Everything I Touch Turns to ... Nothing Whatsoever

>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I have been reflecting a little bit on my life, and I think perhaps I have a hidden streak of really bad luck that I never noticed before.  Obviously, I am not getting too much trauma out of the situation, but I am beginning to think that perhaps venerated institutions should think carefully before affiliating themselves with me.

Let's review my track record here.

My elementary school was not shockingly old when I attended.  It was solid, brick, one-story ... and is now an administration building.  They converted it years and years (sadly, and years) ago.  All the other elementary schools in our district were renovated.  Mine was shut down.

My junior high ... is also not a junior high anymore.  They didn't even bother renovating it.  They just shut it down and built a new one across town.  Okay, to be fair, they moved my elementary school into one of the floors, converted the rest into offices, and moved all the junior high school kids across town.

My high school barely escaped my legacy, suffering only a major renovation the year before I graduated.  As one of our graduation speakers explained so well, we went from being freshmen who couldn't find their way around the new building, to seniors ... who couldn't find our way around the new building.  I still have these somewhat confused dreams from time to time about the old building, and the new building, all sorta blended into one.  I find it very disconcerting, like I went to two different high schools, but with all the same people and all the same teachers.

Not even Harvard Law School was immune to my powers.  I entered as a 1L in the final year of pre-renovated Langdell Library.  For my entire 2L year, the library was held in a conference room with limited books available quickly.  (In theory, all were available from archives, but let's just say that legal research via internet was strongly encouraged ... really strongly encouraged ... all the law firms loved that.)  By the time we got back into the newly renovated library in our 3L year, the inside of the building was so different people didn't even enter and exit from the same story as before.  Gone was the somewhat creepy twisty stairs leading to the stacks, where if you met someone coming up while you were going down, you met on the landing and negotiated who would yield.  (Interestingly enough, you still have to do that in some portions of Patee Library at Penn State, despite the rampant renovations up there, so at least some small portions of this world are too big and stubborn to succumb to whatever this influence I seem to have.  Nonetheless, Penn State did dismantle my major, which, too, is no more.)

As if all this weren't bad enough, I recently found out that the church where Darling Husband and I got married has switched denominations.  I just don't even know what to say about that.  Am I still allowed to go visit when I go to that town?  What is the protocol here?  I've never heard of such a thing.

When Darling Husband and I were planning our wedding, we talked with the people who sold the china we wanted.  We didn't want to register for something that was quickly going to be discontinued.  They assured me that the pattern we wanted was one of the most popular and should be around for years and years before hitting the rotation to be discontinued.  I don't think we even lasted 6 months before our pattern was on the list. 

I almost managed to get the pattern for my favorite Christmas dishes discontinued, too.  Shortly after we started collecting them, the company came out with a replacement.  Thankfully, the masses went into near panic, because the company eventually changed its mind and decide instead to have "new style" and "old style" versions of the pattern.  (The "new style" hardly even blends or contrasts with the old style even if you wanted to mix and match.  Instead, they nearly clash, so you should probably read, "new style" as short for "New pattern I wanted to give the same name as the old pattern but no one would let me so I'm just making it up as I go along and trying to make it look intentional".)  Whew!  My powers are not quite as strong as the legacy of a holiday china pattern that is older than me.  Thank goodness for some favors.

I got my first apartment that didn't require me to share a bathroom in 1998.  I used much of the last of the money in my checking account to buy a nice set of bookshelves so my apartment looked like perhaps a young professional was moving in, rather than someone borrowing her grandmother's antique sofa and a chair her mother got from licking Greenstamps until her tongue fell off.  The full set, as displayed at IKEA, was inexpensive but not cheap, fake redwood consisting of two tall bookcases, two short bookcases, a corner piece, two clip on lamps for the tall bookcase, and two extenders to go on top of the tall bookcases -- 9 pieces total.   I figured, being prudent with my plastic, the best I could do was buy the two tall bookcases, the two short ones, and the clip on lamps (since light was at a premium in my apartment after the sun moved to the other side of the building).  The extenders and the beautiful corner piece would have to wait six months or so until I could be sure not to get snowed under.  The first paycheck was due in a few weeks, and I was only getting paid monthly, so I had to be careful.  Of course, within four months, the fake redwood color had been discontinued.  My choices were blonde, brown, and some shade of honey.  No corner, no extenders, nothing in red for me.  (*sigh*) 

I have had trouble waiting to buy anything I wanted from that moment on.  I think about this fiasco every time I try to make an addition to that set, which still lives in my living room more than 10 years later.  I am proud to say it stood the test of time, and it looks very nice with real cherry wood furniture.  Finding matching pieces has cost more per piece than the original set did in its entirety, though.

And ... my luck doesn't end with dishes and furniture.

When I was in my "need suits and matched clothing" stage of life, only one store made things that fit me well without alteration:  Petite Sophisticate.  RIP, Petite Sophisticate.  I am largely responsible for how quick the close-out sales were at the stores in the final days, and I still haven't found a good replacement.  My PS suits got me at least three jobs, if not more.  If only I had bought more while they were around, maybe they would still be here.

I am hopeful that this curse is mine and mine alone, but I fear the trait may be genetic.  When Toddler was in his "fed by tube" stage, and we tried to get him to drink something ... anything ... the only beverage he would tolerate was an orange flavored pediatric drink that was discontinued mere months after we finally found it.  Believe me, I bought every bottle of that stuff I could find in any store in the tri-state area, and we rationed it like liquid gold, but eventually we ran out.  He survived, but every once in a while he asks, "Mommy, orange milk?" 

I can only hope that since I am the one who found the "orange milk," and since he is my son, that my curse is ruling his life.  When he moves out on his own, perhaps he will find that the curse stays with me and he will finally be free.

I hope so.


"How To" and Cures to Common Ailments

>> Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I was thinking today, that we all need a little more success and achievement in our lives.  (Right?  We can all agree on that, right?)  We have all been very wrapped up in trying to solve the problems of the nation, and we cannot seem to agree on the best way of doing that.  I think we need to stop, take a deep breath, and focus on the debilitating things in our lives that we really can fix.  So many of the concerns in this world that plague us have very simple remedies.  Our only issue is not how to solve our problems, but how to put the remedy in the same place as the problem.

For example:

The cure for insomnia is the 6 AM alarm clock.
The cure for dehydration in small children is potty training.
The cure for constipation is a colonoscopy.
The cure for a drought is an outdoor wedding.
The cure for a burnt barbecue meal on Father's Day is a rainstorm.
The cure for too many TV channels is a night with nothing to do.

See? We have the problems, and we have the solutions, we just need to put them in the same place at the same time.

Feeling blue? Smug?  We can fix that, too:

The cure for a feeling of inferiority is watching Congress.
The cure for a feeling of superiority is watching Congress and realizing we elected these people.
Another cure for a feeling of inferiority is reading the blog of someone who can't spell and hasn't found the spellchecker button.
Another cure for a feeling of superiority is realizing you can't spell either
With a little more thought, we can even find the solution to slightly more complex problems, like overly attached newlyweds.  If you have a set in your family or friendship circle, try this:  Buy them a queen sized bed with a pillow top.  Wait a month or so, then invite them to stay at your house, where you should provide them with a double bed with no pillow top and slightly weakening springs.  In a matter of hours (possibly a day if they are truly devoted), they will be flipping coins to see who has to sleep on the floor.  The effect is multiplied if your devoted couple consists of one big person and one little person.  The little person will probably object to the crater in the middle of the bed that causes him or her to roll into the gravity well of the larger person.  Trust me -- this plot works.

Last, and my own personal favorite, if you know someone that needs a chuckle, recite Murphy's Law 5 different ways in one blog post and show it to them.  If you are really lucky, they will probably think you are being very original and clever, too.


I Want What They Had ... I Think

>> Monday, March 29, 2010

A few weeks ago I was riding along in the backseat of the car, late at night in rural Pennsylvania.  Because it was late at night, and rural Pennsylvania, and because I couldn't really hear much going on in the front seat over the cacophony of children's music through the stereo, I was looking out the window. 

Toddler, who was sitting next to me, was adding to the cacaphony while looking out the window and trying desperately not to fall asleep.  I'm sure you've seen it ... the random shrieking, the loud singing, and the rhythmic kicking of the seat in front of him, all to keep those eyes from drifting closed....  If you haven't seen it, I will say it can be a treat to watch if you bring ear plugs.

All things considered, conversation between the front and the back seat was next to impossible, and with Toddler so wired, I was forced to do my impersonation of the invisible woman to avoid "engaging him" any more than absolutely necessary.  Sitting in a dark car being quiet meant I had little but my imagination to entertain me on the long drive.  Leaving me alone with my imagination is not always wise.

Out on the horizon this night were about a million, billion, bajillion stars.  (Did I mention it was a dark night in rural Pennsylvania?)   I know this number is about right because I tried to count them.  Then I realized I could see Orion from the window, along with a whole heck of a lot of Scorpio.  I stared at them (because, in case you weren't paying attention, I didn't have all that much else to do.)  After a few moments, I got a familiar nagging question in my mind.  I got to wondering about those Greeks and other folks that looked up in the sky and gave names to the groups of stars.  I wondered:


I'm looking at these three stars that make up "Orion's belt," and I am thinking, "Why, yes, that is a pretty darn distinctive group of stars.  I can certainly understand how any human would be attracted to it as a group."

I don't know that I would have come up with "belt," though.  I mean, to have a "belt" you probably have to have a "person" to wear the "belt," and that is where I lose it.  I'm looking all around the nearby stars, and without one of those star charts that draws the lines between the stars to show me the whole constellation, I just don't see a man out of it.  Actually, even with one of those star charts, I am hard pressed to get a "man" out of that drawing.  I mean, look at it -- the guy has no head!

