single "act". I might have to make that a separate blog post altogether.

Uh, oh. It seems I have managed to write an entire blog post without really saying anything at all. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Eh, maybe the Silliest Act was me actually starting a humor blog. Hmm. Only time will tell with that one.


More Seeing is Believing

>> Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whew! What a past few days. I have felt like such a clutz lately. For some strange reason, every time I pick up the diaper bag or my make up bag, one of the compartments is always not quite zipped right, and everything falls everywhere. Plus, for some reason, I keep finding all these Christmas decorations around...

Wait a minute.

Why are you all nodding and smiling at me?

Yes, I can see you. I'm talented that way.

You are all nodding and smiling at me, and I'm finding it rather creepy.

What's that? I already told you all this stuff yesterday?

Um ... okay ... if you say so. Moving on then...

Last week I told you about the day Darling Husband went to the store for me, and snapped some pictures, while I stayed home for the joyous event of Toddler peeing on his bedroom carpet. Remember that?

Okay, all this nodding and smiling is really getting creepy, folks.

But anyway, while Darling Husband was out, he stopped by a local parking lot to grab this pic for you.


Before I go on, take another look at the picture. Notice anything odd? (Hint -- look at the road, not the car.)

Did you see it?

The lane arrows point right, and straight ... but there is no straight. This is a "T" intersection, and "straight" leads straight into those trees.

I swear to you, this is a real intersection, leading on to a real, public street, in a real town. There is no hidden driveway ahead, I am not making this up, and I did not doctor this photo. (Okay, I did crop it so you can see the arrows, but that's it.)

I cannot even come up with any even remotely pithy explanation for this scene. When I first noticed it I was so stunned I thought I was seeing things, and Darling Husband didn't even really believe me when I told him about it.

The only thing I can say that even comes close to explaining this is that there must be something really odd about the parking lot, because this is the same lot where I took the picture of the guy who really couldn't park.

Yes ... this picture has even taken my words away.


More from Entropy

>> Monday, January 25, 2010

Hello, Entropy here, again. Yes, again. We had such a nice little chat this past Friday that I thought I would do it again today. (And by "do it" I mean co-opt Karin's blog and tell you what has really been going on around here.)

Well, Karin and Darling Husband have been fighting pretty hard against my influence since yesterday. They actully managed to clean out the toy box and get all the toys back in it, as well as a small pile to donate to charity.

I figured I needed to put a stop to this progress, so I promptly arranged for a tree guy to dump two cords of wood in their driveway in just such a way that they cannot park either car in the driveway completely, nor can they even come close to getting at the garage door. (Not that the garage door would help much since I am still multiplying boxes out there daily.) I figure that mess should keep them occupied for a little while at least. Just to be sure they weren't too diligent in getting the wood moved to the woodpile, I decided to make sure the wood drop occured the day before another long rainstorm. Yep ... that should hold 'em.

On the inside of the house, I managed to sneak into the basement, take a box of Christmas decorations, and spread them out around the house again just so Karin thinks she is crazy. Sure enough, she is wandering around, whispering to herself, "I swear we got everything last week! Where was this stuff hiding?" See, I can get away with this trick because this family has more Christmas decorations than all of New York City. Who can possibly keep track of all of those things?

Even better, when Darling Husband took a bin of decorations downstairs late yesterday afternoon, he managed to run into the heater and flip the switch, so the entire heating system of the house went off without anyone noticing (because the fireplace was going strong). This morning, when the house was only 60 degrees, I assure you -- they noticed. Then, when Toddler crawled into bed with them and put his cold feet on them, the whole neighborhood noticed. Hee, hee. (Hmm. If I'm supposed to be a mean nemesis for these people, I guess I should find a more villanous chuckle than, "Hee, hee." I'll work on that.)

Karin neglected to realize that she was out of conditioner in the shower (and in the house, really). So, when she went to take a shower, not only was there none in the shower, there was none in the bathroom, and she had to step out into the hall to grab a small bottle from a hotel stash they have in a drawer. Did I mention it was only 60 degrees in the house? She was noooootttttt happy. I think I set the tone for today rather nicely.

All this week Karin has been making silly vows about cleaning out her email so that she "catches up." Well, having her "catch up" does not further my cause of world domination, so I took some steps in that area, too. First, I increased the amount of relevant and important emails that she needs to take care of immediately. Then I also nudged a few of my minion-entropy-and-chaos-people on Twitter to start chatting with her so she spent more time than she realized talking with people she has never met, all the while thinking she is "making connections" (little knowing that it is all just me pulling strings). I also have engaged her in searching the internet endlessly for "the perfect blog layout". Every time she thinks she has one, I make sure she sees just one more page of options....

All in all, I have managed to keep this woman from scrubbing her kitchen floor for over a week. I've even managed to make the floors messier by having her stuff randomly fall every few hours, including makeup bags and plastic baggies full of cheerios.

My work here is progressing nicely.

Now, for all of you, a few words of warning. Karin thinks she wrote some nice blogs for the past two days, describing her view of all these things. In fact, when she logs onto the site, she sees what she wrote, not what I wrote. (Clever, eh?) So, when she gets back tomorrow, no matter what she says, you all just nod and smile like you know what she's talking about. Got it? See, I know you are all on my side because you are sitting around reading this blog instead of off writing your own, or cleaning your own garage, so I know you will keep this just between us. If not ... well ... I know where you live too.

PS -- To Mr. ASK, with regard to your comments to my last post, please know that I have given great consideration to your suggestions. As you know, you and I are well acquainted from the days of your perpetul kitchen remodeling. I even helped your wife and son pack for your most recent move. I would hope by now that you would understand that the most rewarding part of my job comes from the families who take my work so personally. Moving into a house with as large a personal staff as those in the Stewart employ is, well ... lacking somehow. Those who appreciate my work the most in such a situation are not those I am trying to inspire. Nonetheless, in honor of our long acquaintance, I will venture to do my utmost, sir.

With respect to this alleged twin brother of mine, I might suggest you underestimate my ability to exist in multiple places at once. This benefit comes from being a "pan dimensional being" as Mr. Douglas Adams liked to call us. I have even been known to take the form of a mouse from time to time, as Mr. Adams also astutely observed. After all our time together, I am somewhat disappointed you do not know of this talent of mine. I believe you once knew me well enough to call me Thespus. Alas, old friend, I am wounded, but I will recover.


