Friday, December 30, 2005

so true, so true

it's all about me. deal with it.

Who's Your Happy Bunny?
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Uppity Up-Up-Up

The Child Development Experts™ from BabyCenter tell me that, at seventeen months (week 1), my Captain Adventure is likely to be getting into climbing.

“By now she may be able to climb up a set of stairs, turn around at the top and sit, then scoot her way back down again. Some more cautious toddlers may like climbing up the stairs but will call for help to get back down.”

Well, yes. Although the way Captain Adventure does things is more like this: escape through a crack no bigger than a flea in any gate or doorway, run for the stairs, clamber up same with the speed and agility of a mountain goat (giggling all the way), stand up at the top, do a little victory dance, and then start back down head first on the assumption that before anything really bad can happen, Mommy will use her Olympic-like reflexes to catch me.

He also likes to climb up on the sofa, do the same little dance, and then shinny out onto the arm or back of the sofa and bounce – casting coy glances over his shoulder to make sure that Mommy is having the appropriate fit of apoplexy over his performance.

Boys. Oy.

I’ve never been fond of the Climbing Phase. Terrible Twos (and Snotty Sixes) are annoying, but you get through them in one piece (physically, anyway – mentally is another story). But the Climbing Phase that toddlers go through is hell.

It was during this phase that Danger Mouse plummeted off the clatter bridge part of our brand new, super-deluxe, dual-slide, three-swing-and-a-sandbox, made-for-four-kids Playnation set in our backyard. I helped her up the ladder, expecting that she would stand there at the top for a moment before deciding whether to try the bridge or the slide.

Nope. Ran, hell bent for election, right onto the clatter bridge. And of course, being a clatter bridge, it shifted. She fell right through the gap between the swaying bridge and the railing and belly flopped on the ground below.

You know that thing you see the Olympic gymnasts do on the parallel bars, where they somehow shoot themselves feet-first between the upper and lower bars?

I did that.

As Dog is my witness, and I have no idea how, I did that.

Eight months pregnant, weighing in at an awkwardly-placed 185, I shot myself right between the upper rail of the tower and the upper railing of the bridge - swoosh! Landed with a thud that registered about a 7.3 on the local Richter scales and a shriek that is probably still revolving in space above the Central Valley.

If I had paused to think about things, I probably would have used the ladder. But I was pretty sure Danger Mouse was either dead or, at the very least, missing her nose. So I just got down off that thing the fastest way possible.

She was neither dead nor face-flattened. In point of fact, she kind of bounced and was more scared than hurt. So we lay on the sofa and cried together for a little bit, and I swore that none of my kids would ever be permitted to play on that damned thing again.

About an hour later, she was using kitchen chairs as ladders to the kitchen table, and trying to stretch from there to the counters (a mere three foot span or so) to score crackers.

Toddlers. Oy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Knitting under the influence

Let’s see. How to describe this problem?

OK, so, when you’re making a sock, there is a certain amount of math involved. This is not esoteric math. It isn’t calculus or geometry or any of the other “evil” math art-sciences.

It’s pretty straightforward. You cast on, say, 44 stitches. You work however many inches in a rib pattern. You work however many inches in stockinet or rib or whatever until it is as long as you want. Then, you do the heel.

This is where the math comes in. Not hard math. It’s easy math. Take the ‘X’ stitches you have and divide by 2 – in this case, 44/2 = 22. OK. So far, so good. Then you work (X/2)-2 rows (which here means 20) back and forth on the heel flap. With me so far? This isn’t hard math, right? This is easy math. This isn’t like one of those monster formulas NASA uses to figure the trajectory that will plop a robot on Mars, right?


After you do the 20 rows, you then turn the heel. You take your stitches and divide by 3. If you can’t divide by 3, you get within spitting distance and put the extra one(s) in the middle. So. I’ve got 22, I can’t divide by 3, so I do 7-8-7. Right? Got it? Not hard.

Then. You knit the first two groups (7 + 8 = 15), knit the next two together and turn the work. Purl across those same 15 stitches, purl two together, turn the work. Knit to the little gap, knit 2 together, turn the work. Lather, rinse, repeat, until you’ve used up all the ‘extra’ stitches on the ends and behold – you have a heel.

(I know, non-sock-knitters, I’ve just issued forth some weird blather in Swahili. Trust me. It isn’t rocket science or anything resembling it.)

So. Last night I went about this basic maneuver and…well…um…I ended up with something…


Let’s just say…it ain’t no heel.

It looks more like a boil poking out from an otherwise lovely straight tube. I’m not sure, but it looks like I was throwing an extra stitch (or two) into the mix before I turned each time.

I have no idea what I did wrong, but I’m pretty sure the chardonnay had something to do with it.

Also, it is definitely not a heel. It is Just Plain Wrong.


Oh well. I knew knitting under the influence would bring me to grief. I’m just going to be grateful I wasn’t working on some astonishingly elegant piece of dainty lace, tear out whatever this Not A Heel thing is, and move on.

