Dear Allergies,

>> Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Allergies,

The time has come for you and I to have a little talk.  I know you live here from time to time, and there is little I can do about it, because you made your rent deal with a landlord with more clout than me, but I think the time has come to lay some ground rules.

To begin with, as a guest in this house, we would prefer if you would let us know when you plan to arrive before you actually do.  These sudden appearances in the middle of the night, waking me up, have got to stop.  Plus, when you decide to take off for a few days, we would appreciate knowing when you will be returning.  For example, last week you disappeared for a few days.  Now, of course, where you went and what you were doing is none of my business, and I am the last one to try say you aren't allowed to go anywhere.  But, given how close we are to the holidays, you can understand how I thought you would be gone for a lot longer than 3 days.  I thought maybe you went home to see your mother, or maybe went on a holiday cruise, or went to visit some relatives, or were doing any of a number of typical holiday things.  I really didn't expect you to reappear last Saturday afternoon during the football game, bursting through the door and disrupting everything like we should have known you were coming.  Yes, we were having a little bit of a football gathering with some family, and no, I didn't have enough food for you.  I had no idea you were coming.

Second, we are becoming aware that there are some things in this house that seem to set you off, and this year is worse than most.  We would appreciate if, instead of throwing a temper tantrum, upsetting everyone's day, and making me, Bubba, and Houdini the Cat sniffle and cry, you would just tell us what is bothering you.  Maybe we can avoid the situation in the future.

Third, just because you live here does not mean you are welcome to accompany us everywhere we go.  For example, I really don't want to pay for your admission to the wine festival, and my friends and family, really are never very pleased when you show up in the car with us when we go to their house.  After all, they don't know when to buy food for you, and (I know you may find this upsetting), they think you are kinda gross.

Fourth, and possibly the most important, there are some times when you are simply not welcome, and your being here is just not acceptable.  When anyone in the house is sick, you really should just take yourself somewhere else.  Hanging around throwing fits while someone is sick is really just the height of self-centered rudeness.  This kind of attention-seeking behavior has got to stop.

Fifth, please clean up after yourself.  Of all the people that live in this house, even temporarily, you are the messiest.  You smear goop all over Toddler's face and don't help him wash it off.  You tickle Houdini and make him sneeze, without any consideration about wiping up all that stuff flying around, hardening on the walls and the cat bed.  You leave tissues all over the house.  Don't even get me started about that tuna incident with Toddler last summer.  I should not have had to do all that laundry by myself. 

And, that tuna-incident reminds me of my next concern.  If you intend to experiment with new things that used to work just fine, like tuna casserole in Toddler's stomach, I think I deserve a warning.  I mean, if we do what we always did, we expect what we always got.  If you start messing with the fundamental building blocks without letting us know, I think you are almost certainly violating some FDA regulations about experimenting on unknowing and unwilling subjects.  In any respect, it's really very poor sportsmanship.

I really don't think these ground rules are too much to ask in any house guest.  I trust you will give these items your sincere consideration, because I believe I am bending over backwards to be fair here.  I would appreciate the same consideration.




Tips On How To Be A Successful Blogger

>> Monday, November 22, 2010

(I seem to be in a bit of a "top 10" (ish) mode lately.  I know, you probably prefer a little variety, but it was either this post, or more silence for a few days, so you'll just have to deal with it, or skip on to the next blogger you like to read.  Your choice.)

After another hilarious week in the "It's All Good" House, resulting in lots of laughter and absolutely no blogging, I decided to sit down and analyze my problem.  (With blogging.  My problem with blogging.)  I used to be the blogger that posted every Monday through Friday, for nearly an entire year.  Then I went and got myself sick with that old gall bladder nastiness, had a few minor surgeries, took a trip out of the country (and here, and here), survived Bubba starting school, took a trip out of town (and here, and here), got a cold that wouldn't quit, and I've never managed to get back on the ball in quite the same way.

What the heck happened?  I lost my momentum, that is what happened.  A blogger in typing mode will tend to stay in typing mode, but a blogger on vacation ....  So, while trying to get back up on the proverbial horse, and actually stay there, I analyzed some of the biggest obstacles in achieving my blogging-momentum.  The result of all this deliberating is this list I have created for you:  my own special tips on how to be a successful blogger.  (In other words, don't do what I do if you want to succeed.)