What Happens When You Hit the Tipping Point

>> Friday, January 22, 2010

Hello. This is Entropy, here. I've taken over this blog today to leave you a message. Karin is unable to attend to her computer because I have tricked her. Up until now, she has spent tremendous energy trying to keep the kid and husband mess from taking too strong a hold in her family room and kitchen.

Last week she got a brilliantly stupid idea to focus on the cleaner rooms in the house (such as the living room and dining room) and keep them perfect while moving all unclaimed or homeless things into the kitchen and leaving the family room to fend for itself. This idea has backfired.

Little did she know that I put a spell on Toddler's toys, compelling him to dump them from the toybox all over the floor. Whenever any adult tries to help him put them away, the toys trigger him to yell, ON THE FLOOR! ON THE FLOOR!"

I have also put a virus on certain of the late-arriving Christmas items that causes them to duplicate every not-put-away thing they come in contact with. So, the newspapers stacked on the floor become double. The toys still in the box for Christmas have multiplied as well. The boxes waiting to be burned in the fireplace have absolutely gotten out of hand, and you don't even want to know what I did to their garage.

Needless to say, I'm not too sure when you will see Karin again, as I last left her drowning in a pile of burnable boxes, unmatched tupperware (which also is multiplying) and badly sorted laundry.

I cannot, however, claim responibility for Toddler learning how to remove the cover to the access panel in his bedroom that leads underneath the master bathroom bathtub. As amusing as that might have been (had I thought of it), that kind of stunt isn't really part of my job description. We will have to leave blame for that on the poor planning of the family that chose that particular room for Toddler's room, or on the builder who didn't build the panel very well.

As for the manchurian candidate theory ... I will remain silent for now, but I will say that I have been known to use manchurian-type candidates in the past and it would not be unheard of in this day and age.

Be wary.

I am real.




I'm Very Confused

>> Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm very confused today. I have a permanent set of "puzzled" wrinkles on my forehead. (Yes, those are "puzzled" wrinkles, not any other kind of wrinkles ... well, depending on what time it is, one of them might be an "I'm really annoyed right now" wrinkle.)

Lots of things are causing these wrinkles today. I doubt I'll solve any of them.

First, I have this "thing".

even smaller

I don't know where it came from, other than it showed up with the baby stuff around a year or so ago. Or ... at least ... it got stored with the baby stuff. At first I thought it went to a Toddler toy, but I can't find any toy missing this piece. It's too short to be a piece of a bed rail. It has connections on it, so it obviously is a part of something.

Just for kicks, here is where Toddler has dragged it. I wish he could tell me what he thought it was supposed to do. Or wait. Maybe he thinks it is supposed to do this:


(And ... yes ... that is my shoe in there, too. I don't know why.)

I've been moving this gadget from room to room for months, hoping I would figure out what other gadget was missing it. Now I'm afraid to throw it away bcause as soon as I do, I can guarantee I will figure out why I so desperately need it.

So, I remain confused.

I'm also confused about this:

cropped and smaller

Why, you may ask? What is so confuing about a gas grill? Well, the confusing part is that the gas grill has no cover. During the coldest, nastiest weather of the year, this grill remains naked. Why? I do not know. Darling Husband owns a grill cover. (I say "he" owns it rather than "we" own it because it was a holiday/birthday gift to him.) I cannot find said grill cover, so even if I were inclined to open and use someone else's gift, I couldn't because I don't know where he put it.

So, I remain confused.

I am also a bit confused by this:


What is that, you are asking? Why, it is an air return grate with a wine rack in front of it, of course.

Why is this confusing, you want to know? I'll tell you why. Until recently, this air return grate was held in place by the wine rack. Darling Husband put the grate in the wall around a year or more ago after I complained that we might lose small children and pets down the cavernous hole it covers. Apparently, so he tells me, we had the screws to install it properly, but they weren't part of the package. They were leftovers stored somewhere in the garage. I was going to show you a picture of the garage, but I was too scared to open the door.

So, rather than going into the garage (scary) and finding the screws (admittedly a bit difficult), Darling Husband located the pictured wine rack and shoved it in front of the grate to hold the grate in place. There it stayed for a year until I found it during the annual decking of the halls.

Now, to be fair, during the annual decking of the halls, Darling Husband did go and locate the screws and fix the grate so we could free the imprisoned wine rack, but I can't quite get past the confusion. Was it really so much easier to search and find a piece of furniture to hold the grate on than it was to go find the screws to finish the job?

Was it really?

Sadly, I remain confused.


The Hardest Words To Hear ....

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Okay, I'm trying something new. I'm working on a topic supplied from "The Crazy Hip Blogger". This time the topic is "The Hardest Words to Hear." The idea is you read this (and love it, of course), and then you visit "The Crazy Hip Blogger" and read what other people wrote (and love or like or hate or ignore it as you see fit).

Well, I can hardly decide where to begin. There are so many ways I can go with this topic, "The Hardest Words to Hear."

I mean, the obvious choices come from my "Mommy" rant -- the hardest words to hear from Toddler are:

1. Uh oh. Pee pee in the pants again. Me need go potty.
3. Uh oh. Uh oh. Uh oh.

Yep. I sure hate hearing those.

And then I have the rest of my life. The hardest words to hear in my day in and day out crap:

4. The car needs gas. (I hate to gas up the car.)
5. We're out of milk.
6. The vegetable of the day is carrots.

From my days as a lawyer ... there were so many to choose from, but lots of them are prohibited topics under my oath of confidentiality. That means I can't tell you the good stuff. So, we will just have to hit the generic, stereotypical stuff:

7. How long would it take you to ... (insert project that has to be done by tomorrow so why are you asking me anyway?).
8. Can we move the closing up a week or so?
9. You aren't working on anything else, are you?
10. Where are you going on vacation? Be sure to check your Blackberry!

But, if I had to pick just one phrase, as the hardest words of all to hear, I would have to pick this one?

11. What does your husband want for Christmas?

Need I say more?