Under the influence of caffeine, this time, which has never done my knitting a bit of harm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I am NOT freaking out!!!!!

OK, maybe just a little bit.

I have now been home with the kids for two years. It has been wonderful. It has been fabulous to enjoy this time with my children. I will treasure this time in my heart for ever and ever.

And, I am so excited to be going back to work that I can hardly sleep at night.

At the same time, I’m spoilt for choice. I have one job offer on the table. I have keen interest from another source. I have agencies already courting me, and I haven’t even officially thrown my resume into the ring…they just heard through mutual friends that I was thinking about it. I have an opportunity to start my own consulting business and be plenty busy right out the gate.

So many options! And, bonus, none of them suck. But still…which one is best? Consulting solo, no benefits, no security at all, but the potential for making the best balance between bucks and being able to give myself the afternoon off to go to a school assembly? Or working for Da Man as an FTE, for less pay but with paid vacation, 401k matching and health benefits (which I don’t need at the moment, but who knows what tomorrow may bring?)? Or maybe going back to consulting, with the higher paycheck, lower security, few or no benefits and the glorious frenzy of the week or two between projects?

Choices, choices, choices.

Meanwhile, a little voice inside my head is screaming that I am nowhere near ready to be starting this.

My work clothes are a disgrace. My house is so utterly disorganized that I am ashamed to have people over. If they ask me for a paperclip, I’m sunk. I know I have at least two gross of them, but where…um…that’s another matter altogether. I can’t find anything. Tupperware? An entire bank of cupboards dedicated to it, but whether or not a fitting lid or the ‘right’ shape/size can be found is another matter.

How in the world, says the little voice, do you expect us to go to work with such utter chaos reigning in our Tupperware cupboards?! Not to mention the unmentionable state of the built-ins, the closets, the lack of clean underwear and the fact that I have had laundry stacked four feet high on my dresser for approximately the last six months and there is no end in sight and besides all that I have a few dozen other little items of chaos to discuss and…!

I tell the voice to Shut. Up.

I tell it that I have at least one full week of childcare before I’m likely to be galloping out for even an official interview. I tell it that in one week of childcare, I will be more than able to clean up my house, get myself some decent clothing to wear to work and figure out what to do about my hair. Yes, little voice, we do rather resemble a drowned rat. We are also a bit fluffy around the midsection. However, we do not currently frighten children – even those that aren’t our own. So suck it up, and walk it off.

But it doesn’t shut up, or walk off.

It just moves on to fretting about other things. It chatters worse than my four year old, who is currently in the middle of a big time Chatterbox phase.

So hey, if we’re going to start up our own business, well, you remember last time? The way it got to be so damned 24/7 that we were working while on vacation in Mendocino? And the way that clients were over all days of the week because you don’t know how to set limits, especially when you’re being paid handsomely not to do so?

Then again, if we go contract, we’ve got the whole problem of the clients wanting to own us for the duration of the project. They get all pissy if you want to take a Friday off so you can go to a school assembly and so forth. Not to mention that then they do That Thing, where they refuse to either confirm or deny a contract extension and blah blah blah. And then there’s that period between, when you worry like crazy because you haven’t gotten anything yet…and you never dare spend any of the money you make, because You Never Know…

Of course (the voice continues, in spite of my pointed staring at the clock, which is usually saying something like 2:13 a.m. during this conversation), if we take the FTE thing, well! We’re talking a minimum of $25,000 less per year in our pocket! Which considering the high cost of daycare really, really sucks! So maybe we’d want to go contract after all…


It is as though my brain has turned into a frantic rodent, panting along on a wheel trying to get away from inner demons – keenly aware that it isn’t getting anywhere, but determined to keep trying.

All that clawing is actually causing me to walk into walls due to sleep deprivation worse than anything I ever suffered after the birth of a child. We will not go into the effect this has on my love life, as it crosses well over into the TMI zone. Suffice to say that I think my husband may actually turn to 900 numbers (and worse, I’m not sure I’d blame him!) if I don’t quit trying to debate the relative merits of one form of income generation over another with him in those precious moments between when all the kids are in bed and when we have to get out of bed to deal with one or all of them again. He’d really rather be talking about something…uh…else, right about then.

Also, I am breaking out like a teenager about to go to the prom. If this keeps up, I will feel impelled to spend one of those precious ‘childcare before working’ days at a spa begging the esthetician to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!

Not that this would be a bad thing, necessarily. I could get my eyebrows mowed while I’m at it. I think a mowing would be required before a waxing could be attempted. Like I said. I’ve been home with the kids for two years.


I’m just…pondering the imponderables.


All night.


Thank $DEITY for Knitting and Chardonnay. I just finished a lovely pair of lace socks today (I’ll put up pictures once I’ve found the sync cable for the digital camera – see note regarding state of the house and inability to find crap therein above, but here’s someone else’s ) work in a more sensible color), in hot (whooooo-eeeee, are they ever PINK!) pink because that’s what our babysitter said she wanted, and am about to cast on a pair for my Eldest in the same color because she says she wants a pair.