Even better, he has no feet, either!  Apparently, those two stars, Betelgeuse (why am I humming?) and Bellatrix (oh, no!  Sirius Black, look out!) are Orion's shoulders, and Rigel and the other one at the bottom are his knees.   So, apparently, we have a hunter with no head, nothing below his knees, and from my view of the picture, the absolute longest fingers EVER.

I just don't get how any Greek looked up in the sky and saw "hunter" from this.

What I'm really wondering is if something got lost in the translation.  Maybe there were a couple of people standing on a hill, telling stories, and someone said to someone, "Hey, you ... write this down.  Draw these stars.  Start with that one up there, then draw a line to that one --no, no, that one over THERE right above the tree -- and then come down to where my finger is pointing ..."  I mean, I can easily see how this somehow got all botched up.

At some point, though, I would have thought someone would have looked at the pictures and figured out something was wrong.  But no.  This sort of distortion appears in constellation after constellation. Somehow everyone had this same sort of warped perspective.  Was eyesight really different back then?   Were there a lot of distorted looking people running around that don't exist anymore?  Was Erik Von Daniken really right about extra-terrestrials after all?  Did they all have a secret set of Pablo Picasso glasses?

Alas, I think the answer must be fairly obvious. It had to be the moonshine.  Either that or mass hallucination.  I suspect they are actually the same thing.

The only question I have left is whether I would be brave enough to try that moonshine if someone gave me a cup today.


Children's Songs

>> Friday, March 26, 2010

(Music to following songs from Toddler's weekly music class.  You may recognize a few.)

Biddy-biddy, bum, bum, I hate children's songs.
Biddy-biddy, bum, bum, please make them stop.
Biddy-biddy, bum, bum, they're so catchy.
Biddy-biddy, bum, bum, I want to hurl.
The child is in bed and no one else is singing,
but still here it comes, that song in my head.
Biddy-biddy, bum, bum, I hate children's songs.
Biddy-biddy, bum, bum, please make them stop.


There is a friend I'd like to smack.
I promise I will get her back.
Instead of sending snacks to eat,
She bought my kid a drum to beat
with a bang, and a bang, and a bang, bang, bang
and a bang, and a bang, and a bang, bang, bang.
There he goes, all day long,
Help me please, I must be strong
with a bang, and a bang, and a bang, bang, bang
and a bang, and a bang, and a bang, bang bang.


She thinks children's songs are annoying.
She thinks children's songs are too catchy.
Bright and chipper melodies linger on.
Bright and chipper melodies linger on.
Please, hum something else!
She thinks children's songs are annoying.
She thinks children's songs are too catchy.

There was one in the bed
And the little one said,
"No NAP!  No NAP!"
So he won't take a nap,
and my head's gonna split.

There was one in the bed
And the little one said,
"Want up!  Want up!"
So he won't take a nap
and I think I'm going nuts.

There was one in the bed
And the little one said,
"Need potty!  Need potty!"
But he won't go poop
and we're running out of cash.

There was one in the bed
And the mommy said,
"He's your son.  He's your son."
And the daddy said, "Huh?"
And the mommy shut the door.

There were two in the hall
and the Daddy said,
"Let's go son. Let's go son."
So they both went to dinner
and the mommy smiled.

The End.


It Sounds Different Somehow....

>> Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yesterday I had a rare pleasure.  I got to take Toddler to sit in a surgical center waiting room for a few hours while waiting for my friend to get a scar removed under anaesthesia.  We were the designated driver.  So, not only did I have to remain sober and drug free during our stay, I had to keep Toddler quiet, appropriately fed, and entertained.  Depending on what minute you asked me, I was succeeding or failing at any one of these individual items (or wishing I were), but that is almost beside the point.

Almost from the moment we arrived at the surgical center, something interesting happened.  Toddler began saying things I hadn't heard (or at least hadn't realized I heard) before.  Suddenly, for one afternoon, I saw the world from Toddler's eyes, mirrored back to me in what he said.  Check it out:

TODDLER (to most everyone):  Hello, sweetheart!  (Everyone laughed and said, "Well hello, sweetheart!)

To the nurse:  Fix friend's nose!  Friend's nose is purple and red. (It was.  Everyone laughed.)

To my friend:  You're cute!  You're cute!  You're cute!  (Everyone laughed and said, "No, YOU'RE cute.)

To me when we left my friend for her surgery:  Don't worry, mommy.  Don't worry.  Everything will be OOOOOKKAAAAAYYYY. (Everyone laughed.)

To anyone that handed him a sticker or toy:  Ooooohh, wooooooowwwwww!!!!  (Everyone laughed.)

To his coloring book:   Big Bird, hold still!  I color now!  Mommy!  I tickle Big Bird!

To the clerk in the cafeteria:  No toys on the table! (She laughed.)

To the nurse in the bathroom:  No toys! (She looked blankly at him.)

To Pluto the Dog:  Uh oh!  Pluto fell!  Are you okay, Pluto?  I'm fine, Pluto.  Is it slippery, Pluto?  (I am not aware that Pluto answered any of this.)

To my friend after surgery:  Nose is all fixed now!  All better!  (Everyone laughed.)

To everyone he saw:  Goodbye everybody!  (Everyone laughed and said goodbye.)

We threw 3 pennies into the fountain because the clerk wanted to give him pennies.  The clerk was sorry when he got upset because there were no more pennies.

We went to the bathroom 200 times that I remember, sometimes less than five minutes apart.  Not all of the trips were successful, nor were all of them on time.  I reassert my belief that the potty training stage for little boys is fraught with peril and all nearby personnel should be wearing scuba gear.  Large public toilets were also not designed with small boys in mind, but I also affirm the Huggies commercial that putting a diaper near a little boy's nether regions will prevent a lot of heartache.  Of course, now that I am once again carrying spare trousers in my bag, no emergency clothes changes have been required.  Murphy's law has granted me that much predictability at least.

The floor of the surgical center bathrooms is white.  The floor of the waiting room where the crayons kept falling is blue carpet.  The pre-op area where Pluto the dog kept falling is also blue carpet.  The wall where the millk somehow ended up has blue wallpaper.  The elevator we took up and down to the cafeteria is number 8.  The elevator we took up to the surgical area when we got there was number 2, and the one we took back down was number 3.  The crayons in our box are red, blue, yellow, and green, and depending on when you count them, they are 4, 5, or 6 in number.

We touched the floor, the potty, doorknobs and trashcans and we survived.

Then we went home. 


The Ultimate in Renewable Energy

>> Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I may have stumbled on the answer to the world's energy problems.  Actually, if I'm right, the answer has been staring us all in the face for eons.  The only question in my mind is how we safely harvest it.

This great epiphany came to me the other day when I decided to time Toddler's temper tantrum.  From start to finish, this raging ball of fury burned for an hour.  He took two five minute time out breaks to tell me calmly and quietly that he was "Mad, Mommy!"  Each time, he quieted down enough to take a few deep breaths.  He acted like he was wearing out, but after this little five minute "recharge," he was off and screaming again like his batteries were full.

So, 39 minutes into this tirade, I wondered what would happen if we could bottle all this energy and distribute it to the power plants and auto manufacturers of the world.  I think maybe, just maybe, we could solve all of our energy problems this way.  The only question left in my mind is how do we collect the energy given off during one of these tantrums in an efficient manner?  The collection device would have to be portable, because the best of tantrums happen in public, on no notice, when children are secretly hoping that their parents will do or say anything to make the screaming stop.  Other good opportunities for spontaneous tantrum-ing are:  the car when the parents are really occupied ... like when the cops have pulled over mommy or daddy for trying to get across Indiana before dark when the state magically stretches, or when parents are rummaging for change at the toll booth.  I have never witnessed this, but I hear rumors that a security station at a courthouse or airport offers ample opportunity as well.  The possibilities are endless.

The only drawback I can see is if this idea becomes all too popular.  If the general public realizes that their electric bills can plummet by harnassing the energy given off by tantruming kids, then random strangers may start following small children around to pester them and see if they will start something.  In fact, tantrums may become so accepted that they will lose their effectiveness.  Adults will welcome the screaming instead of living in fear of it, and when that happens, children will stop tantrums altogether.

Either way, I figure we win.  We get rid of our energy problems, or we end childhood temper tantrums forever. 

What do you think?  Am I on to something?


I Shouldn't Be Surprised Anymore ... and Yet ...

>> Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I should stop being surprised.  I should just give it up for Lent ... oh.  A little late for that.  Maybe next year.

There are lots of things in this world that I think I should be able to count on, but I am surprised to find out that I can't.  For example: there are nine planets in our solar system.  I would think I should be able to count on this number, and at worst the number would increase, not decrease.  Alas, no.  I can't count on that.  Poor Pluto.  It's a bad time to be out of work.

I would like to count on the sun rising every morning, but I haven't seen it since Daylight Savings Time began because Virginia's climate has shifted to "Rain Forest" since around April of 2009 (something else I would like to have counted on not happening).

On the other hand, some things I don't want to count on.  I want them to change, but they never will.  I remain ever the optimist, and I continue to be surprised when they don't change, but I am getting weary.

Here are a few of those things.  Please feel free to add some of your own.

1.  Tall men are physicially incapable of seeing crumbs on a countertop, yogurt smears on a table, and rings in a bathtub.  It took me a long time to figure out what was the real problem with this one, and I finally narrowed it down to "tall men."  I know plenty of people, men and women alike, who refuse to do anything about rings in the bathtub and crumbs on the table, but for the most part these people can see the mess.  They have to be able to see it to refuse to do anything about it.  Also, I have met short men and tall women that are fastidious about messes even I can't see.  Finally, I figured it out when I found Darling Husband vacumming the carpet with the hose while on his knees.  His reason?  "I want to be able to see if I miss anything."  It all makes sense now.