Girl Cat Has A Bad Day

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yesterday I described to you how Girl Cat got stuck in Toddler's room. Later, I found her pouncing at the sliding glass doors trying to get the ice that was falling from the roof. For a few seconds, she had me concerned she was actually going to forget there was a door and try to open it with her head.

She told me she was just trying to work off the stress of trying to keep away from Toddler in a very small room without a lot of hiding places. I mean, I deliberately kept hiding spaces in that room to a minimum so I wouldn't have to hunt long for Toddler, but who knew this would cause Girl Cat some trauma?

Then, to add frosting to her bitter cake, I wouldn't let her into the spare room to hide under the bed. Well, to hear her tell it, I kicked her down the hall for offering to help put stuff away. I'll admit there was a bit of foot nudging involved, and I had to scooch her away more than once because Girl Cat is ... well ... stubborn is a good word. But I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "kick". No, there was no force involved -- just nudging.

Finally, as if the day wasn't disappointing enough, Girl Cat's favorite person on the whole planet (Daddy) came home from work, ate dinner, and then went out again for some electronic, audio, geeks only community service thingy. He didn't even build Girl Cat a fire to sit near.

The Christmas Tree went away, and I think she still misses it, proudly rolling in any stray pine needle she can still find.

Later that evening, as we were crawling in to bed to watch a video (about Egypt, if you were curious), Girl Cat pounced up on bed and told Darling Husband she had HAD ENOUGH! He was going to PET HER, and RIGHT NOW! And she promptly began kneading the heck out of her stuffed dog and drooling on it.

Yes. My cat has a stuffed dog. Ironic, isn't it?

Anyway, we were resoundly meowed at and instructed to pay attention to the part about Egyptians worshiping cats and to take note. Plus, we were never, ever, ever to lock her in Toddler's room again (which, she reminded us, used to be her room before there was a Toddler). After all, how many choruses of "It's the Mickey Mouse, Clubhouse!" can one cat stand from one Toddler in a short amount of time? (And why didn't I come faster to get her, by the way?)

After that haranguing, she gave Houdini a swat for good measure and started a wrestling match with Big Black Cat that involved a complex set of rules including running into and out of the walk in closet at full speed.

Thus endeth the bad day of Girl Cat.


What Comes Around Goes Around

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

In last Friday's post, I was chuckling to myself in the living room listening to Darling Husband sound like Bill Cosby while trying to convince Toddler to do something he didn't want to do (or, in that case, not do something he wanted to do).

I should never, ever, have even thought about laughing.

Shortly after Darling Husband managed to clean up Toddler and his lunch mess, he offered to make a run to the store for milk. Hey, how lucky can I get, right? Toddler is in his room, pretending to nap and doing a rather poor job of it, but he's contained. Darling Husband offers to go get milk and to snap a pic for me for an upcoming blog, and I get to sit still.


Sit still.

Did I mention that Toddler was only pretending to sleep? Have I mentioned recently that we are potty training? Did I ever mention that I have cats?

So here is how the next hour played out. Toddler was not settling down, and he had that "tone" to his talking that all parents know -- he isn't going to sleep unless I do something. So, upstairs I go. Almost before I get the door fully open, out runs Girl Cat between my legs. Somehow she managed to get herself locked in Toddler's bedroom when Darling Husband took Toddler upstairs, and Toddler was not offering to open the door and let her out. From the look on her face when she darted out, he had been threatening to hang her outside the window by her tail, pull out her whiskers one by one, or (heaven forbid) try to pet her. In addition, Toddler had a really messy diaper, and being in the same room with that while owning a cat's superb sense of smell had to be close to torture. My eyes were watering just walking in the doorway. Whew!

Well, we got that situation handled, got Toddler tucked back into bed, and Girl Cat was off cowering in a closet or under a bed or something. With the blur and the fur, my eyes weren't fast enough to see which way she went.

Back downstairs I went to see if the noise would stop. For a brief few moments, it did, but then I heard something I just couldn't identify, so up again I went.

This time, I walked in to find that Toddler had his circular Mickey Mouse wall clock (about 10 inches wide) in bed with him, reminding me that I have once again failed to hang it up. He also had five books in bed with him and three more on the floor. While I appreciate the love of books, I was uninspired by the clutter in the bed. So, I took the books out, bent to pick up the ones on the floor, and froze. What was that next to the wall? Why, it looked like a diaper!

A diaper.

On the floor, next to the wall.

Well that doesn't seem like the right place for a diaper.

Diapers on the floor are nothing new. Toddler pulls them out of the drawer all the time. What made me freeze was the fact that this one didn't look new. It looked distinctly buttock shaped.

I unfroze myself and turned to look more closely at Toddler in the bed. Sure enough, he was laying there, grinning like a maniac ... commando style. Au natural. Nothing on the "down there." Woah. I thought we had managed to side step the, "I'm going to take my diaper off" phase since it hadn't happened yet and we were already potty training and wearing "pink big boy pants". (Sad, I know.)

Finally adrenaline coursed through me and I reacted swiftly by getting down next to the bed to put that diaper back on. Naked Toddler with little self control -- must cover before ... woah again. Why did my jeans suddenly get wet?

OH CRAP HE PEED ON THE FLOOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ugh. Of course, my next thought was, "How do you get toddler pee out of the carpet?" I didn't think the cat enzyme spray will work, nor do I think it would have been the world's greatest idea. Next on my afternoon task list, of course, was cleaning the carpet, followed by glueing Toddler to his bed with the force of my "mean mommy" glare.

By the time Darling Husband got back from his errands, all was back in order. He walked in and said, "So, did you enjoy your time off?"



Better To Remain Silent....

>> Friday, January 15, 2010

This afternoon Darling Husband gave me a little present. Part way through lunch, he offered to continue helping Toddler finish his sandwich and "mushy veggies". Of course, I willingly took the offer, because Toddler is quite possibly the slowest eating two year old on the planet. I think he might be in the running for the Guinness Book of World Records or something. Give me a chance to step away for some quiet time without having to remind a small child to, "Take a drink! Chew, chew, swallow! Don't put more in your mouth until you swallow what you have!" and I'll jump high to take it. (Okay, maybe we all didn't really need that visual.)