Also, I have decided after many, many sips thereof, that I rather like the Black Swan chardonnay. It is very tasty, and gets more so the more one sips.

So. I’m going to casht ohn a few shtiches onto these, uh, sharp-pointy-thingees here and do a few rounds of shtockinette-shtish.

That oughta settle me down, yessiree, that oughta about do it…

(Tune in tomorrow, for the hung over rant about why one should never try to knit socks while high on imported chardonnay…)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Be It Herewith Resolved…

I don’t “do” Resolutions. Just paint me red and call me a rebel, but I just can’t get into the whole Resolution thing, even casually.

I think it stems from my having a somewhat casual attitude toward the “calendar year”. While I can hardly just disregard it altogether (thank you, Mr. IRS, for forcing me to make a long series of nonsensical numbers, such as “by 4/15/2006 I must account for all dollars earned from 1/1/2005 through 12/31/2005”, a major part of my life), in terms of my overall life direction…I just can’t really get all that charged up about January 1 as a Catalyst for Change, personally.

I have even developed a kind of disdain for the Resolution thing. Year after year, the same people make the same promises – they’re going to lose weight, search for love, move up, move out, change their hair, stop smoking, blah blah blah.

And by February…what Resolution? Oh, yeah, that, ha ha, well, um, I’m just having this one Texas-sized Coldstone sundae and a cigarette, and then I swear


There’s just something about those New Year Resolutions. They’re throw-away promises, which perturbs me.

And yet, every year, people start asking me around Thanksgiving if I’ve got any “good” resolutions for this coming year. I then get away with making vague muttering noises until this very week, this week right here, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It is now that people begin to start pestering about it with the zeal of the recently converted.

“I’m resolving that this year, I’m giving up having wild sex with strangers while my husband is at work! How about you, you got any good ones this year?”

And then they wait, with breathless anticipation, for me to declare my intention of giving up my international lottery scams, my meth cooking, my beating of the children or my four-skein-a-week yarn habit (never! NEVER!!!!)

In years past, I’ve trotted out either something utterly banal or something intensely disgusting, depending on the persistence of the asker.

Which those of you who meet up with me in person during this whole New Year week might want to bear in mind: if you keep pestering me about NO REALLY what resolutions I intend to press to my bosom this year, I’m seriously going to tell you all about how I intend to resist becoming an Olympic-class nose picker this allergy season, because I tell you what, last spring (and some of the early summer, too!) I spent three or more hours per day with my index finger, this index finger right here, recently used to arrange the crudités on the platter, shoved about two inches up my sinus cavity trying to dig out the gravel I was pretty sure had gotten stuck in there.

You have been warned.

The awful truth is, I don’t have any ‘real’ resolutions. I didn’t have any last year, and I don’t have any resolutions this year, either.

I have goals. I have dreams and wishes and good things I want to do more of and bad habits that need breaking.

But they have nothing to do with January 1, 2006.

So, this year, I resolve to have no ‘real’ resolutions.


Did I just make a Resolution…?

Monday, December 19, 2005

More proof just in: I’m a rotten parent

I am informed of this little gem of parental wisdom this morning:

“Validate your child's emotions.
Instead of saying, "There's no reason to get so upset," if your child gets mad and throws a tantrum because he's unable to put together a puzzle, acknowledge how natural his reaction is. Say, "It's really frustrating when you can't finish a puzzle, isn't it?" Telling him his reactions are inappropriate or excessive will make him feel as if he should muzzle them.”

Oops. I had this wild idea that muzzling inappropriate or excessive reactions was a very valuable social skill.

So, the next time I’m in WalMart and some jackass parks his cart sideways across the aisle, I will demand validation of my emotions instead of condemnation when I accelerate to ramming speed and take his self-absorbed butt out. That is precisely what I would do if I didn’t muzzle my reactions a bit. But my mother, being a rotten parent as well, taught me to temper my natural anger and normal violence, and to respond with a wholly unnatural politeness: “Pardon me, can I just squeeze past?”

OK, OK, I’m only half serious. There is a big difference between a two year old throwing a tizzy fit and, say, a six year old doing so. A two year old doesn’t understand his own problem, half the time.

I’ve seen my toddler-aged kids go from bumbling happily around the room playing with blocks to lying on the floor shrieking and kicking in a matter of seconds, and for no apparent reason. With their language skills so limited, they have no way of articulating what’s bugging them so; more than half the time, I suspect that even if they had the vocabulary, they still couldn’t really say what just happened to them, emotionally.

More than half the time, I can’t either. I can’t explain why I feel such tremendous bursts of rage sometimes over what really are very minor little things. Getting cut off while driving, dropping a stitch while knitting, having apple juice splash all over the floor, or starting to pull into a parking spot only to discover that some inconsiderate jackass has left their cart in the middle of it.