2.  Small children consider the words, "Honey, Mommy needs a minute" to be a personal challenge.  Often this observation is true for larger children as well, sometimes very large children.

3.  Counting to 3 at the cat will only make the cat look at you funny.  Cats may act like the average toddler some days, but they still can't count.

4.  I can have a mutual discussion with someone, only to find out later that we each were having a different conversation.  It would go something like this:

Roommate:  I went ahead and moved the laundry from the washer to the dryer and folded the stuff in the dryer. 
Me:  Thanks!  (Time passes.)   Umm, how come there are no socks on my pile other than the ones I folded?
Roommate:  I don't know.
Me:  Did you fold any of my socks?
Roommate:  Um, no.  Was I supposed to?
Me:  They were part of the load in the dryer.
Roommate:  Oh.  They are on the dryer in a heap waiting for you to mate them.
Me:  Oh.

If I told you what happened when I asked someone to put my computer in my bag by the front door, I don't think you'd believe me.

5.  I will probably never be able to find the secret switch that activates the moment the bathroom door is closed by sending out a signal to eveyone in a 6 mile radius to "Come now!  Now!"

6.  Murphy's Law is alive and well and gaining strength.

7. Highways run in two directions, but apparently they are not the same length in each direction.  Actually, they appear to change length depending on who is driving.  If you understand this sad fact of life, then my hat is off to you noble sir or madam.  If you can't figure out what I'm talking about, I won't be expecting you at my 50th birthday party.  

8. One you become a practicing lawyer, there are a few words you never type correctly again.  They are: statute statue, and waive wave. I have tried for years to fix this problem.

I would change every one of these items (and more) if I could.  In fact, in my, "the glass is half full" kind of world I am ever hopeful they will change, and eternally disappointed when they do not.


My Cats Backtalk, But Hers Gives Lectures

>> Monday, March 22, 2010

I think my cats talk to me all the time. No one who meets my cats has ever suggested that I need psychological help. Somehow, they just psychically impart their snarkiness into the brains of the people they favor with their presence. (Or, in the case of Houdini, the words, "Pet me!")

Apparently I am not the only one whose cats try to communicate with words. Brenda, author of the blog, Mama Be Good, has a cat that writes her letters in her blog. 

If you haven't guessed by now, today is another Shout Out.  Take a look: Click here or cut and past the link below.  I am willing to bet you will love this one.



It's Okay to Laugh -- Really

>> Sunday, March 21, 2010

Some people grieve through lamentations, while others grieve through laughter. It doesn't really matter how you grieve, just remember that by walking through the valley of despair, your grief will heal you even as it changes you forever.

Happy March 21, Everyone.


Oh, What a Night ... Sing it With Me!

>> Friday, March 19, 2010

I used to always hate the time change that comes with Springtime. I'd wake up on a Sunday morning, lounging in bed, looking at the sunlight stream in, feeling like it was ... I don't know ... 8 AM or something -- only to find out it was really 9 AM and I was already late. No amount of preparation could fully take the edge off the disappointment.

For the past two years, though, I was learning to face this day with a little bit more optimism. You see, having a child under age 3 gives one a very different perspective of mornings than living childless, or than having older children. My goal is not to get my Toddler up early, cheerful, and on time (usually). No ... my goal is to figure out how to get him to stay in bed later without resorting to rope.

And with that little problem, I think this Daylight Savings Time might help me. This was my plan: If I we did nothing different, then Toddler would wake up at exactly the same time on Sunday morning, only the clock would say an hour later. Then, come Monday morning, he would actually sleep in because I wouldn't reset his body clock.

You aren't going to believe this, but our plan actually worked ... at least so far. I imagine all this good news goes out the window (literally) as soon as the sun starts rising earlier, or maybe even as soon as it stops raining (whenever that might be).

With Toddler waking up later (at first only pretend later on Sunday, then actually later on Monday), we have officially made this time change weekend the most unique one ever seen in this household. In fact, it was unique from beginning to end.

The first change was that Darling Husband had almost all the clocks set ahead before we even went to bed on Saturday night. We actually made it to bed at a decent hour, too, which is something just short of a miracle on the weekends.

Not all the differences were good ones, though. For example, Darling Husband had redone some of the plugs in our bedroom so we would be less likely to start an electrical fire under our bed (important, you know). Unfortunately, this led to a small short in the IPOD speaker clock that would have involved moving the mattress to fix. Rather than move the mattress in the middle of the night, we watched the blue aura from the IPOD light up the room, then plunge us into a darkness no modern bedroom knows this side of a power outage, then light up again, then go dark, then ... you know.

A few hours later, we heard the distinct hacking that comes from a cat with a hairball. With the patient ears of long practice, we recognized the sound was coming from Houdini, who happened to be sleeping on Darling Husband's legs. Here is how the scene played out.

ME: Is that Houdini about to throw up?
DH: I think so.
ME: Where is he? In the hall?
DH: No, he's here ... on the bed.
ME: Oh. I guess we should get ready to clean it up.
DH: Right. [Gets out of bed and puts hacking cat on the floor.]
ME: Did you just put the cat on the floor?
DH: Yes.
ME: Don't you think it would be easier to clean up if he just puked in the comforter? The we can throw it in the wash tomorrow. If he pukes on the floor, we'll have to actually scrub it tonight, and it is the middle of the night.
DH: Good point. [Gets out of bed and returns hacking cat to the bed.] I was just thinking I didn't really want him yacking on my leg.
ME: I can understand that, but it wouldn't really BE your leg. It would be the comforter.
DH: You are right [I love that part.]

After all that, the cat never even puked. Can you believe it? I don't think I want to know what ended up happening with that hairball, though.

Alas, we were not done with the nighttime drama. Even later that night, Toddler woke up with a stuffy nose and probably a bit of a nightmare. I pulled my beleagured self out of bed, walked over to his room, and gave him a hug. I was all prepared to do my mommy best to make everything okay. Usually, he starts with, "Me need a hug."

This night, instead, he said ... "I want Daddy."

I want Daddy.

I got out of my warm and inviting bed to comfort my ailing son, because that is what a good mom does, and what does he say? I want Daddy.

I walked back to our bedroom and crawled back into bed. On the one hand, I was rejected by my only offspring. On the other hand ... I got to go back to bed. I think those things about balance themselves out in the middle of the night. When the next words Toddler said to "Daddy" was, "Me need go potty," I knew in my heart my child really loved me best.

Finally, one more difference I have noted this year for Daylight Savings Time that I don't recall from other years is that the sunlight never did stream in to the window, no matter how late it got. Ever since we pushed the clocks ahead, it has been raining.

Oh. Wait. That isn't new. It's been raining (or snowing) pretty much since this blog started in May of 2009.

Never mind.


Wait ... Something Isn't Right Here

>> Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yesterday, I tried to be good. I entered into a cleaning game with another bored and busy mom on Twitter, and we cajoled each other into finishing our list of things to do. With her help, I had more done by Toddler's nap time then I often get done in an entire day. Then she went psycho on me and wanted to start a new list! Wow! Okay ... I think I can do that. I vacuumed the entire house. Even the hardwood. Heck, I even vacuumed the basement stairs ... or half of them, at least.

Then my friend "remembered she had some errands" and left me with an unfinished to-do list. Can you believe it? I actually FINISHED a to-do list, and I STILL somehow managed to get suckered into having an unfinished list.

So there I was, feeling good about myself and all I achieved, trying all the while not to think about how fast the boys and Girl Cat were going to mess up, crumb on, and shed on all my hard work.

Then, today dawned. I decided, "This is it. Yesterday I tried to be good, and today I WILL be good." I pried my not-very-morning body out of bed and took my bright eyed and bushy tailed child and his toy dog Pluto for a walk. (We cannot go anywhere without this little figurine of Pluto. I certainly hope we never lose it. Already I get the shivers every time I hear, "Mommy, where Pluto?")

But, back to my story. I went for a walk, before 9 AM, with Toddler. Yes. Me. I went exercising before I had a cup of coffee.

Now, I was under the very significant impression that an early morning exercise routine is supposed to wake me up and give me energy for the rest of the day. Whether you agree or not, I assure you that anything before 9 AM is classified as early morning under every standard definition.

Something didn't go quite right. I enjoyed the walk. We burned some calories and had some fun, but we didn't really tire ourselves out too much.

Still, when we got back, I felt disenchanted and weary and a little bit tense. I blame it on the fact that I really don't enjoy walking for the sake of walking, and I could not find a safe path to the McDonalds for some hash browns. (I suspect there is some logic to that.)

Perhaps I could blame it on the fact that I could not safely cross the two lane "highway" at the end of our street and the sidewalk on our side only goes so far, leaving me with some stretches of walking through the muddy overgrowth, holding Toddler fiercely by the hand, carrying the stroller over my shoulder while he hollers, "Me want push stroller and walk Pluto!"

Nah. There is nothing stressful about that.

Maybe the problem came later when I decided to explore some neighborhood streets to see if they led to some sidewalks. All that managed to do was put me 3 blocks further away from home, back up on the main road, with no choice but to retrace my steps through he neighborhood or walk along three blocks more of un-sidewalked highway.

Of course, with my stubborness, and the CVS and McDonalds just at the horizon, I didn't want to go back. I waited again to try to cross the street. One helpful driver even stopped traffic in his lane to let me go, but no one in the other lane cared and I eventually waved him on.