So, off I went, quick quick like a bunny, before Darling Husband could come to his senses and change his mind. Hmm. I wonder if his offer had anything to do with me foaming him a chocolate glazed donut latte with my new milk spinner. I wonder how many lattes it will take to get him to put the dishes in the dishwasher? Oh. Lattes make more dishes. Well, that's a bad idea.

Anyway, I snuck off to the livingroom, which is both the warmest room in the house and is completely lacking a television. I figured the chances of sticky faces following me were slimmer in that room, and maybe, just maybe, I could read two pages of my current book consecutively. Maybe. Worth a shot.

So, I went, sat down, opened my book, and actually managed a few pages before I heard something strange from the kitchen. At first it sounded like Homer Simpson moved in.


Then I heard some furious whispering.

Then I most certainly and clearly heard a "Bill Cosby" moment come from Darling Husband's mouth. "Will you stop touching that!"

A few moments later and a little bit louder, I heard "Toddler! Please! You are making a huge mess, and Mommy is going to blame me if your new sweater is covered in food! Stop!"

Aah, justice. This eavesdropping was sweet, because just the other day Darling Husband was teasing me for sounding like the rest of Bill Cosby's skit: "Come here! Come here! Here! Here! Now!"

Be careful what you laugh at when toddlers are involved. What comes around goes around, and around, and around, and around ....


Sometimes, Words Just Aren't Enough

>> Thursday, January 14, 2010

In a perfect world, I would upload a lot more entertaining pictures for you to see on this blog. Alas, the world isn't perfect, and you are stuck (for the most part) with my pithy observations on life.

Sometimes, though, I find that words cannot do a situation justice. Take this for example:


Now, I realize it looks like this car is pulling into a parking space, but it isn't. The car is "parked" (if you can call that parking), and it isn't even in a parking space. Somebody put this boat in the lined reserved area next to a handicapped parking spot and left. Presumably, he went into the store, since the car was a mere few feet from a grocery store, but I won't promise anything as I never saw him. (Or her. Let's be fair. The driver may have been a woman.)

I took this picture over a year ago, and I still wonder about it. I still wonder, "What on EARTH was the driver thinking?" The picture seems to be telling us that the driver had a big sense of entitlement ... or possibly extremely bad eyesight.

On the other hand, maybe the driver had a kid in the backseat who was newly potty trained screaming, "ME NEED GO POTTY" in his ear until he went nuts and stopped the car in the first spot big enough. Hey, I can see that. The parking lot is pretty close to an exit for a major highway, and I know people who would do a lot worse to keep a kid from screaming ... or to avoid cleaning up potty in a carseat.

I can also see that perhaps little leprechauns got mad at the driver and lifted his car 10 miles away and abandoned it for him in front of Safeway. Hey, weird things happen in this world, right?

Or maybe someone in the car was addicted to caffeine and they had to stop at the first available Starbucks, which is visible in the distance in the photo. I have heard that latte addictions can get really bad.

How about this -- it was the guy's anniverary and he forgot and he was running to the grocery store to bring home a pre-cooked dinner, some flowers, wine, chocolate, and a bunch of balloons and he was already late.

Or ... he was supposed to order pizza for the youth league's annual awards dinner and he forgot so he stopped to pick up a bunch of frozen pizzas from the grocery store?

I don't know. Beats me.

What do you think happened?


Where Did It Go?

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ah, my son has theatrical ambitions. At least, that is what I am telling myself. Either that or we are entering the stage when he will soon begin to lie to me in earnest to save his behind.

Recently, we've been playing a game he calls, "Where did it go?" It started at the dinner table with Daddy or someone hiding their hands up their sleeves and saying, "Where did it go?" It graduated to Daddy throwing Toddler over his shoulders in a potato sack carry and saying, "Where did he go?" This is a most captivating game (for some people). We can play it behind the shower curtain while on the potty, when drying off from the bath ... the possibilities are endless!

Heck, even my cats play this game sometimes when they hide themselves behind the venetian blinds (back when I was still silly enough to have floor length window coverings). The difference between the cats and Toddler is that the cats really do think that no one can see them when they are behind the curtains. (Lump? What lump? No one back here but us sunbeams! What tail? That's not my tail sticking out. I don't have a tail.)

Unfortunately, "Where did it go?" has quickly become, "I don't know where it is!" Toddler thinks this is a great game. He takes his toy whatever and puts it behind something and says, "Where did it go? I don't know where it is." Okay, this is funny, and maybe a little bit cute the first few times. The big cheesy grin on his face is wider than a cheshire cat when he starts. I'm in luck so far ... Toddler has a worse, Fib Face than DH does, although Toddler still has a long time yet to grow out of it.

"I don't know where it is," becomes a tad frustrating in stores when I let him take one car with him to hold down the urge to pick up everything in sight. The game is downright irritating when it has to do with where he put my shoes when we're trying to get out the door. Oh, yes. Did I fail to mention that Toddler likes to wear my shoes everywhere? Combine wearing Mommy's shoes all over the house with a typical toddler's short term memory, with the urge to play the game, "I don't know where it is," and we have the recipe for a disaster.

Maybe, just maybe, this game will be the final straw that makes me walk my shoes up to the closet rather than kicking them off by the front door.

Ah, probably not. I have other shoes.


Wait ... Why is This Entertaining?

>> Tuesday, January 12, 2010

With a title like the one above, I could go anywhere ... maybe even start a specialized, "Why" series, right? Like we need another "Why" column. Or maybe we really, really do.

Anyway, I've often wondered why some people (includng me) find somethings entertaining enough to make sacrifices to do them.

Some people like movies (DH). To him, a movie is worth giving up other things so you can use your cash to go to see something on a big screen. To me a movie is nice, but I really think it is an opportunity to realize that I need to get my glasses cleaned, movie popcorn is really good, and every single movie out there is too long for the size soda that comes with the value popcorn deal. In other words, I don't do the Willing Suspension of Disbelief very well. I blame my bladder. I find it hard to be totally engrossed in a shoot out in space when I'm thinking, "When will I miss nothing important so I can go pee?" So, yes, I'll go (for the right movie), but don't count on me giving up much to have the money to do it.