It’s so…nothing. So minor. So…not worth the bother. And yet, sometimes, I feel such a surge of fury over such things that I’m shaking with the desire to beat the holy crap out of someone over it. I’ll often have to walk away from the situation for a minute to put a muzzle on my reaction before returning to the problem at hand, lest I do something stupid and/or violent.

So I can readily understand my toddler getting screaming-and-kicking angry over, say, the red block not being blue, or the wrong song singing forth from the little plastic phone, or not being able to recreate The Thinker out of tinker toys due to manual dexterity issues.

But I still personally think that part of our job is to teach our children how to control themselves. And sometimes, damn it, your reaction is inappropriate and/or excessive. It’s part of my job to point this out, and to help you find a better way to deal with the things that irk you.

Because honestly – ramming the bastard in WalMart may be gratifying in the very short-term, but in the long run? Assault and battery charges, jail time, community service…it just ain’t worth it, kid.

Trust me on this one.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Such good kids

Yesterday morning, I cracked open the last gallon of milk when making my second mocha of the day and realized Something Was Amiss.

It was a slight odor. A very slight odor. So slight that I debated with myself for a moment as to whether or not so slight an odor was really something to worry about – after all, I said to myself, I’m going to be putting it in the microwave for two whole minutes and then steaming it, how much bacteria could possibly survive that?!

Then I called to mind my condition last Friday, when I woke up at 2:00 in the morning shivering, sweating, and keenly aware that my intestinal tract was about to explode out of my body in every direction at once, marched to the sink and dumped the entire gallon of milk down it.

I made my mocha with the bare scrapings of whole milk that was supposed to be for the baby (eh, a sippy cup of juice instead won’t kill him this once, whereas an under-caffeinated mother just might) and a generous dollop of heavy cream and faced the brutal reality that {gulp} I had to go to the supermarket.



Oh, mercy. Worst of all, the very thought turned what should have been a very luxurious mocha (heavy whipping cream rocks in a mocha!!!) to ashes in my mouth. I began struggling to find a way around going with the kids in tow…

…I thought about waiting until my husband got home – but I knew full well he wouldn’t be home before 7:30 at the earliest, and possibly even later.

…I thought about waiting until I had dropped Danger Mouse and Boo Bug off at school – but then Captain Adventure is already about half an hour past his desired nap time and taking him to the supermarket would be remarkably foolish. Might as well take hatpins to poke him with while I’m at it. He’ll be shrieking and screaming before we even get out of the van – worse, he’ll then refuse to nap for the rest of the day, collapse at 5:30, get up again at 7:00 and want to stay up all freakin’ night. Not worth it.

…I thought about lying down on the sofa for a good long cry, but realized it would probably give me a headache and besides – first I’d have to clean off the sofa, which would undoubtedly mean pulling out the vacuum cleaner and then naturally I’d end up doing the whole freakin’ room just ‘cause and what would that solve? Nothing!!

No. It was either “do without milk until tomorrow” (which also means doing without bread, rolls, muffins, waffles, the sugar cookies I wanted to make today and {gasp, shock, HORROR} my afternoon, early evening and crack-of-dawn tomorrow coffees!), or…suck it up and be a woman about it. Get ‘er done. Do the necessary. Shoulders back, chin up, hair contained, makeup on and heerrrrrrrrrre we go! Big smiles everyone!!

So I loaded up the four Denizens and headed out into the dense fog. After dropping off Eldest, I informed the remaining Denizens (brightly) that we were going to the supermarket.

“Hooray!” they shouted, in the way they do when anything different is announced.

Yeah, great, whoopee. I reminded them that, if they were super-duper amazingly good, they would be permitted to select a Treat from the candy aisle.

“HOORAY!!!!!” they shouted with real feeling, and began assuring their best-best-bestest of behavior.

It didn’t start out well. The only “car” shopping cart I could find was soaking wet from having been left out last night, and it was damned cold outside. My children were sniffling and whining and grousing about their sore noses and hands (how many mittens have I made for them?! and where are they?!) as I wandered around like a member of the Lost Tribe searching for one of the at least five of those stupid car-shaped carts I know the supermarket has in its arsenal.

Nope. Not one, other than the soaking wet one – which got snagged by a dad who simply plopped his Princess in there without regard for the fact that she was going to be drenched. She screamed and wailed all the way through the store, but refused to get out of the car – even though she was being put through the Chinese water torture routine. Drip-shriek, drip-shriek, drip-shriek.

I grabbed the only three seater left, the less-desirable bench seat model. I expected whining. I got…giggling. The girls were charmed because they got to sit facing their baby brother, and he was equally charmed to be flirting with them the entire time.

Let me say that again.

My two daughters found it absolutely the most charming thing in the world that they got to sit and stare at their baby brother for the duration of the shopping trip, and he was vastly entertained, the entire time, by playing ‘look-away’ (a variation of peek-a-boo, where one turns one’s head coquettishly to the side for a moment, then suddenly whips it around to grin at one’s partner).