At last, admitting that McDonalds was truly unattainable (and remembering I didn't bring my wallet), I decided to turn for home. Home was 5 blocks "thataway" with no sidewalk in between. Or, it was 3 blocks through the neighborhood plus a block of sidewalk on the big street, plus a block of no sidewalk on the big street. Or I could stand there forever waiting for the traffic to clear so I could cross the street to get to the sidewalk, knowing that crossing back might take all day.

I opted to take the straight shot home. I took the front lawn of the local homes if it looked well-packed enough and I wasn't killing any major plant life. When that wasn't available, I waited for our side of the traffic to clear, and I ran like hell from driveway to driveway, pushing Toddler all the way.

He thought it was funny. "Mommy go faster!" (See, I'm telling you, there was some real exercise here.)

None of it was stressful, though. There is nothing at all stressful about a mom, a stroller, a busy road, a Toddler, and a toy Pluto all trying to occupy the same space at approximately the same time.

Of course, nothing even close came to going wrong. No car came near us. We spent most of the time so far up people's yards I thought I should ring the bell and sell cookies. I think we were safer most of the time than if we had had a sidewalk because of my paranoia, but still ... there is something soothing about a sidewalk, even if it has a 5 foot ditch next to it big enough to swallow whole strollers.

I came home and wanted a nap. I did not feel invigorated. I did not nap, though. I have a Toddler, remember?

Maybe next time we will make it the whole way to McDonalds. Maybe next time we will cross the street. I may have to re-evaluate my timing, though. Perhaps morning rush hour was not a good time to try this after all. Maybe 9 PM next time, when Toddler is *supposed* to be asleep.

Hmm. I have to stop writing now. Toddler just woke up from his nap. I just heard him say, "Oh! Hello, Pluto!"


Is Ironing a Form of Elder Abuse?

>> Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Recently, I made some confessions on Facebook about laundry. I was annoyed because even though I had started Monday morning with diligence, the laundry had multiplied faster than muddy footprints and I was still doing it on Thursday afternoon. Given that we only have three humans and three cats in the house in an average week, I thought four days of laundry was a bit ... extreme. To me, laundry is singularly annoying because it keeps recurring like a bad fungus. I believe I can tolerate most any chore, but only if I can cross it off my list with at least a few days to spare before I have to write it back on. Four days of laundry was not doing it for me.

Then I made a confession that seemed to shock some people.

I gave up ironing in 1999 when my office went to Business Casual dress. Now, I only iron if the alternative of buying a new outfit is not available and failing to be de-wrinkled might mean someone loses a job. I buy "wash and wear" only.

I do have friends that continue to iron, and seem to enjoy it, but I honestly cannot understand where they are coming from. To me, ironing is a mundane chore that always takes way longer than it should, is never good enough, and if you blink or drift your concentration for one second, the garment is worse than if you had just left it alone. I have ironed new collar creases into stiff-collar shirts and new pants creases into dress pants that already had one. I could never iron a straight edge unless I wasn't supposed to, and I burned so many things my old iron developed a permanent smoke colored ring on the flat surface.

Even before the invention of Business Casual and wrinkle-free Dockers, I tried hard to find ways to not spend all my spare moments ironing. I said goodbye to cotton unless someone gave it to me, and I developed a relationship with the drycleaner down the street. Before the days when I could afford a drycleaner, and when I was too proud to wear polyester, I had another weapon.

I had my mother.

Mother would help me move in and out of law school dorms, or across 5 states for a summer job, and she would always say, "What do you want me to do?" I'd hand her an iron and three boxes of clothes. One June morning in a sublet in Pittsburgh, I handed her a suitcases of linen jackets and skirts. My mother is a perfectionist.

Some of you are so far from the ironing culture that you don't even know why that is funny.

That poor woman stood in that apartment for 6 hours trying to iron 6 outfits.

The worst part is that she agreed to do the same thing when I moved back at the end of the summer and when I moved to another apartment the following spring.

She was such a fan of a wrinkle-free garment that she couldn't bear the thought of what it would look like if I had to do it myself. Sometimes she would come and take the iron from me when I was living at home and just finish my blouse after I ironed in another monstrous wrinkle near the collar. I would like to say she took the iron "gently and silently" from me and eased my frustrated burden with warm understanding.

I would say that, but then I wouldn't be talking about my mother. More likely, she would muscle me out of the way and say something like, "Oh for heaven's sake you've already been working on this pile all day and we're supposed to go meet your sister for pizza. How hard is it to iron one white interview blouse? Can't you see you are ironing in creases? What do you have this iron set on? Is there any water in it? This isn't my good iron that looks like this, is it?"

You might think that my mom is some kind of domestic superstar with a vengeance, but that isn't quite true either. Rather, I would call her a perfectionist with little patience for re-doing someone's mistakes, who hates ironing but can't stand to see her youngest daughter leave the house in something that looks "that bad." Someone might think she never taught me to iron.

Anyway, after about 3 years of this ironing fiasco, she went on strike. She swore the next time I moved, she would not be trapped the entire day in front of an ironing board, no matter how much pizza, beer, and videos I offered her. (Of course, on move-in day, there is no cable in any apartment, so she had to make do with tapes of edited-for-tv movies and the occasional Star Trek cassette. DVDs had not yet been invented.) Thank goodness that business casual was only a few months away from taking over the legal profession.

I haven't thought about my ironing board for years. It was a hand-me-down from a friend of my sister's and the cover never quite stayed on right. I still have it ... somewhere. Darling Husband used to use it from time to time, but then he found the miracle of wrinkle-free Docker's shirts (which is a good thing, because his ironing skills were better than mine, but his idea of "wrinkle-free" would never live up to my mother's standard.)

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if mother came to visit and I mentioned I needed something ironed. Would she agree? I have FiOS TV now, with video on demand. Or, perhaps, would she suddenly develop a case of arthritis? Would the woman who just helped me paint and entire bedroom refuse one ... little ... blouse?

I suspect so.


Bloggy Strike Day

>> Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I am not writing a blog post today. I refuse. If you had my day, you would refuse too.

I'm tired.

I'm grumpy.

I have to take my child to music class today where we will sing and dance to children's songs that I have not been able to get out of my head for 6 weeks. Yesterday, I took Toddler to 5 different stores (which should get me a gold medal in the first place), and a tired woman with a toddler of her own came up and told me she and her daughter sang all those songs too. Apparently Toddler and I were singing them through the stores.

My child told me he deliberately peed in his training pants so he could wear a diaper again.

I have been away from home for too many weekends in a row, and people can tell what my original hair color was. I'm afraid that if I keep this up, I will find that I am really gray. No. No. That will not happen. On the other hand, I am refusing to take Toddler to the hair stylist on the subway, with a stroller, to wait in the hair salon when our portable DVD player has broken. I have my limits and so does the general public.

Last night I was woken up not once, but twice, by two separate cats yacking on me and one cat fight. After a quick bed change in the middle of the night, I know I am facing another full day of laundry to deal with the aftermath. As if that weren't enough, someone apparently slipped a decongestant into my spaghetti without my knowledge, and I was up several times expelling water I never drank in the first place.

My son does not like spaghetti or macaroni and cheese (although he likes Tuna noodle casserole with cream sauce) and would rather just sit there and whine for applesauce.

My mother and Darling Husband have been sick for several days. Neither one of them will take medicine without nagging. This morning Toddler woke up with a faucet coming out his nose and a viscious post-nasal cough.

I own two pairs of jeans and I just noticed that one of them is almost see through in patches under the right light. I don't want to think about how many places I have been to recently that have "the right light."

I spent yesterday evening watching Darling Husband apply a wallpaper border.

People, I am not a saint.


Two Square Feet

>> Monday, March 15, 2010

I have been working hard on finding a way to keep this house one step ahead of the forces of Entropy and Chaos without losing my mind from boredom. With my housemates, this task is not even close to being easy.

Finally, though, I am proud to admit a secret I have been keeping. I have a system that allows me to recover from the most viscious of Entropy attacks in a much shorter time, without completely losing my mind. I call it the "Two Square Feet" method, and I have successfully used it for the past six months.

Now, at the risk of boring you to tears, let me give you a brief explanation. Don't worry, I won't bother to give you all the little rules I've invented to help keep myself entertained and motivated. I do like you to come back, you know. I will just give you the basics. For the most part, I start in one specific spot in the house and radiate my cleaning outward. I find a much greater sense of accomplishment when my "neat and clean" sections of the house are all contiguous. That way, if I turn one way, I see clean counters and floors, with no clutter, as far as my eyes can travel. Of course, I pointedly ignore the mountain of crap stacked immediately behind me. The mountain doesn't matter, just the oasis in front of me.

The game, in essence, is that I try to reclaim an extra two square feet to this contiguous space every week or so. If I do, I'm winning. If I can't hold the borders and have to retreat, then Entropy is winning. In the worst case, I know I will always be able to retreat to my starting point and begin again. I know that no one, not even Entropy, will ever get my starting point away from me. First of all, the floor of my starting point contains the cat food dishes. No one in their right mind will ever allow mess to come between my cats and their food, so I will always keep that clean for peace in our time. Second, the countertop immediately above the cat food dishes contains my one-cup coffee maker. Even I am not brave enough to come between myself and my coffee machine, and no one else in the house is either. So, if all else fails, I have two square feet of space in my house that is perpetually mine, with no one else's misplaced junk. It's just me, the cat food, and the coffee. You will find me standing there if there is an earthquake. (I guess it is a good thing that it's basically under an interior doorway too, right?)

On my best frontal assaults, I can claim my kitchen, my entranceway, my living room, the stairs, the downstairs bathroom, and a small portion of the family room. (The family room is where the toys are, so a small portion of it is a huge success.) On my worst days, I'm standing next to the coffee pot, afraid to move, looking at the giant "honey-do" pile that lives right next door to the coffee pot. Those are scary days.