Some people like exercise. I had a great friend in law school who used to go to the gym twice a day. I also had a bit of an odd roommate in college who used to go work out because she was bored and couldn't think of anything to do. Honestly, she once said to me, "I've already worked out three times today. Now what do I do?" Um, crack a book, honey? This is college, you know. Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-exercise. I understand the merits, and I know how essential it is. I even understand liking how it makes you feel when you are fit. But exercise as entertainment? I definitely do not understand that. To me, exercise is work, and the only way I would ever find it an activity to ease my boredom is if someone honestly found a way to actually let me read a book without losing my place while hopping around, and the only way I would be able to turn the page would be to keep going. Now that would be entertaining (on many, many levels, I think).

And then there is FarmVille. Or Farm Town. Or My (lil) Farm. All of these are on Facebook, and any one of them is totally addicting. Having closely examined two of them, I would say that I prefer one over the other, and I don't know much about the third, but the concept is the same. You have your own little digitized person, who owns a farm and plants crops. The crops grow, you harvest them, you sell them, you make money, you plow, you buy more seeds, you plant more crops, and so on and so forth. As you earn more money than you spend, you can buy decorations and buildings to put on your farm. Some buildings to funky things, others just sit there. Some buildings store things, and others can be stored. You can also acquire animals and trees that (depending on which game you are playing), require harvesting, petting, brushing, or watering and may get you more coins (depending on which game you are playing). If you fail to visit your farm often enough, your crops will die, and all that money will be wasted. Got the concept?

I first learned about the addictive power of this game when Darling Husband's brother came to visit while our internet was out. He lamented our internet outage, not because he wanted to look up something, but because his crops would die in Farm Town. I offered him a real live pile of wood to chop and a real life flower garden to weed to help him get his farm fix, but for some reason he didn't think it was quite the same.

I resisted looking at the game for the longest time, as I really didn't need anything that addictive, nor did I really understand the charm. Finally, I gave in and decided to play, and sure enough, I was soon busily brushing virtual animals and harvesting virtual rice paddies. (BTW, these are the only farms in the world where you can grow anything, regardless of climate!) The game is truly addicting.

But why? I first realized there was a real question here when I showed it to my mother, who said, "That looks like fun. What's the point?"

I had no answer.

I told her there was no goal, no endgame, no point. You just grew crops and built stuff. Over and over again.

Wait a minute.

Why is this entertaining? This is starting to sound like work! If I don't log in periodically, I lose ground, and if I do log in, I have to run the little virtual plow all over the place to make sure I get everything, as well as picking virtual fruit off virtual trees and virtual eggs out of virtual chicken coops.

Methinks I'm spending an awful lot of energy on building this virtual world and, unlike a game on my Nintendo (pick your version), at no point will this game ever say, "YOU WON!" and turn off. It goes on forever. At best, if it isn't work, it certainly is life, right?

At this point in time, I am virtually rich!

Sadly, I am still really not rich.

I don't get it. I love the game. It's a lot of fun. I just can't figure out why.

What do you do for entertainment that makes no sense?


What's Not In Your Wallet?

>> Monday, January 11, 2010

I woke up this morning wondering what on earth I was going to write in this blog today. As you may recall from my prior rants, I have had a bit of a dry spell on ideas recently.

Today, though, I went to the store, and after that trip I decided I should probably just describe my day to you and you would be rolling on the floor laughing. Then I realized you wouldn't believe even I could have such a random day, so I changed my mind.

Nonetheless, my trip to the store reminded me of a painful and embarrassing trait that has dogged me for two decades. I lose things. Important things. I'm not talking about forgetting the cloth bags at the grocery store (which I also do). I'm also not talking about misplacing my cell phone or car keys because I failed to put them away (although I do that too). I'm talking about losing things that I actually need, right out of my hands and into the ether like the Universe has it out for me.

I am careful, believe it or not. I worry, too, about losing things. I can't figure out if I worry because I lose things, or if I lose things because I worry. I wish I knew. Either way, important items slip through my fingers with alarming regularity.

Let me give you some examples.

I once lost my passport in the airport in Auckland, New Zealand while I was trying to go home. From the departure tax desk to the gate, it was gone -- slid right out of my hands and vanished. Thankfully, it was recovered and I was able to return home without further delay.

I also lost my passport in the Sea-Tac airport after I had just arrived back in the country and was catching a flight home. Well, to spread the wealth on this, DH lost both our passports. These were never returned to us, as they were oddly enough sent to the State Department as "unclaimed" despite us calling daily for 2 weeks trying to get them back. *sigh* That is a story I may never understand.

Finally, I lost my entire wallet (but not my passport) in Edinburgh, Scotland. Of all the incidents, this one was possibly the worst because it left me dependent on Darling Husband for money on our vacation, and it kept us basically together all waking hours in case one of us wanted to buy something. Wow, that really stunk. No, "I'll go to this bookstore while you examine Scottish Kilts for the 3,000th time." Ironically enough, I still believe to this day that it was in a seamstress shop watching DH try on a kilt for size where my wallet waved goodbye to me and started its new life underneath a bookcase. I hope it is happy, wherever it is.

Well, needless to say, I do not leave the country without strapping my passport to my body with duct tape, leaving copies with all my travel companions and memorizing my credit card numbers just in case. Heck, with my luck, I should leave a credit card home and just memorize the numbers in case I get really stuck. I should mention, though, that the appropriate time to duct tape a passport to yourself is after you have shown it to the last person at the airport/departure place that needs to see it, but I have been known to lose things well before then, so I am working on a plan to have clear duct tape so I do not have to actually remove said passport. (Don't even bother telling me about passport holders, as the time DH lost the passports they were in just such a holder. Really, duct tape is the only way.)

This post was embarrassing, for sure. I think I'll stop now and crawl into a hole.


Sounds of the Season

>> Friday, January 8, 2010

All right. I know. I can't let it go -- the holiday season, that is. I keep saying each post about the holidays is my last one, and this time I think I mean it.