Hooooooookay. I am not questioning, I am just burning incense to the God of Short Attention Spans in thanks that, for thirty minutes, my children managed to mostly entertain themselves with something as simple as that. Oh, and the fact that we made train noises while in motion. That was also tremendous fun (for them – me, I got a bit winded trying to make the chugga-chugga noises while pushing 100+ pounds of toddler/preschooler/kindergarten plus all the groceries).

The whining did not begin until we hit the produce section – which happened to also be the very last stop on our little adventure. And the whining stopped the instant they were reminded that they had to be super-duper good to get their Treat.

We got to the checkout line, and I let them out to choose their treats. This being a weighty matter demanding much careful thought, consideration and debate, I was all but completely unloaded by the time they returned with their decisions: white chocolate Reese’s and candy-coated Hershey Kisses, which they placed on the belt with due solemnity before hopping back onto the bench. They know the drill: they have chosen the Treat, but it can still be lost!! Super Duper Goodness must be maintained until everyone is buckled into their seats in the van and we’re ready to go. Then and only then will the Treat be given out, with mommy’s undying gratitude that you did not humiliate her in front of the masses.

It was at this point that I realized that I have some pretty extraordinarily good kids.

I realized this because of the other children around us.

Princess was still screaming. Any time her father tried to appease her, she kicked him. The child in front of us went into a tizzy fit when his mother pried the package of cookies out of his hand – just for a second, sweetie! – so the cashier could swipe them. There were a pair of twins we had encountered a couple times who were so amazingly bratty that I honestly think I might have used duct tape over their mouths had they been mine. Four years old (or so), and their mother was their personal slave. They demanded potato chips, and first she said ‘absolutely not’, then ‘no’ (more in a ‘please don’t ask me to do this’ than an actual ‘no, end of discussion’ way), then ‘wellllll…’, and then they were popped into the cart. Immediately, they began demanding to be allowed to eat the chips while they shopped, and I’m pretty sure the conversation went the same way. Absolutely not {SHRIEK!} No {WAIL!} Wellllll {holding breath until faces turn purple} OK, but just this once…

I looked at my three children. They were giggling and goofing off, but they were staying seated (as commanded), weren’t hitting each other, weren’t hollering and yelling about wanting their Treat, NOW!, weren’t being little brats.

Damn, but I do love my kids.

Now, if I can just hold onto this feeling for those times when they’re all running amuck in the house on these cold, rainy days screaming and shrieking and throwing things down the stairs…

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Just call me Santa

The Yarn Harlot listed off all the projects she thinks she’s going to get done by Christmas and their current state in her blog today.

Ha! I am so all over this thing! I have:

Five faceclothes like these, one fully knit, one that just needs its ends run in, and three still yarn. They take about two hours apiece to make, so I figure I’m golden. I can finish one per day, easy, just while sitting in the pickup lane waiting for one kid or another to go in / come out of school. That’s only six hours of knitting left to go on this gift…

One pair of socks which are still yarn and which have been giving me fits. Something is wrong with this yarn. I’m serious. I don’t understand it. I take the yarn, I put it on the needle. I need the gauge. It hits gauge dead-center-right-spot-on-couldn’t-be-any-closer-than-that. My gauge is so precisely dead-on that NASA is phoning to compliment me on my engineering skills.

Yet when I cast on the correct number of stitches per the pattern I have used at least nine times in the past – I get socks that look like they were designed for someone suffering from elephantitis.

Anyway, those should take only about 20 hours (or so) of intense don’t-bother-me-I’m-knitting knitting. Hmm. Maybe I could make them ankle socks instead of boot socks…

Three pairs of mittens with matching hats for the girls – still yarn. Well, um, technically, it isn’t even yarn yet, because I haven’t gotten the yarn yet. But, undaunted, I leave them on the list. After all, I can whump out a pair of mitten in less than an hour, especially to fit a tiny little four year old.

One pair of lacy pink socks for the babysitter. I have no idea how long they will take, because I have never done such an intricate lace pattern on socks. I’m assuming somewhat more than ‘about 20’ but somewhere less than ‘the rest of my life.’

And, a scarf for a friend. Still yarn. Yarn which, again, I haven’t received yet. C’mon, UPS, don’t fail me now!! And then, about, oh, eight hours later, I should have her gift together.

Let’s see. {counts on fingers} I make that to be {counts again on fingers}, oh, let’s call it…sixty hours of knitting left to have all my Christmas presents done. There being ten days left, that’s only six hours a day of knitting I need to get done.

And, being for the next week (or two) a SAHM with absolutely nothing to do but sit on my butt eating bon-bons and watching Days of our Lives (is that even still aired?), I should be well able to get that, right?

Absolutely. Just like last year, when everybody got what they really wanted for Christmas.
Gift cards.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Some days, for whatever reason, my children are just High Maintenance.