Right now, I am optimistically trying to plan where I will reclaim my next 2 square feet. I could try to push further into the family room, but with all the toys, that could mean a huge burden on my daily rounds. I could try to head out into the dining room, but the only reason the entranceway is clean is because I moved the loose photo collection into the dining room, and I'm not ready to tackle that pile yet.

Warily, I am thinking I might have to tackle the hardest room of all next ... the laundry room. What is so hard about the laundry room? Well, in this house the laundry room is also known as the cat's toilet, and Darling Husband's "work storage." I resent that, because he has an entire bench out in the garage, but he took advantage of my height and got to all the shelves before I found a chair, and it has been that way since we moved in.

Let me put it this way. We once tried making our own candles (and by "we" I mean "he"), and I lost a perfectly good double handled pot in the experience. I last saw it on the top shelf. Then there is all the failed pet products, some broken toys waiting an eternity to be repaired, and a few dozen paper bags shoved next to the wall beside a few dozen more "work towels" and other various "project" paraphenalia.

Cleaning this room could either be a bonanza for the garage sale and the garbage man, or it could be a complete and utter disaster from which I may never recover.

I wish I knew which.

I'd actually contemplate chickening out, but then my only choices would be our bedroom or the basement.

Yeah. Not a good choice at all.


The Survival Clause of the Marriage Contract

>> Friday, March 12, 2010

One of the trickiest things I am finding about being a blogger is how much can I out my friends and family before they get offended. You might tell me that I should write how I feel and (insert your expletive of choice) my family and friends, but you don't have sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table with them, and you don't need them to babysit. I do. So, I really do not want to offend. I love these people. (Well, most of them, at least.)

I have a few guidelines I use:

1. If the person is dead, the worst they can do is haunt me from the grave, and I'm willing to take that risk. So far, so good.

2. I can write whatever I want to about Toddler until he is old enough to read. Then I will find a way to make a new rule.

3. If the person can't remember doing it (e.g., alcohol), it's their own fault and they are fair game. After all, how can they be upset if they don't know I'm talking about them?

With those guidelines, I can usually filter what I can write about and what I should keep to myself. Trying to apply these rules to my Darling Husband sometimes is difficult, though. Let's take things that happen after we go to bed. (Oh, please! Your momma would wash your brain out with lye soap for thinking that! Step back away from the gutter. Back ... back ... further back. Now stay there and don't move.)

Darling Husband is one of those people who can sleep anywhere, at anytime. He can function to a small degree when completely unconscious and remembers nothing about it mere moments later. So, on the theory that he doesn't remember it, I should be able to tell you, right? On the other hand, it's hard to disguise that I'm talking about Darling Husband. I mean, you would think I've totally gone off the deep end if I started telling you about this random friend of whose sleeping habits I am intimately aware ... or you'd begin to wonder about what I'm doing with my nights, right? (Although I will take this sentence to note that I actually DO have a friend who sleeps so hard he cannot be woken up without a sonic boom. I know this because he fell asleep on my couch once. And his wife told me, too.)

So, here is the story. If I get in trouble for telling it, I hope one of you will open up your homes and take me in.

The other night I woke up in the dark to a splitting headache. I didn't go to bed with a headache, but there it was, waking me out of a sound sleep. The pain was in my frontal lobe area, right above my ocular interface. You know -- my forehead. Now, when I go to bed, usually the circumstances have to be pretty dire before I am willing to get back up. If I could, trust me, I would pay for someone else to go to the bathroom for me so I could stay in bed. You will understand, then, what I must have been feeling to stagger out of bed and find some pain killers. After finding and carefully identifying said pills through the pain, I staggered back to bed, fell asleep again, and woke up to no change. My head still hurt, only this time, it was worse, and I was feeling a tad queasy. Middle of the night migraine? I didn't even care, just MAKE IT STOP!

By this point I was afraid to move far, much less leave the bed, so I reached my hand out and tapped Darling Husband. "Honey, I need help. My head really, really hurts. Can you help me?"

"Sure," he mumbled and promptly began scratching my back. Darn it, he wasn't awake. He was in that survival state of semi-conciousness that some people develop to deal with the people who want to talk to them while they are sleeping. "Honey!"

"What? I'm helping!"

"Darling, how on earth does scratching my back help with my headache?" (Not that I mind a good back scratch -- let's not be mistaken about that!)

"What headache?"

Finally I woke him up enough to help me figure out what other medicines I could take without interfering with what I already took, and he went and got them for me, along with a drink. What a nice man he is. (That is what my grandmother used to say. "What a nice man." She said that all 6 times she met him. Sadly, she never remembered any of the prior times, but at least each time she thought he was a very nice man. Now ... if she comes back to haunt me, I'll let you know.)

Once Darling Husband is actually fully awake, he is all the clarity and help anyone could ever ask for. Figuring out that he is talking in his sleep is always the challenge. My clues usually come from the nonsensical responses. "Honey, did you hear that? Do you think Toddler is okay?" "I'm sure the cats are downstairs," he might say. That's a clue. Did you catch it?

So, you tell me. Is it fair game to tell this kind of story? I guess I will let you know that, too.


Carrying Clean Too Far? Gadget Attack!

>> Thursday, March 11, 2010

Those of you that have been reading this blog for awhile probably know that from time to time I pick a product and ... well ... pick on it. I've written about sheets, my car's bluetooth, shower curtains, tablecloths, Wii-Fit (a game I really do enjoy), fancy cat food dishes, coffee mugs, GPS devices, condiments, superglue, DVRs, and a whole bunch of stuff in my first "Why?" post. In fact, there are probably more that I can't even remember. (Wow that was a long list.)

Today, I will be taking my potshots at that new hands-free soap dispenser thingy being sold for use in the home. The general idea is that this gadget is a refillable soap dispenser that dispenses soap through the use of motion sensor technology. In theory, you place your hands under the spout, and out comes a perfectly portioned glob (or foam dump) of soap for your hands. I am not even going to discuss how it will probably actually work in your home. Just think back to some of those motion-sensor sinks in new-fangled bathrooms and the people waving their arms wildly around trying to turn the water on and you will get your own idea. Let's just hope it stops when you walk away, that's all I'm going to say.

You probably have run into these nifty soap gadgets in newly remodeled airport or restaurant bathrooms where the toilet also flushes for you and paper towels emerge when you wave your hand near the pretty red light on the paper towel machine.

The idea is that you should not have to touch a "germy" soap dispenser. Your precious hands should not have to be exposed to that kind of risk.

I had to think about this for awhile. I really have been wondering for at least a few weeks whether I am missing the point.

Now, I can see some merit to the argument (albeit barely) in a public restroom. The whole idea, so we are trained to think, is to get in and out by touching as little as possible. To a limited degree I can understand this approach. Despite the faded signs on the door telling us that the store cleans the bathroom every so many hours, we don't really know when they did it or how well they did it. I mean, let's face it. I was once one of those "bathroom cleaners" when I was a young lass of 18 or so, and I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I'm sure some places do a very good job (the pay toilets under the Eiffel Tower come to mind), but my point is that you can't be sure unless you see the cleaning being done. "Experts" (whoever they are) even advise us to open the door with a paper towel so as to avoid contaminating our "clean hands". Of course, for my opinions on this approach and how a concerned citizen must choose between the Earth and the Pandemic, see here.

On a related note, the more automated the system, the more "cool" it is, and some of those bathrooms do everything except open the door for us and hand us toilet paper. Why not automatic soap dispensers? Certainly it can help cut down on excessive pumping and that puddle of excess soap that seems to be on every sink that does not have an automatic dispenser.

So, yes, for a public restroom, or a fancy bathroom, I can see the appeal.

But at home?

The advertised idea is that no one should have to touch that dirty soap pump and get all those germs.

Umm, wait a minute. Don't you touch those germs immediately BEFORE you wash your hands? Aren't those hypothetical germs washed away right then? And, seriously, if you are worried enough about germs to think that you need to get this soap dispenser, do you also have to have automatic flushes for the toilet so you don't get those germs before you wash too? Or how about faucets so you don't touch the handles (before or after you wash)? Or how about an automatic door so that your squeaky clean hands don't touch the yucky doorknob?

I guess I just don't see how an automatic soap dispenser really helps. Now, if you think such a gadget is cool, or if you are otherwise decorating in advanced automata, then fine. I don't exactly agree with you, but okay. It's a choice. I choose to wipe the handles and doorknobs a lot with cleaning wipes, but whatever. You probably wouldn't like my decorating style either.


Top of the Morning to You All

>> Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I have recently noticed a very distinct pattern to our morning wake-up routine here in this house. Each weekday is pretty much alike, and each weekend is pretty much alike, and the two of them are different really only in the way that Darling Husband and I choose to deal with the other creatures in the house.

Let me break down this morning for you and see if any of it seems at all familiar to anyone.

Sometime between 6 AM and 6:30 AM, Big Black Cat marches up from the foot of the bed and curls up next to my stomach to begin purring. When the rumbling sufficiently rouses me, I reach my arm over and shove him back to where he belongs and roll over onto my back. He retreats for a few moments, then regroups, by walking up my leg to my stomach, where he sniffs my face to see if I am awake. I pretend I am not, and Big Black Cat shifts his weight to lay down on my stomach, purring loudly while he stares at my face to look for any signs of consciousness. I tolerate this constriction of my rib cage expansion capacity for about a minute, and then I roll over again and shove Big Black Cat back to the foot of the bed ... again.