Picture this: It's New Year's Eve/New Year's Day, and we have in attendance one mother, one aunt, three sisters, two husbands, and six children, four of whom are under 7. To handle this kind of innundation requires tremendous skills of patience and organization, both skills that seemed rather lacking over the first weekend of 2010. The phrases, "Laurel and Hardy" and "The Three Stooges" were bandied about more than once.

Before we all welcomed ourselves into the "rut of 2010" as Darling Husband likes to call it, I thought we might have some fun recalling the Sounds of the Season, as heard in our New Year's Festivities.

"Will you stop pushing me! MOOOOMMMMM!!!!!"


"Oh, no. What was it this time? Don't come out here, Mom. You don't want to know. Whose dumb idea was it to put a full canister of margarita salt where the 2 year olds could reach it?"


"What's the score of the game? Wait. Which game are we watching?"



"Did you break another wine glass? How many have you broken this weekend?"


"Did we win the game?"

"Is it dinnertime yet?"

"Who wants a nap?" (No kid answered this question. At one time or another, all adults tried to volunteer.)

"I don't like pork."

"No one likes pork, but we keep voting for the politicians anyway."

"No! I don't like pork for dinner!"

"It's New Year. You have to eat pork."

"Can I watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?"

"No. The football game is on."

"Which game are we watching again?"



"Woops. Seriously? There are more presents from Christmas still? I thought that was just a pile of wrapping paper."

"Stop playing with your brother's toys."


"Oh, no. The baby has gas again."

"Are there enough parents to account for all these kids?"

"Me need a Mouskatool. This is terrible mess." (So sayeth the Toddler and his cousin Toddlerette.)

"Did anyone realize the kids dumped the Megablocks, the Tinkertoys, the Cootie game and all of the marbles all over the bedroom?"


"Okay, whose butt stinks now?"

"What's the score of the game?"

"Is dinner ready YET?"

And on, and on. I'm sure at least once in your life you have had or will have an experience like this. Love it, hate it, or love/hate it, but it is both energizing, exciting, and very, very chaotic. We probably won't be seeing that kind of confluence of children, food, and football for another year.

Happy, Happy New Year everyone ... again ... and still.


Taking Chances

>> Thursday, January 7, 2010

Well, even I can't pretend the holidays aren't over and dieting season hasn't begun anymore. I've put off realizing this situation until what I think is the absolutely last possible moment, and that moment has arrived.

In the meantime, the Idea-O-Meter for this blog is running about as close to empty as I've ever seen it. If something doesn't change soon, I may resort to regaling you all with potty training stories. (Yikes!)

So, I'm thinking we need a change of pace around here. (Pay attention, this is important.) I want to know what your favorite posts have been, and why you keep coming back to read more. If you are brand new here, feel free to read back a bit and catch up, then participate when you can. Heck, I'll even take your suggestions. Now, to be clear, "take your suggestions" is one of those phrases that works a lot like, "I'm listening." It means I will pay attention to what you say and think about it. Nowhere does it say I will do what you are talking about. (Of course, if you send me a suggestion, understand you are granting me any permission to use the idea in my blog as I see fit, without any claim whatsoever on me, the blog, or the meagre earnings it produces annually, whether or not I give you any credit for the inspiration -- got it? Aw, nuts. I "lawyered" again. I might need to seek counseling for that knee jerk reaction.)

Speak up, post your comments, tweet me, email me, let me hear you. If you don't, you may find that I have returned to talking about sports ... and if you thought college football season was dry fodder, you do not want to see me talk about the combine and the pending NFL draft between now and April. For those of you reading this late (and where have you been, by the way?), feel free to join in at any time. I do go back to older posts to see if there have been comments, so don't leave me hanging.

As a general rule, I am open to suggestions and comments, which brings me to the second new thing I want to try. My dear friend @sneakapeekatme (who writes a pretty mean blog, I must say), has made some observations on my blog layout. She observes that reading white letters on a black background is hard on the eyes. She kindly suggests that perhaps a new layout is in order.

Well. I had to think about this for a bit. I love my layout. It took me a long time to find it. I don't even want to talk about how scary it was for me to actually upload it to the site and how crushed I was when I thought I lost my map and list of followers for good.

But I'm over that now, and far be it from me to cause anyone eyestrain.

So, with a little bit of emotional hangup that makes you love me so much (right? am I right? why aren't you saying anything?), I've decided that @sneakapeekatme is right. I need to be ADA compliant and reverse the coloring on my blog.

The problem is ... I cannot do that without a whole a new template.


So here is the deal. Take a gander around the internet and send me some ideas for a new blog layout. If I pick your idea, maybe I'll send you a prize. (I said, "maybe". Think of it like a sweepstakes where no one you ever heard of actually wins.)

Here are the parameters:

1. I don't do "cute." If there are stuffed animals on it, I don't want it. I only allow "cute" decorations in my house if they sing cheery holiday songs, preferably with a a barking dog alongside.

2. I like bright. I don't do flowers, or at least not flowered wallpaper. There is such a thing as too bright, but that more to do with sheer glare on the viewscreen and less to do with amount of color.

3. I hate pink. Okay, that isn't exactly true, but there will be no all-pink or even mostly-pink layouts on this blog.

4. HTML is not my strong suit, but I muddle through. This change may be beyond me. If the layout is too customizable, someone smart and clever like my friend @sneakapeekatme needs to agree to help me fix everything when the whole blog site crashes. Given that she lives an entire continent away, this agreement could be difficult for her to fulfill, so I encourage someone local to volunteer. I strongly encourage. Strongly. Coffee will be provided. Possibly beer.

5. Per conventional wisdom, the text box layout needs to be light or white, with dark (or customizably dark) font.

6. The layout must be free to download and use. I want everyone's ideas on a level playing field, so I am setting the price factor to zero.

So ... what do you think? Will you do it? Tell me your favorites and send me some blog backgrounds?

Will ya? Will ya, huh?


Shopping, Part II

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I'm still stuck in holiday retrospective mode and I can't seem to find my way out. I don't want to put the holiday decorations away, and I think that is part of my problem. I'm thinking that if there is a snowman involved, it isn't "holiday" it's "winter" and it can stay up until Valentine's Day (except for maybe the 8ft inflatable snowman in the front lawn; that should probably go). There. That solves about 1/100th of my holiday cleaning chores.