Most days, they’re on the moderate side, attention-demands-wise. They want cuddles, they want to tell me lengthy stories, that kind of thing. No big. And of course, around meal and snack times, they tend to hit me with about six hundred action-related questions per second: can I have juice? Cookies? Candy? A pretzel? Oranges? Bananas? What about my juice?

And some days, I almost wouldn’t even know they were here. Those days are rare. But they do happen. They go up into their rooms and play, all day, and I hear next to nothing from them.

That, however, was not today.

Today was a High Maintenance kind of day. I suspect it is because I am actually trying to do things today. I have a lot of ducks to get in a row today. I have a lot of paperwork I’m trying to do today. I’ve got a task list, and none of it is time-insensitive.

So naturally, every eight seconds: “MOMMMMMEEEEEEEE!!!!!!”

She took my toy.
She hit me.
She’s in front of the TV.
She’s sitting on the table.
She’s got my paper.
Captain Adventure got out of the playroom!
Captain Adventure is on the stairs!
Oops – Captain Adventure just fell over backwards and hit his head and there’s BLOOD coming out!!!!
Can I have some juice?
Can I have cookies?
Can I have pizza?
Mommy – mommy – mommy – mommy – mommy – mommy – mommy - !

“Look,” I say, in my best Reasonable Adult voice. “I’m kind of busy right now. I need to finish what I’m doing. Can you guys go into the playroom and play until lunchtime?”

“OK,” they reply, in their best Reasonable Kid voice.

Five seconds later, someone has hit someone else over the head with the Ming vase, and all hell has broken loose. And I have so far filled in three (3) of the approximately seventeen thousand (17,000) boxes on each of the fourteen (14) forms I’m trying to get filled out today.


On the bright side – the Snooty Center has welcomed both of my youngest children with open arms. Sure, maybe it’s just all good PR, but they seemed very happy to see all of us again. Captain Adventure was delighted with the toddler room (which will last until he realizes that it means Mommy is {gasp} going away, which will end his love affair with it immediately) and Boo Bug had to be physically torn away from her new classroom and cried all the way home because it was “cooler” than her current preschool.

Hmm. I wonder if they could start, you know, like, um, how about tomorrow? Does tomorrow work for you guys…?

(Anyone wishing to take bets as to whether I will spend the entire first day of so-called freedom sniffing into a Kleenex may do so, just don’t do it in front of me. I like to pretend I’m a big tough old ‘suck it up and walk it off’ kind of mommy.)

Childcare Snobbery

So. Due primarily to what I like to call ‘cash flow issues’ (because it sounds so much more dignified than “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!”) and secondarily to the fact that I’m just really-really ready to do so, I’ve been pondering going back to work.

Which means I need to find childcare for my Precious Poopsies.

Ah, yes. Childcare. Such fun! Such excitement!

Such a pain in the ass.

So I’m looking for someplace to place Captain Adventure and Boo Bug – the older two are covered through their current school. And naturally, I don’t want to put them just anywhere with just anybody.

Oh no.

I called around, I checked out programs and facilities, and what have I about 98% settled on?

The number one most expensive option in town. The one that is anywhere from $100 to $200 a week more than other available options.

Of course I have. Apparently, I feel that we are just ever-too hot of shots to send our children anywhere but the snootiest, second-most granola option in town (the single most granola option is actually cheaper, but I have concerns that they are too weird a combination of granola and military school).

I have two compelling reasons. The first is past experience. It’s where we sent all three of the girls in years past, and we have never been anything but happy with them. They’re clean, well-run, have good discipline without being militaristic about things, provide good food and keep the kids (reasonably) clean throughout the day. Also, there isn’t a TV anywhere to be found in the center – I have to admit, I got kind of pissy about finding my kids had been watching video tapes for three or four hours a day. What are they supposed to do when they get home, for Pete’s sake?!

The other is that this center has a full kindergarten on site. So instead of having to deal with freaky transportation issues for the weird half-day schedule of the public school’s kindergarten, I can just drop her off at the center when that time all-too-soon comes. Her classroom runs the kindergarten program in the morning, and then goes seamlessly on to standard daycare arts and crafts, and all the other catch phrases that basically mean “they go play”.

I thought about a nanny, but I still have nightmares from the last time we had one. Lord. First of all, relying on just one person to provide childcare for four children is kind of psycho. Secondly, there is nothing the state of California hates more than an Employer. Employers must be punished at any and all opportunity. Those bureaucratic donkeys still send me the occasional nastygram about some tax or other they think I should be paying, and she’s been gone from our lives for four years. And third, I have never once found one who didn’t have one, two or even three of her own kids she wants to drag along. Even when I put the ‘no other children, please’ requirement right in the ad – still the mothers would call. They always expressed surprise that their kids were part of the ‘no other children’ requirement. “But they’re not other children – they’re mine!” they would explain.