Big Black Cat retreats again for a but a moment, only to try the same project with Darling Husband. The cat walks up to the husband and begins sniffing Darling Husband's face to see if he is awake yet. Then, finding that Darling Husband is unresponsive, plops himself on Darling Husband to wait for the wake up call. The difference between me and Darling Husband is that Darling Husband often sleeps on his side, so Big Black Cat balances himself carefully on Darling Husband's side to wait. Unlike me, however, Darling Husband sleeps soundly enough that he does not notice the extra 15 or so pounds compressing his rib cage, and he snores slumbers on.

Then if we are talking about a Saturday or Sunday, this is about the time when Toddler wakes up, hits his music toy, and yells, "ME NEED GO POTTY!" If this sound is not enough to wake Darling Husband, me smacking him on the shoulder is usually sufficient. Either way, the moment Darling Husband does wake up, he begins to roll over, at which time Big Black Cat begins to feel slightly concerned and immediately extends claws. All gradual wakeup routines immediately cease with the sound of Darling Husband yowling at Big Black Cat to "GET OFF AND TAKE YOUR CLAWS WITH YOU." Darling Husband then tosses Big Black Cat to the foot of the bed (for the third time, if you are counting). Girl Cat views all the commotion as her personal invitation and leaps up to come lick Darling Husband's mustache and "make bread" on his shoulder with her tail near my head. If he refuses to allow this, she simply turns around and tries again on my shoulder. No matter what happens, one of us ends up with a furry cat tail in our face.

In the meantime, Toddler has been yelling, "ME NEED GO POTTY FOR REAL, DADDY, MOMMY!" while Houdini has been silently sneaking further and further up the bed so he can sandwich himself in between us to steal any mis-timed pets without risking getting slapped by Girl Cat.

Yes. This happens every morning.

Every. Morning.

One or the other of us (whomever is bleeding less from cat claws at this point) will usually go to get Toddler, take him to the potty, and send him back to bed. Toddler will often go back to bed (but often not), but nowhere does he concede that he will sleep again, no matter how often we say, "It isn't time to get up yet."

Eventually, Toddler will decide that it absolutely is time to get up and/or he has to go potty again, and his conversation is usually puncuated by the sound of his doorknob turning. Next we see Toddler's head poking into our room with the high pitched chirp, "HI, MOMMY, DADDY! ARE YOU STILL SLEEPING?"

We usually admit to being awake because we fear the alternative. Once we pretended to be asleep to see what he would do. We caught up to him in the kitchen trying to turn on the light so he could get a glass of milk.

What are your mornings like?


The Painting Rules

>> Tuesday, March 9, 2010

From time to time, over the course of my entire life, my household gets the brilliant idea to paint the inside of the house.

As I mentioned recently, we found ourselves in a situation where we needed to do an "emergency" painting of a bedroom on little notice. (Thank heavens for my mother, that's all I have to say about that.) During the course of this recent painting mass scramble, we decided the time has finally come to write down the most important rules of painting we have accumulated over the years.

First, we all agree that if God had meant mankind to be a painting species, we would all have been born with 8 foot long arms and a paint bucket stabilizer at our waistline.

Nonetheless, if you take these lessons to heart, even you will survive painting your entire house.

1. Paint is magnetically attracted to any spot on the floor that is not covered, no matter how microscopic. We strongly suspect there is a law of goofy-quark behavior involved.

2. Even in the most cramped and hard to see places, it is never a good idea to just stick the paint brush in and brush wildly about.

3. If you have the urge to paint randomly with a brush, remember the Karate Kid. He learned karate by painting. You can learn to paint by watching that movie.

Pets and paint can be very entertaining if you remember to have the right attitude, as evidenced by the following rules.

4. If paint is unable to find an uncovered spot on the floor to adhere to, it will attempt to use a small furry creature if one is passing by.

A few years back, Girl Cat came out of hiding to say hello to my mother in law while my father in law was painting our dining room ceiling. The only paint that fell from his brush that entire day was while Girl Cat was walking right below him. She promptly took said paint offering and ran it around the entire house, pausing to shake at least once in every room before being cornered for a bath.

5. Black, short-haired cats who shed very little can use their foreheads as paint brushes if they so choose.

Big Black Cat once watched Darling Husband for nearly an hour while Darling Husband was painting a wall sky blue. After we packed everything away and waited for the paint to dry, Big Black Cat marched out into the other room with a nice spot of blue paint on his forehead. We never did find where on the wall he bumped, so we concluded that his fur was sufficiently like a brush to not matter.

6. Orange cats that shed a lot should never be allowed near wet, damp, or even freshly washed painted walls. (I suspect this one is self-explanatory.)

7. There are places even the best ladders cannot go. Please accept this fact gracefully and move on.

8. Painting is more entertaining if you embrace the mess.

9. Books on CD/IPOD are helpful because they are quiet enough to talk over, but they do provide a distraction. A good tip is to try to remember to load up enough CDs so you don't have to change them with painty fingers.

10. Always check your socks and your posterior before leaving the painting environment.

11. Never answer the front door on painting day. No good can come of this.

12. Resist the urge to paint other people, even in jest, no matter how long you have been painting that day. No good can come of this either.

13. Understand that no painting job is complete without at least a sanding job, an electrical rewiring, or a major caulking.

14. No matter what the end result, you should feel free to blame any issues on the prior owners or the builders and their poor workmanship.

15. Each major repair has its own vocabulary. If you hear, "Well isn't that stupid," chances are you are overhearing an electrical problem. If you hear, "Oh, shoot," something has probably gone wrong with the paint. More strong words are often interchangeable.

16. The words, "Oh, woops!" or "Woopsie!" or "Uh oh," are never a good sign.

17. The most adventursome painters really need to add a toddler for full effect.

If you keep these simple rules in mind, your painting experience will be much more fulfilling.


And It Will Be The Perfect Storm After All

>> Monday, March 8, 2010

Man, that Entropy dude knows his stuff. Either he is the most phenomonal planner this side of anywhere, or he is a tremendously gifted opportunist.

Last Monday I mentioned that I thought Entropy was setting us up for the perfect storm with all the things that were going on. Specifically, I have been concerned that with all the travel one or the other of us is doing the next several weekends, would we be able to get the spare bedroom painted and ready for the new furniture that was due to arrive in 6-8 weeks? Given that we have a series of sentimental "collections" to remove from the closet and various other spaces in the room, this could be a dicey adventure. Six to eight weeks of evenings and weekends can go by pretty quickly, and believe me, I was not going to try to paint a room on my own with only Toddler for help. Noooo. Even I am not that disillusioned into thinking it would actually work.

So, I very carefully began undoing the pieces of the collections I was allowed to touch -- specifically the Harry Potter playsets and Lego kits. My job was to clean them, box them in the original box (of course), with as many of the original pieces as I could identify from the pile of miscellaneous pieces on the dresser. As you can imagine, I had a big suspicion this project could take a long, long, possibly very long, time.

I found the directions for one of the big Lego playsets and tried, often frustratingly, to disassemble the set in reverse order, attempting valiantly to identify any missing pieces. Only after I was completely done did I realize that the pile of extra Lego pieces that was stuck in a plastic bag on the bookshelf ALL went to this one set I was working on. In fact, there was only one Lego set even out of the box at all. There was no reason for me to take all this time, and I could have just shoved all the pieces into one plastic box. Well ... nuts.

That was one hour down.

In the meantime, lots of junk was growing on my floor. Not to worry, I thought to myself, there is always tomorrow. We have lots of time ... well, I know I can't keep saying this ... but still, this is only the first day.

Then I got the phonecall from the furniture store. "Guess what! Good news! We managed to squeeze all your furniture onto last night's truck, and it's HERE! When can we schedule a delivery?"

Holy cow! We don't even have the PAINT YET!

Well, long story short, I persuaded the furniture store to hold the bedroom stuff for one week ... which means that Darling Husband and I had one week, minus most of a weekend, to get an entire room cleaned out, collections and all, and painted. With Toddler's "help". Yes. Let's not forget that.

The perfect storm indeed!

Thankfully, my mother decided to come down and bail us out, offering to help watch Toddler while we worked. Instead I managed to get her to paint a lot alongside us while we all hollered, "Toddler back up!" (It worked all times but one, and that one time led to a set of white back pockets and a white shirt belonging to Toddler. Formerly these items of clothing were tan and blue. If you find yourself in this situation, I highly recommend very warm running water immediately applied.)

As of the time I am writing this, we are two days into what will be a three-day job, with a Toddler who desperately wants to help. He even went to far as to pick up a paint brush and run it over a piece of the closet door when we weren't looking, all the while saying, "Toddler paint!"

Just to top everything off, Toddler decided he wanted to show off all his potty skills to my mother. Every few minutes, he wanted someone to come out and help him because, as he said, "ME NEED GO POTTY!" Of course, when he tried to convince us that he was big enough to leave the diaper behind ... he wasn't. Of course. When we are all covered in paint he is covered in ... well ... it wasn't paint.

The good news is that the room will be all done in record time. The bad news is that the rest of the house is falling apart in the meantime. Entropy has done his job well.

On the bright side, this unexpected experience has brought us the following scene to chuckle about:

ME: Mom, we're heading your way.
MY MOM: Okay.
TODDLER: No! That's not Mom. That's Grandma!


Just Shake Your Head and Walk Away

>> Friday, March 5, 2010

Today is one of those days where I'm having a hard time finding the humor. I should have a huge sign on my head that says, "Stand Back. You Have Been Warned." I have to be very careful when writing this blog on a day like today, because I risk moving from funny to caustic as I come perilously close to telling you what I REALLY think about what is going on around me.

So, on a day like today, I offer a compromise. Below is a list of some things people have said to me in the past year that make me count to 10 before I'm even allowed to open my mouth lest I try to do something really dumb like argue or try to use logic. As I think you can see, arguing with some people is absolutely useless.