So, while I'm procrastinating the annual undecking of the halls, I thought I would share another shopping story with you. As a descendant of the Great Man-Shopper I very clearly understand the hazards that can come from over indulgence of shopping, especially in this family. I have long since thought that we must have some sort of mutant gene that causes us to take some things to excess. Nonetheless, I was not always so wise.

Once, a long time ago, I went shopping with my Oldest Sister on Black Friday. Our story begins back in the day when "Door Busters" meant anything before 9 AM and no one (and I mean no one) had even dreamed about opening a store at midnight. People were smarter then, I think. There is no shopping deal worth staying up all night. None. You could give me the dang HD TV for free and I still won't sit outside all night long in the freezing cold for it. (This phenomenon to me is like standing in line to get the new Harry Potter book or whatever the current trend is. The book will still be there next week ... or even better, on line booksellers have invented something called the "pre-order" where you can tell them you want it and they will mail it to you for arrival on the day of release. What a great concept, right?)

Heck, this was so long ago that Bon Ton employees were still snapping polaroids of the lines in the store for the still pretty new Dirt Devils , because they thought the manager wouldn't believe them. Now, I can't go much further with this line of thought because I have already made myself feel very old. Polaroids. Dirt Devils were still new. Yeah. Old.

Anyway, I digress. Oldest Sister had a reputation for tremendous shopping stamina, but in my naivete I thought I could handle the situation. After all, how hard could one day of shopping be, right? We didn't need anything in particular; we were just out looking for Christmas presents. I was younger by a lot, and I loved shopping ... so where was the harm? Obviously my youth could withstand any endurance she might have. Right?

As you well know, these were famous last thoughts. For starters, "just out looking for Christmas presents" meant (to me) that we were roaming from store to store waiting for inspiration and enjoying the shopping experience. Apparently, to some people, like Oldest Sister, "out looking for Christmas presents" is a mission. What we seek we must find. She wanted lists, and itineraries, and goals. I wanted to wander.

Nonetheless, despite our different approaches to shopping, the morning was tolerable. We accomplished a lot, but we still managed to do some meandering. No blood was shed, we all had fun, even though there was a bit more planning involved than a "day out shopping" usually entailed for me.

Then I made a serious mistake. Oldest Sister is subject to sugar fatigue -- no lunch, no pep, no pep, no shop. She tuckered out, and I fed her. Then I made it ... the big mistake. I gave her a cup of coffee.

My sister on caffeine is a scary thing.

Now, all forms of "browsing" were in the past. That was the morning, and this was the afternoon with Oldest Sister strung out on caffeine. Over lunch, as the coffee seeped into her weary tissues, she had managed to sketch out a layout of the mall, with all stores labeled, and had prepared a grid of all the people on our shopping list with annotations and cross references. For as long as the caffeine was in her system, she intended to keep on shopping until that entire list was crossed off and labeled, "Finished".

My sister's naturally bubbly personality was subsumed by the persona of a drill sergeant, and she marched us back and forth across the mall until my feet fell off.

I don't remember a single thing we bought that day, but I remember how much my feet hurt. I remember one of our last stops was Sears, where I already was carrying 5 shopping bags and had no room for anything more, but I bought it anyway. I was struggling to find a place to put these new parcels, and I must have dropped them at least twice before finding a way that worked. Then, Oldest Sister said the immortal words, "On to the next store." The sun had long since set, and dinner had passed us by, but still she was running down the corridor like the Energizer Bunny ... who hadn't yet been created, by the way.

As we walked past the checkout clerk on our way back into the mall I wailed, "Shop 'till you drop was not supposed to be taken literally!" The sounds of the clerk's laughter followed me into the hallway.

I don't know what time we made it home that night, but it was late. Mom had met us at the mall and was having flashbacks of shopping with my Dad. She was making threats to never go out with us again, and she had only been there for a fraction of the day.

On this fateful day, I learned how powerful the genes for shopping obsessively can be.

I also learned that I should never give Oldest Sister coffee after 10 AM.

Finally, I learned that I should also never give Oldest Sister my entire shopping list if I want to make any independent decisions without her standing over me with a spreadsheet and a stopwatch.

Live and learn, and then go shopping alone.


The Truth About My Family

>> Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The holiday season has passed by, but the memories remain, even long after you wish you could push them out of your head.

The Christmas season always makes me think of my grandmother. Most years we would all go to Christmas Eve candlelight services together with some of our friends and neighbors. That is, those that hadn't blacklisted us because they had been to church with us before.

A little while ago I shared a story with you explaining how I was not the ideal person to sit next to at a solemn occasion. Well, it is with great relief that I say, "It's not my fault. Blame my family." I come by my behavior honestly, and I am proud to say that I am by no means the worst in my family. I guess the random urge to giggle uncontrollably in church is genetic, because we all do it, and it predates my birth.

Of all the culprits, though, I swear my Grandmother was the worst. She could control herself under the most provoking of circumstances, and she took great pride in this. She also took great pleasure in attempting to prove to the rest of us that we were not as good.

To be blunt, she was a troublemaker in the pew. (Well, there were a lot of troublemakers, but she was one of the worst.)

For example, one Christmas Eve we would be carefully passing the flame of peace, candle by candle, person by person, row by row. So far I had not even so much as smiled, much less snickered, and I thought we were all doing rather well, all things considered. Then, as the flame of peace approached, people were murmuring, "Peace be with you," all around me, except for one. I distinctly heard my Grandmother stage whisper to my mother, "Don't worry heathen, God will save you."

My mother started to shake.

Candle wax started to drip.

She managed to pass the flame to me without burning anything important. A few seconds later, on my other side, I hear another murmur from my sister's friend to her, "Don't worry, Sister. I won't burn your hair."

More shaking.

More wax falling.

And here I am, trying desperately to behave, trapped in between these two shaking women and their instigators.

What's a girl supposed to do?

Well, it was one of the last times I ever let my mother near me with a candle, for one thing. I believe it was the last time we attended services at that church for another.

Flashback to another Christmas, another service, and a minister with an unusual approach to the sermon. He asked us to "put ourselves back in the time of Christ's birth." We were to close our eyes, and envision ourselves walking around old Bethlehem. He asked us to see the faces, to hear the sounds. Someone in my family whispered, "And smell that smell!"