Yes. And now, you’ve brought your kids into my house (which event I’m not really insured for), and they are tearing my house apart because kids are always monsters to their own mothers, and they are terrorizing my kids, and you are both distracted and trying to watch five to eight children all by yourself. Plus, how the heck are you going to take my older kids to and from school, given that even my big old van can only transport four kids at a time?!


Anyway. Yes. I have become a Childcare Snob. I think I’ve talked myself into it. They’re going to the expensive option. Because then, I will be able to go to work without worrying about Things.

That right there is worth every dime.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Have you ever messed something up? Made a fiscal error that made you want to slam your head on the desk? Forgotten to pay a bill, or overpaid a bill (I did once write $250 when I meant to write $25), or maybe clicked on ‘Buy It Now’ on eBay and, only after having signed off in blood that yes, you did want to buy that, realized that no, actually, you didn’t?

Take heart. As with most miseries, embarrassments, and other viciously nasty things that we can do to ourselves, there is someone out there who has it worse than you. Case in point for today: Mizuho Securities, who today managed the astonishing feat of accidentally screwing up a little stock order.

What They Meant To Do: SELL one (1) share of J-Com for six hundred and ten thousand (610,000) yen (which, the article helpfully tells me, is the equivalent of a little over 5,000 of our American smackers).

What They Accidentally Did: SOLD six hundred and ten thousand (610,000) shares for one (1) yen – less than $0.01.

They estimate that this little ‘oops, my bad’ is going to cost them about two hundred twenty five million bucks ($225,000,000).

And suddenly, I feel so much better about that time I bought a VCR/DVD player for $400, only to see the price on it drop by almost $200 a few days after I discarded the receipt…

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Keeping me humble

Sometimes, I really do believe that I am “all that”. I congratulate myself on being so frugal. I pat myself on the back for not rushing out and overspending during the holidays. I gloat over successfully avoiding the snack aisle at the supermarket, for staying within budget at the mall, for not rushing out to buy a new Treo just because I’ve thought about the possibility of maybe going back to work someday, or for resisting the urge to buy myself a venti mocha between Child Retrieval Expeditions out of sheer boredom and irritation.

Good job, I say to myself. Atta girl, I crow. You sure have come a long way since your spendthrift days, honey – what an amazing example of Conscientious Consumerism you are!!

Then…I visit a yarn store. Online or in person, it doesn’t matter. I lose all sense of budget when in the presence of yarn, knitting tools, and pattern books.

Here is what I needed from KnitPicks today:

1. A few packages of blocking pins, to block That Damned Shawl, which is within a mere ten hours (or so) of being finished and will require at least two hundred of the things to block.

2. Two skeins of wool: one black, and one white, for a scarf I promised I’d make a friend about six hundred years ago. Because the only black and white yarn I have in my stash turns out to be cashmere / alpaca suitable only for framing – not scarf making.

Here is what I’ve bought from KnitPicks today:

1. A ‘sampler kit’ of their Simple Stripes sock yarn.

2. And, why not, a sampler kit of their Dancing sock yarn line, too. After all (she said, beginning the strange logic that makes such spontaneous purchases “OK” in her little world), when you’re knitting socks for small children, well, shoot! I can probably get two or even three pairs of socks for them with the same amount of yarn I’d use for one pair of adult socks! So I’m saving money, because at this rate each pair of socks will cost less than two dollars, and you just can’t get Good Wool Socks™ for that kind of price, suuuuuuure, you can get the WalMart acrylic crap for less but Good Wool Socks™? No way. Those suckers can be $5, $7, even $12 a pair!!

3. A cute little book for hats, gloves, mittens and so forth. Because one can never have enough of these books, especially when one is vowing that next year, everybody one loves is going to get something handknit to express that yes – I loved them enough to spend Lord knows how many hours putting in the 34,000 stitches required to make a pair of handknit socks. (Oy.)

Which reminds me: don’t expect many posts between now and Christmas. I will be busy freaking out about whether or not my {brother, sister in law, nephews, nieces, postman} would be terribly offended and think I don’t love him/her at all if I don’t inflict a Peruvian-style head snuggler on him/her and trying to finish an entire year’s worth of knitting in the next 17 days. Ho ho ho, and pass the bandaids because I’m wearing the skin right off my fingers with all this knitting.

4. Oh yeah. The black and white yarn I need for the promised scarf. Saaaaaaaay, I kind of like this forest green, too. Maybe just, say, a skein or two of that while we’re at it, and one of the cocoa and just one more in the ‘natural’, so then I can make a Fair Isle hat, maybe even two of them!…

5. And blocking pins. 200 blocking pins, with BIG FLOWER HEADS on them so that it will be harder to miss one when picking them out, hence avoiding the Incident We Will Not Mention involving a blocking pin that ‘somehow’, ‘mysteriously’, ended up lurking in the folds of the playroom sofa.