If you want to be a successful blogger:

1.  Avoid Facebook like the plague.  If you absolutely must join Facebook's Networked Blogs because, well, you feel a blog is not worthwhile without a few followers that haven't known you since you were two, then be absolutely sure you are never suckered into playing Farmville or Frontierville.  These games will implode your day before you realize it.

2.  Don't raise children.  That will provide you with endless fodder, for sure, but it, too, will suck up all the time in your day and all the energy you need to actually type a blog post.  Instead, borrow children periodically from your friends and neighbors.  They will love to share.  Trust me.

3.  Keep a tablet by your bedside table for all those fabulous ideas you have in the middle of the night.  No matter how much you think you will remember them in the morning, you won't, and no one will ever believe you had them.

4.  Avoid answering the phone when people call.  Time spent chatting on the phone is time you could spend blogging.

5.  Have a big extended family and an network of friends that goes back ages.  These types of friends and family are more likely to elect to "follow" your blog publicly and to comment every so often so that you feel like you aren't talking to yourself.  (Note that keeping in touch with these people might actually require you to break rule number 1 or rule number 4.)  If you have such a network, and they don't volunteer to help you, feel free to threaten them with sharing old family or playground secrets in your blog.  Either they will follow you to shut you up (or see if you are serious), or they will call your bluff because you aren't a popular enough blogger for them to worry about their secrets.  Regardless, you win.

6.  Make friends with lots of other bloggers.  Be sure to "follow" their blogs.  Don't actually read them, though.  There are so many talented and worthwhile blogs out there that you will spend all your valuable time reading them and forgetting about yours.

7.  Don't read your email, or spend anytime actually reading anything on Twitter, for the same reason as #6.  How you will actually "make friends" with other bloggers without reading their blogs or chatting with them on Twitter is an issue I haven't managed to solve yet.

8.  Have pets.  They make great blog fodder. 

9.  Have another family member in charge of actually caring for the pets you obtain pursuant to #8.

10.  Carry a camera with you at all times, so if you start to falter, you will always have a stock of "Wordless Wednesday" photos in reserve.

And there you have it. 


How to Ruin a Roll of Toilet Paper and Confuse Your Wife At The Same Time

>> Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How does one ruin a roll of toilet paper?  There aren't that many ways to totally destroy the thing.  Even a viscious attack by a hunting domestic feline really only spoils the first inch or so.  In most disasters, at least a small part of the toilet paper will be salvageable.  Only two methods really qualify as "total destruction":  Fire, and a whole lot of water.  (Technically, dropping the roll down a latrine makes it "gone" but not "totally ruined."  Totally gross maybe, but not ruined.)

For the adventuresome husband, boyfriend, or significant other parenting figure, here are a few steps you can take to totally ruin a roll of toilet paper and simultaneously confuse the heck out of your wife/girlfriend/significant other parenting figure.  (For this exercise, small children are helpful.  In their absence, you can attempt to modify the steps to accomodate small furry pets.)

Step One:  Place child on toilet seat for pre-bath "potty break" in full reach of full roll of toilet paper.  Make sure toilet paper is off the spindle.  In fact, if you can, arrange to have the spindle completely broken so there is no question about *why* said toilet paper is not on the spindle.

Step Two:  Turn your back on child while child picks up toilet paper and hides it behind his back.

Step Three:  Lift child into bathtub, conveniently not noticing the toilet paper in his/her hands.

Step Four:  Set child into the bathtub and watch while child attempts to sit on toilet paper roll.

Step Five:  Notice soaking wet, sopping, and now dripping full roll of toilet paper in the bathtub and attempt to rescue it.

Step Six:  Examine toilet paper roll carefully, and conclude that in the next million years or so, it might dry out again and become useable.

Step Seven:  Leave sopping wet roll of toilet paper on the edge of the bathtub to "drip dry".

Step Eight:  Decide to not bother to get out a new roll, but set up a convenient box of facial tissues "just in case".