Too bad we were sitting up front that year.

Given this background, even the most quiet and respectful, solemn and tearful ceremonies were not safe. At my Grandfather's funeral, the funeral home printed the programs like this: John NMN Smith. The "NMN" stood for "No Middle Name." Can you believe that? The funeral director was mortified and had the programs reprinted before the services began. My family, while mortified as well, was also dangerously amused. This misprint was not a good way to start out a funeral service.

The minister was a nice man, but he did not know my Grandfather well at all. Grandpa was a loving and lovable old man, but he was also very much an old crumudgeon in his way. The minister spoke about how much they (he and my Grandfather) had in common, including this, that, and "I know there is one more but I can't remember it right now."

Maybe some families would have been irritated at this disclosure during a sermon, but we were supposed to be sitting quietly and behaving, so irritation was way too proper an emotion for us to be feeling.

So, by the time the minister began asking us to pretend we were hearing a funeral prayer in our "loved one's voice," things were getting bad. We all diligently tried to hear the flowery words of farewell and visions of heaven in Grandpa's voice, but all I could think about was whether he was playing with his hearing aide while talking like he often did, and was I supposed to also be imagining the giant whistling sound emanating from his general direction like it usually did? By the time the farewell ode reached the words, "annointing my feet with flowery oil," things were beyond bad. Grandpa never would have tolerated any scented oil anywhere near him, much less rubbed on his feet, if he had any choice. Suddenly the idea of Grandpa speaking was beyond funny, and we were all shaking with restrained laughter. I think they were about to shut down the funeral and send us all away in disgrace.

Tragically, I could go on and on for pages with more examples of our rampant misbehavior. I'm sure I could make some sort of general excuse that some people deal with overwhelming emotion with tears, and we are processing it through laughter.

No one would buy it, though, even if it is true.

We just aren't right.

Not right at all.

Family gatherings are to be feared. The bigger the gathering, the bigger the risk. When they come from Ohio and Florida to be together, things are bad. When the ones in Texas come too, things are impossible.

Baptize your children quietly, or banish your blood relatives to the back of the church. That's our motto. Take No Chances.

On the whole, I am deeply proud that I only smiled inappropriately during the last baptism and did no worse.

Now you know what kind of effort that took.



>> Monday, January 4, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I know that today isn't exactly New Year's Day anymore, but I figured at least most of you would be too busy recovering from New Year's Eve to bother checking in on New Year's Day. I would have suggested that perhaps you were all too busy watching football Bowl Games, but I know that very few of you who read this blog have any real appreciation for football, so I have restrained myself from making any further enlightened comments about my favorite sport.

I thought that perhaps we might start 2010 off by sharing some New Year's resolutions. I'll go first, then you chime in when you read this.

1. Resist the urge to take new Amazon Kindle e-reader into the bathtub, no matter how good the book I am reading is. Similarly, strongly resist urge to carry Kindle near or in hot tubs and swimming pools. Paperbacks are still superior near water, as they are much cheaper to replace.

2. When Toddler says any sentence with the word, "potty" in it, act with all due haste.

3. Be diligent in ordering Toddler's training pants on line. This will save therapy bills later in life because the local stores do not carry Toddler's size in boy colors. Admit and acknowledge that there is something not quite right in hearing Toddler say he wants to wear his pink big boy diapers and just order them online. If Toddler wishes to embrace traditional feminine colors and other social customs, it will be because he wishes to, not because I was too lazy and dressed him in Disney Pink Princess Pull Ups.

4. Try not to get annoyed at diaper companies for not making training pants gender neutral.

5. Try to be kind to random strangers and distant acquaintences that feel compelled to critique my parenting choices and skills. Chances are they have a social disease and I should make accomodations for them. Regardless, acting on the urge to beat them into submission will be quite inconvenient when the police arrive.

6. Be patient with those who fail to realize that asking the question is almost certainly funnier than Googling the answer.

7. Try not to make too much fun of Blogger Readers who killed Football Wednesdays because of their failure to understand the appeal of such a captivating sport.

8. Focus more effort on removing Camel Crickets safely from the house and not leaving them for the cats to dispatch. Camel Crickets exact digestive revenge, and I have to clean it up anyway, so I'm not saving anything. Better to save time and insect lives.

9. Remember that Toddler is listening to everything I say, and he is getting easier to understand every day when he repeats what I say.

10. Restrain urge to yelp when spiders come near so that Toddler will not imitate me.

11. Clip handles of bags with bows and all brown bags sitting around the house at Christmas time.

12. Start a petition to get Pluto its job back.

13. Learn to throw out magazines and books without reading them if I think they aren't interesting.

14. Invest in a mop or similar floor cleaning device.

15. Make better effort to come up with original blog entries and not generate lists that refer back to earlier posts when I run out of ideas.

This one isn't a resolution, but it is my fervent New Year's wish: Return the rain to a more reasonable level, please. (Rain 1, Rain 2, Rain 3, Rain 4)

Okay, now it's your turn. Write your resolutions in the comments. I'll get you started:

A. Read, "It's All Good If You Can Laugh" every weekday without fail.

B. Repost "It's All Good If You Can Laugh" on my Facebook Wall everyday so all my friends can read it.

C. ReTweet "It's All Good If You Can Laugh" daily.

D. Talk about "It's All Good If You Can Laugh" with my friends.

(The rest you have to do yourself)


Again With the Devotion!

>> Friday, January 1, 2010

Hello again. Today is New Year's Day, in case last night's party was a bit too much or you have been living under a rock without a calendar and haven't bothered to make any marks in the wall to keep track of time.

I was going to show you all a list of my resolutions for 2010, but then I thought it might be better to wait for everyone to show up back here on Monday morning. Besides, this gives me a chance to focus on college football for the day.

Oh, that's right. If you understood the appeal of college football bowl games, you would have much better things to do than check into this blog on New Year's Day.

So, come back on Monday, and we will all share our resolutions in a big giant show and tell.

If you don't have any written resolutions yet, then you have until Monday to organize your thoughts in writing so you can share them with the class.

See you Monday.


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