Here is what I heard:

1. Well, no, I didn't take the trash out for garbage day because there was still room in the bag for more garbage.

2. I don't take my bags to the grocery store because they only give me five cents off a bag. I'd rather use a twenty cent coupon instead of my four bags.

3. No, I don't think we have gluten free pasta, but I can offer you whole wheat pasta. Will that do?

4. Me: For a few months I'm not allowed to have any "diet" stuff with artificial sweetners or anything like that. My Friend: Can you have a diet gingerale?

5. Me: I don't have any time off for your "free" vacation. Vacation Solicitor: How about if I cut the price?

6. I can't bear to throw these things out or sell them, so I'm giving them to you.

7. I just bought these t-shirts in your mall while visiting you and I decided I don't want them after all, so I'm going to leave them here with you, okay?

8. Yes, we are having group preschool tours for parents. No, child care is not provided.

9. I just drove this plant the entire way across the country from my old apartment to yours, but it won't fit in my car for the last 400 miles of my trip to my new place, so I'll give it to you. I know you'll take good care of it.

10. I am fanatic about clean hands. I don't like bar soap because someone else can touch it. I don't think softsoap really works, and I don't think hand sanitzer really works either.

11. Restaurant employee: You are allergic to dairy? Me: Yes. I can't have dairy. Restaurant employee: What about Velveeta and sour cream?

12. My Friend: I'm so glad you came across two states and had time to visit with me. I think about you often and wish I could see more of you. Me: Well maybe if you are taking a vacation over our way we can connect? It's a lot of fun! My Friend: Or you could just come back and see us. We live right off the turnpike, you know.

Now, I have paraphrased some of the conversations to make them slightly less identifiable, but I think you get the general idea. ::shake head, walk away::


Missing Pieces

>> Thursday, March 4, 2010

Around about a month ago, my friends at The Crazy Hip Bloggers suggested the writing topic, "Missing Pieces." Specifically, they said, "We all have missing pieces in our lives. Things we have lost. Things we have yet to gain. Frames of mind we have yet to set! We want to hear all about YOUR missing pieces!"

Well, I have to say that the first thing I was missing was the topic for this article. I wasn't looking on the right place in the website, and I thought we didn't have a topic, so I freelanced. I could make some snarky remark about how the upcoming post topics might best serve their purpose if they are in the sidebar labeled, "Upcoming Topics," but I won't. (You may think I just did, but I didn't.) You see, I wouldn't say such a thing because 1 - I don't want to lose my membership title as a "Crazy Hip Blogger" and 2 - I know the people managing the site have small children, and more than one of them. Under those circumstances, they have fulfilled their obligations to get the topics up in a timely manner, regardless of where on the website they may be. The rest of the responsibility most emphatically belongs to the bloggers, because, as you will see in the rest of this post, I could do no better and probably would do a whole lot worse.

For me, missing pieces is a very literal topic. I'm missing the mates to a lot of socks, a few mittens/gloves, and lots of toys. I have outgrown toys hiding in my room, waiting to be moved to the attic, but they have been lingering there for a few months hoping to be reunited with their missing pieces.

For Christmas, Santa Claus brought Toddler a matching game with 66 pieces. I think I know where 64 are, after diligently counting them every time I put them away. I don't even want to talk about the crazy relative that sent the puzzle. (Thank you, by the way.) The toy car playset for three-year olds comes with removable pieces less than an inch tall. Actually, "removable" is really not accurate. "Hard to put in and easy to fall out" would be a better description. One of them was a little, teeny, tiny, very small, smaller than my pinky, stick figure of "Toodles" from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. "Toodles" is Toddler's new favorite character. He asks me for it daily. My answer, sadly, is,"Toodles is wherever you dropped him last month when we first lost him. I haven't found that place yet."

We also have one of those "busy gears" toys, with all the different color gears to put on, and take off, and stack up ... and lose. All I have to say about the gear toy is this: Thank you to whichever parent donated your collection of mis-mated gears to the local thriftshop. I needed them.

Letter toys -- why yes, my alphabet is regularly missing letters like, "Z"and "U". I think we might find them when we move. Maybe not. Too bad the letters didn't come with a storage box -- preferably one that is attached to the rest of the toys.

Generally, I would have to say the biggest missing pieces we have around this house is the other half of the tupperware and the other half of pairs of socks (as I mentioned above), but to my utter astonishment, every sock I put into this weeks laundry came out the other end to be with its mate. They socks didn't necessarily come out with the same load they went in with, but nonetheless they all appeared at the end of the day. I am so astounded by this fact that I am wondering what my long-standing nemesis Entropy and Chaos are doing. I think this might be more to the "Perfect Storm" I think is brewing.


I Beg Your Pardon?

>> Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I have been having a little bit of trouble this past week in figuring out exactly what people are saying to me. I can hear them just fine, but for some reason, either the world has turned very ambiguous recently, I have been overly obtuse, or people have been saying odd things to me.

Let me share. (Please, please, let me share.)

First, I have this friend/family member who reads my blog about once every month or so, and catches up on all the missing posts. While she does this, she sends little email "missives" to me about her comments to what she is reading. Unfortunately, she usually fails to tell me what she is reading. Sometimes I can get it from context, and other times I will get something that seems very random and I will need to call for an explanation.

The other day she sent me a message that said, in essence, "My husband can check your grammar."

I'm thinking ... okay ... did I use bad grammar? Am I prone to it? (Oh, say it isn't so!) Why would she volunteer her spouse to check my grammar? Or ... is this a joke? Check my grammar as in "body check it into the wall" like in hockey? Or something? I have no idea.

Belatedly, I figured out that she was probably referring to this post where I mentioned that no one had yet had the wisdom to accept my unpaid job opening as proofreader, and she was offering her spouse as a sacrificial offering of some sort, almost certainly without asking him first. I wonder what her spouse would have said if I had accepted? That could have been soooo awkward. These offerings of our spouses to other people often work that way. You know, "My wife will be happy to have the kids over. No problem. What's another 3 or so children around the house, right?" Or "my husband will be THRILLED to redo the siding on your house. I mean, he did ours about 10 years ago. It only took two days, and we only had to redo a small part after the storm ...."

Then there was the woman we met outside the chinese restaurant after the buffet. She followed us out the door and said (in reference to Toddler), "Wow, someone must have a lot of patience with this little guy. He talks so well!"

I'm thinking, is that a compliment on his speaking ability, or a critique that he narrated his entire lunch? Even now I'm still not sure what she meant by that. She either thinks my child is wise beyond his years, or her lunch really sucked. I'm not sure I really care, though.

And then there is Toddler. Figuring out exactly what he is saying can be hard enough. For example, one night I was walking up the stairs with DH was giving Toddler a bath. I could have sworn I heard Toddler say, "I drink the water!" To which DH responded, "Oh, you are smelling lilacs? How nice."

Once we have the words down, figuring out what he means by what he is saying is sometimes impossible. The other day he came marching (literally, marching) into the kitchen, folded his arms across his chest, looked very sternly at us, and said, "I said STOP!"

Why so you did. Stop what? After about 3 days of this, we figured out he meant DH should stop hugging me. As soon as we figured that out, he began to tell us to "Stop eating!" and "Stop singing!" and "Stop 'puter!" I don't know about you, but I think this is an unfortunate thing for my child to be saying. I much prefer when he tried to tell me about "SuperGoof" on TV and accidentally called me "Supermom". I've been trying to bribe him to do it again, but he keeps saying, "noooooo!" I also much prefer when he randomly looks at me and says, "Good job, mommy!"

Now, this last part has nothing really to do with talking, but I have to include it anyway. As you may recall, Toddler had a brief but eventful fling with a girl in his music class whose mother apparently disapproves of me, or him, or both. (See story here.) I am rather intrigued to tell you that she was the underdog mom today in class for accidentally stepping on the fingers of a crawling child. While I feel bad for the child whose fingers were pinched (and who proceeded to bawl for quite some time), I felt a little bit vindicated. I'm ostracized for forgetting your kid's name, but you STEP ON CHILDREN.

Ok. I feel better now.


God Kicked Me Out of Church Last Sunday....

>> Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So, the whole mess started last Sunday when the nursery pager buzzed me during the very beginning of the church service....

Wait. Maybe not.

You see, I have to admit I was in a rotten mood, and I wasn't paying all that much attention to the service. We hadn't even gotten to the sermon yet, and I was taking mental notes for my blog, I forgot to stand up when I was supposed to, and I freely admit to mouthing the words to the hymn because I couldn't figure out the tune. I find reading music I've never seen, singing it, and remembering which verse we are on and getting the right words to be a bit of a stretch of my musical talents. Standing next to Darling Husband, who sings quite enthusiastically with complete disregard for key and pitch makes it all the harder. I wish I had his devil-may-care (or I guess that's "heaven may care, right?") attitude and just "sang out." Unless I have a good pitch-person behind me feeding me the notes, though, I am meek and mild on songs I do not know. You see, my mother told me if I couldn't sing the right note, I shouldn't sing at all. In our house, this was the corollary to "If you can't say anything nice...."

So, with all that being said, the story probably starts with, "I wasn't really paying attention in church last Sunday." I was grumpy, we had a lot of unpleasant chores to do, and my cleaning lady just quit so I am concerned that if I don't buy a toilet brush we may all die of some vile disease of the commode. (Ok, that's not true either. I do clean bathrooms, but I do admit to leaving it up to the cleaning lady whenever possible. Wouldn't you?)

I was also thinking, as I sat there, that with the way this past week played out (as I described yesterday in detail), Entropy and Chaos might be massing for the biggest assult on my home we have seen since I brought a NICU baby home to a house without a kitchen.