Step Nine:  Go to work the next morning and wait for your spouse to call with the question, "Would you like to tell me what happened to the toilet paper in your child's bathroom?"

Step Ten:  Try to explain how you really thought the paper might dry "soon".

Step Eleven:  Laugh and apologize.

Step Twelve:  Bring home dinner, and make it good.


What Really Happens When You Open "Instant Dough"

>> Friday, November 12, 2010

A few weeks ago, I made some allusions to an argument I had with a can of "instant dough."  To clarify, by "instant dough," I mean the kind that comes in a can and that has perforations in the dough so the user can tear it and roll it into pieces that will become crescents, biscuits, or whatever shape is described on the label.  I'm sure most of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

To use instant dough like this properly and effectively, you need to be able to see the perforations, and to tear the dough at the right spot.  If you can't do this, then we've lost the whole point and you might as well have just mixed up your own batter and kneaded it into whatever you want.  So, when you leave those cans in the refrigerator past their "suggested use by" date, and they get tempermental, things can get interesting.

Take, for example, a particularly troublesome can of allegedly crescent-shaped rolls I encountered in September.  I peeled back the label, exposing the ever-so-critical black line to the air.  Of course, I did this with the tube about as far away from me as I could, gingerly waiting for the *pop* of the can in my hand.  This *pop* isn't loud, and it isn't scary, but still, I can't seem to just peel back that label without stretching my arms out to their full length ... just in case the little sucker might want to explode.  (For the record, I do the same thing with those hypodermic-needle looking wine  bottle openers that inject air under the cork so it pops out.  I've also noticed that the majority of people who aren't wine butlers will do the same thing with a bottle of champagne.)

So, there I was, arms outstretched, black line exposed, and ...

and ...


Nothing happened.

No *pop*.

The can didn't open.

So, I dug into my bag of tricks. 

I banged the can on the countertop.  Nothing happened.

I got out a spoon and tapped the black line.  Nothing happened.

I removed the rest of the label.  Nothing happened.  (Are you getting the picture?)

"So now what?" I wondered.  What on earth could I do with a hermetically sealed tube of crescent rolls that refuses to open?  Dinner was waiting, people!

For lack of any better options, I got out a knife and tried to pry the seam under the black line apart.  The moment the knife point penetrated the thin cardboard, I learned what about instant dough is supposed to make the can pop open.  Exposure to air through the super-thin cardboard at the black line is supposed to make the dough expand, popping the fragile cardboard and presenting the cook with a nice cylindrical pile of ready-to-separate dough.  (Let's assume that the dough isn't stuck to the cardboard anywhere, or tears where it isn't supposed to, or ... you know.  Let's stick with the ideal here.)

When the cardboard won't give, a little knife prick hole sends expanding dough oozing out like toothpaste from a toothpaste tube, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.  Forget about careful tearing of perforations.  This stuff is snaking out like one of those Fourth of July "firework toys" that turn into tubes of carbon when you light the little bullet thing on fire.  (Is that enough analogies?)  No perforations will survive.  The dough, for all intents and purposes, was becoming one long thin strand suitable for braiding into 1/3 of a french twist.

Okay ... that happened.  Now what?  The dough had a life of its own, and someone had to do something.  (Given that it's only me and the 3 year old in the house, I figured "someone" was me, 'cause he'd just poke at it and then ask me to help him wash his hands.  Or smear it in the furniture.  One or the other.)

Once again, fresh out of any other brilliant ideas, I headed for the can opener.  I had to find a way to libertate this dough.

Can openers, in case you were wondering, have a similar impact on expanding dough as knife pricks do.  At the first cut of the can opener, dough began squeezing out the end.  Thankfully, the can opener worked quickly, and in a matter of moments the entire end was off, allowing the dough to ooze out like a really big, fat sausage ... with, of course, the pencil-sized appendage from the knife prick still growing on the side.

Thankfully, at this point, I was able to use the knife to finish removing the cardbord from the cylinder of expanding dough, which was a huge relief, because all that dough was starting to stick to that blasted cardboard that wouldn't pop.  (It never did pop, you know.)

As for the crescent rolls ... well ... what can I say?  I pretended I let Bubba help me put them together.  One or two came out reasonably normal.  The rest?  Let's just say it's a good thing we weren't having company or anything. 

Hey, they were edible.


A Random Wordless Wednesday Post

>> Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Now tell me, doesn't this kid have the right idea?



Now, When Did That Happen?

>> Monday, November 8, 2010

This morning I realized something.

Somewhere in the past two years, I became a "mom." 

No, no, no.  I don't mean a parent.  I don't mean a mother.  I mean a "mom."  I'm one of those women that drops the kids off at school and heads straight to the supermarket to stand in line with all the other "moms" to buy cheese and meat before pickup time.

Have you ever noticed that?  The primary population of the grocery store before 10 AM is moms with small children and very slow moving senior citizens.  (Then again, if you are neither, chances are you are at work, or still at home in your PJs sipping one more cup of coffee before forcing yourself out the door, so how would you know?)

I'm guessing that these particular moms are at the store at that hour because it's just down the street from the preschool and/or elementary school drop off, and grocery shopping with one or more fewer children is SO MUCH EASIER, no matter how many you still have with you.  After all, these women seem to have a more well-worn look to their faces and a very practiced hand on those carts.  These are no novices, even though they have small children in arms or carts.  They mean business.  They've seen this road before and know all the tricks.

Take me for example.  I mean, before we joined preschool, I thought 10 AM was plenty early enough to make it to the store.  Now I'm peeved if I'm not home by 10 AM.  I used to struggle managing a bag of envelopes with coupons, a cart-ramming Toddler with a baseball arm for yogurt cartons, and a shopping list with some measure of dignity.  Generally, I failed.  Now, sans Toddler, I can do the whole thing in 1/3 the time.  I'm guessing that the next step along the path (should we choose to take it), is gaining the same kind of shopping speed, poise, silent children, and determination that these truly veteran moms do.  (Oomph, I think that requires having more children.  Hmm.)  The daily goal?  In, out, on the way, home to unpack, do laundry and dishes, and still get back at school in time for lunch. 

I'm impressed by the silent dignity and grace of these women and all they accomplish before noon.  After all, I still get hung up with my blog and Twitter while the dishes linger in the sink and the laundry breeds on the living room floor.  (Guess what I'm supposed to be doing right now while I'm blogging to you?)

I'm also appalled that I've reached this phase in my life where I can seek fulfillment in rapid-shopping, spiffy cleaning, and quiet children, although I can certainly envy all three.

My child is 3 1/2, and I'm still not ready to be a "Mom".  A "mommy," and a "mother" are all well and good, but "Moms" chaperone field trips and run carpools and attend youth league sporting events.  Me?  I'm still a goof-off that would rather go to the toy store to shop for my husband's birthday present 'cause I know I'll find something.  I still think McDonalds is lot of fun, with or without my son.  I haven't managed to panic yet about food preservatives, and I still cringe when someone calls me a "Mommy Blogger."  Most of all, I cannot fathom that we are scheduled to drive for next week's field trip to the pet store. 

I'm sending Daddy.  I'm not ready yet.


And What Happened to Her?

>> Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'll be you are all asking yourselves the title of my blog post.  "What the heck happened to her?  Where did she go?"

Yeah, yeah, good question.  Pick whichever of these answers you like:

1.  I'm wasting my days playing Frontierville on Facebook.

2.  Working for a coop preschool is a lot more work than I thought it would be.

3.  I've been hanging around the window looking at Charlie, trying to figure out who managed to keep this wild cat that won't be touched by human hands without a fight away from his home.

4.  I've been out of town a lot, and I actually took nearly a week off without my laptop as an experiment.

5.  I've been really knocked around by these allergies and this nasty preschool plague that seems to last about 3 weeks.

6.  I've drowned in a pile of laundry created by the powers of Entropy and Chaos.

7.  I got lost in my garage.

8.  I went to the Carribean and refused to come back.  (Wouldn't that be nice.)  Alternatively, I decided to go back to Florida.

9.  It's hard to type with a three year old hanging on me.

10.  It's something else I haven't shared yet, and you don't believe a word of what I said above.

Your call.  More posts to come ASAP.


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