Anyway, when it came down to it, God was not amused with me. Or, just maybe, he was quite amused by me and thought that was not really appropriate. Either way, the pager from the nursery went off less than 10 minutes into the service -- the first time it had gone off in almost a year. Darling Husband and I look at each other with a bit of alarm. This could not be good news. Toddler LOVES the church nursery. In fact, he runs inside, starts to play, then turns around, comes back to us, and pushes us out the door saying, "Bye, mommy, daddy. Bye." I guess we cramp his playing style or something. Then again, last weekend he came out of the nursery wearing a valentine from another girl-toddler, so maybe there is more to it then that. Whatever the reason, he wants to be there and loves it ... so what could be the page?

Like any reasonable parent, I grabbed the pager and jogged down the stairs. (If you haven't done this, it is an interesting experience, jogging down stairs.) All the while, I'm thinking about the time he was outside last summer with the nursery crowd and ran in front of a moving child on a swing and ended up flat on his back. What would the trouble be today? Bloody nose? Puking? Pulling a shelf of toys down on himself?

I walked in to the nursery, and he looked fine. The caregiver came over and said something like this: "Well, Toddler said he had to go poop, so I took him to the potty. He didn't have to go poop, but apparently he did have to pee. We had a bit of an accident because ... well ... his pee pee was pointing the wrong ... well, you know. And, you see, we didn't find any change of clothes in the bag. We thought he could just wait, but he keeps saying, he's 'all wet'. And ... well ... he is. We were hoping you had some pants in the car or something."

I just stood there, not sure whether to laugh or hang my head in shame because I failed to pack an extra pair of pants. What kind of mother am I not to pack extra clothes? Well, to be fair, I'm the mother of a child in diapers who never asks to go to the potty when he is outside the house, and never, ever, asks to poop in the potty. I am also the mother of a child that stopped throwing up a year ago, and I was enjoying the fact that I didn't really need to carry two changes of clothes everywhere I went.

I forgot for awhile that I am also the mother of a 2.5 year old BOY CHILD who loves dirt, forgets to point the right way in the potty, and remains totally unpredictable. I have now put a pair of sweatpants in the trunk of the car.

Of course, I had to check out the pants for myself, because everyone was standing there, staring at me, like perhaps I had some magic pants-drying wand or something.

Nope. No wand. No clue what I am supposed to do.

Nonetheless, I feel the pants. Um -- wet? These things were soaked from top to bottom, front to back, all across the left leg. This was no minor pants-wetting. This was a fire hose on high.

Of course, I was thinking, "HEY COOL! He was obviously holding it for the potty!" What I said was, "Right. This is not good. I'll get DH and we'll just take him home. Thanks so much, and we'll be right back."

So, less than fifteen mintues into the church service, and Darling Husband and I are gathering our coats and trying to "sneak" from the second row pew out the side door. No luck because the deacon is standing right there. No sneaking allowed. All exits must be bold and forthright. Yet, what do I say to this man with the concerned look? "Um, Toddler is having a really bad day, so we need to leave. No, no ... nothing is wrong ... exactly ... we'll just see you next week."

Right. That was ... inconspicuous.

In the end, I can honestly say it took us longer to find a place to park last Sunday than we were actually in the building. I guess the fact that the parking garage wasn't open and there were no un-snowed spots wasn't enough of a clue to us that God wanted the day off from our unfocused and irreverant attendance (or at least mine).

I knew I should have slept in and sent the boys off on their own.


The Calm Before the Perfect Storm?

>> Monday, March 1, 2010

Once upon a time, before I was a blogger, and before I was a mother, I was a lawyer. (Okay, I technically still am one, but that's hard to write poetically.) In general, I had more money than I had time. Now that I'm not practicing, I still often don't have time, and now I don't have any money, either. But I digress. Back in those days, Entropy was pretty much winning the war hands down. Basically, it wasn't even a fight. We were lucky to escape each day with our lives, and each weekend was a fight to get the basics done, like laundry and just enough cleaning that we didn't drown in our own stuff. I needed help.

So, one day I hired this sweet woman to help me. She would come by two times a month, clean the whole house so we wouldn't die of the plague, I'd keep doing the laundry, and she was a bargain to boot. This was a match made in heaven because, as you know, you can't have a cleaning lady come into a house that looks like it needs a cleaning lady. (Erma Bombeck said that. She was right.) She was the impetus to help us keep fighting the forces of Entropy and Chaos. If we didn't work at least once every other week to clean everything up before she arrived, she wouldn't be able to find the floor with the vacuum cleaner.

Even better, we had wonderful communication. She spoke only Spanish, and I spoke no Spanish whatsoever. Well, that isn't exactly true. Thanks to 7 years of studying Spanish from Junior High through College (and later, the Handy Manny years), I learned how to say such useful phrases as: "Hello, how are you. My name is Flicker," "I am American," "Where is the metro?" "I would like a cup of coffee, please," "Where is the bathroom?" "How much does it cost?" "No cheese, please," and "I don't like vegetables." For the most part, none of these phrases were at all useful in day to day conversation with a cleaning lady.

Despite these challenges, we got along famously. She even vacuumed my fireplace, and when she didn't like my vacuum cleaner, she brought her own. From time to time, she failed to dust all of the cobwebs, but this was largely because she was very short, and sometimes she forgot to look up high enough. Still ... she was tremendous. From her I learned to say, "You have a lot of cat hair in your house," in Spanish.

Then, along came Toddler. The cleaning lady told me a very long story about her child who was born with breathing difficulties. It was a lovely dialogue. At least, I think that is what she was trying to tell me. I understood the words, "baby" and "hospital" and she pantomimed something that looked a lot like breathing stuff to me, and the story ended with, "Everything is just fine." My part of the story was to nod and smile and repeat back the words I understood. Eh, maybe she was talking about a friend, or a traffic accident she saw at the market last week ... but I'm pretty sure she was talking about a baby in the hospital who couldn't breathe. Either way, she adopted us on an emotional level. When Toddler came home, she walked in one day, took the laundry out of my hands, and simply added it to her list of things to do.

Then, I left my job, and I had to tell her we couldn't pay her. I asked if she could come once a month instead. You'll think I'm kidding when I say she refused to be laid off, even part time. She insisted on coming twice a month for half the pay. I was so confused by this conversation that she went to get an interpreter. Her reason was simple. "Hay mucho pelo de gato y necesita mucho ayuda para el bambino." (You have a lot of cat hair and you need a lot of help for the baby.) Well! How embarrasing! I didn't think the cat hair was that bad ... at least not since we got the vacuum cleaner working. Maybe she was afraid of what might happen if she left. Maybe she just wanted to help. Either way, I was unable to lay her off. She simply refused and kept coming to work.

Not too long ago, she started having problems making it on any given day. As it turns out, she was having some problems with a sick relative, and she was trying to be all things to all people. Eventually, just last week, she sent her interpreter to tell me that she couldn't work anymore. On the one hand, I was relieved because not knowing when or where she might come by made things like going to the bathroom with a Toddler a bit nerve wracking. What if he opened the door on me just as she was about to walk in the house? Plus, in the past many weeks, Toddler spent most of her cleaning days walking around following her, getting in her way, and trying to "sweep" just like her.

On the other hand she had been missing for about 6 weeks, during which I kept up with everything in anticipation of the idea that she might walk in any day, and I didn't want her to see a disaster. So, yes, I did it. I managed without her ... mostly. I did let 2 of the 3 bathrooms go more than she would have approved, but I got most of the rest of the stuff.

Now, I feel like Entropy is gearing up for a major assault. My backup is gone. I used to know that if I fell down on the job, eventually she would be there to dig us out and give us a nice good dose of sanitation. Will I keep up knowing that I don't have to look like I don't need her? It's kind of like doing Weight Watchers by yourself. If there is no giant scale with a success story holding a clip board taking your numbers every week, will you really be faithful to the plan?

Even worse, my Mother called with some advice that made me think she might be working for Entropy. Then again, she might be working for my sanity. Sometimes I have a hard time telling the difference. She called to tell me that because she is the cause of my old-fashioned floor cleaning obsession, she was going to help me find my way back out. At that moment Toddler threw food at me, which landed on the floor. As I bent to pick it up, I saw a whole pile of dirt and sighed that I was obviously going to have to wipe the floor today. Here is what she said. "The key to survival is to bend over, and pick up the thrown food with your eyes closed. That way you never see any of the other pieces, and you won't have to scrub your floor between scheduled cleanings."

This speech does not sound like the same woman who used to clean tar marks from the linoleum by scraping them with her fingernails daily.

I'm deeply concerned. Was this really my mother, trying to help me find a way to keep going without my backstop? Or was this really Entropy in disguise, trying to take over my house within the next few weeks?

Even worse, we were presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase bedroom furniture for Toddler's new room. It will arrive in 8 weeks, ready to be assembled and installed. Once assembled, it likely will never move again, which means we have exactly 8 weeks to strip the room, repaint it, remount the light switches, and replace the overhead lamp. In the meantime, we have also arranged for one of the two of us to be out of town 4 of these 8 Saturdays.

In the meantime, we are still waiting to be able to deal with some of the aftermath of Blizzard 2009 and Blizzard 2010, and the windstorm in between. The storms took out a good 1/3 of our roof gutters, and they are dangling attractively in front of the windows at the rear of the house, waiting for us to repair them ... when the ground and roof dries out and it is safe to do so. Of course, I hear there is more snow on the way and the melting runoff is fast wearing away at the soil in our yard. Plus, at least one of our evergreens will probably not survive the literal weight of the storm, and I'm not so sure about the rest, which means much sawing and chopping of trees in the near future.

All of these things together make me think that Entropy absolutely has to be involved. Now that I have laid it all out, I am in great fear that we are being set up for the perfect storm of Entropy and Chaos.

Brace yourselves.


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