6. Oooooooh! Check it out! A retractable, craft-sized measuring tape. I always need a measuring tape, because no matter how many I own, I can never find one when I need it. Ever. And retractable means that even if Captain Adventure does go digging through my craft bag and pulls it out, he won’t be able to hang himself with it the way he can with my regular plastic one.

The total of cost of what I actually needed: about $10.

Total final bill: $121.39


Of course, I immediately head into the Land of Rationalization. Average sock yarn, I remind myself, costs about $6-12 per ball, and you need two balls for a pair of socks, which makes this a tremendous bargain price for darned decent yarn. The socks I just finished for my husband cost me $15 for the pair, $7.50 for each ball. (The ones on the far left. Oh. My. Dog. And he wore them to his company Christmas party. That’s the kind of husband I have. With dress slacks and a BRIGHT PURPLE tie, no less – now you know why I adore him so.) So, see, what I’m getting at is, for 16 balls of sock yarn for a ‘mere’ $40 is actually saving money! It makes perfect sense! It’s logical! It’s even good monetary policy!!

On Jupiter, anyway, which is where I teach yoga, churn out endless perfect soufflés for my incessant dinner parties, and am worshipped as a Deity-Queen.

I think what truly amazes me is that I can get this yarn store effect even when I’m sitting in my kitchen. I mean, it’s one thing to walk into a physical yarn store and be overwhelmed by all the beguiling textures and the scent of wool and the warm tactile delight of the bamboo knitting needles. I can understand that.

But right now I’m sitting in my kitchen smelling my oven as it goes through the cleaning cycle. It is not a ‘sexy, buy-it-now’ kind of smell. I’m listening to my children quarreling over the doll clothes, and the drone of the dish washer.

And yet…even online…I am overwhelmed by the colors, the textures, the wild-eyed glinting of Future Projects. I think of all the people who have ever said they thought a pair of socks I’ve made were ‘cool’ or ‘interesting’ (which I intellectually know actually means, “geez, were ya completely stoned when you cast those suckers on?!”, but which somehow gets translated in my Knitter Brain as meaning, “will you please make a pair just like that for me ASAP?”)

Oh well. Napoleon had his Waterloo. Me, I’ve got wool. And knitting needles. And pattern books. And an endless supply of people I love, who need to be wrapped in handmade whatnots.

There are worse addictions out there. Now. About those stocking-stuffer mittens I was working on…

Friday, December 02, 2005


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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Poisonous, yet ever-so-tasty…

OK, now, here’s one that boggles my mind. And I personally feel that’s saying something, because I’m not what can be called an “alarmist” when it comes to such things. I’m not that into the whole organic thing – shoot, anybody who eats at McDonalds (not that I do) (“Yes, I’d like a Big Mac, small fries extra salt, and a chocolate shake, please…”) (GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN!!!!!) can hardly claim they give a whoop-tee-doo about what’s going into their body.

But this truly does cause my brain to freeze up and go, “HUH?!”

Apparently, the Gummint feels it’s perfectly OK to inject methyl bromide into our strawberry, tomato and so forth fields because otherwise {gasp! horror!} we wouldn’t have a nice, big crop of same. Here in California, an otherwise touchy-feely-organic-Independent/Democratic-tree-hugging-granola-crunching kind of state, we apparently use a whopping 30% of the total national methyl bromide for our damned (yet ever-so-loved, juicy, large, can’t-have-summer-without-em) strawberries.

Let’s see. We know that this stuff is a nasty ozone thief. Class 1, mind you. Not the mere Class 2 for this stuff. Oh no. It’s a major public enemy here. Per the Montreal Protocol treaty (signed by 183 of us World Power types), we were supposed to have fully phased out the use of it by 2005 (oh wait, hey, that’s NOW!).

Never mind that 182 other countries have signed the international Montreal Protocol stating that this stuff is bad news and needs to go bye-bye. Never mind that we also know it is a damned poison, which causes the following list of nastiness:

redness and pain of the skin
burning of the eyes, mouth and nose
nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
kidney problems
chest tightness
fluid in the lungs
lack of energy
low blood pressure
rapid heart rate

Hey, don’t worry about that stuff. We need to keep our perspective. We need to keep our eyes on the prize. We’re talking about our summer bumper crop of strawberries, here!!

And gee whiz, the farmers would just be hurt ever-so-bad if we made them do without it. Not to mention that strawberries would become more expensive, which would probably cripple the American consumer. Imagine! Fourth of July parties, with no strawberries!

OK, I do actually have every sympathy for the growers. As a raging capitalist pig, I don’t like to see anybody’s business harmed. And I know the angst of seeing your strawberries consumed by the damned snails and maggots, because guess what happened to my entire strawberry crop last year? Yes, that’s right! The snails had a feast. A big feast. And we got precisely one (1) strawberry, which one of my children picked while it was still green. Swell.

And I have every sympathy for myself, because I’m both too cheap and too poor to pay for a $6.00 basket of tiny, worm-ridden “organic” strawberries (God, you’d think someone at the supermarket would weed those suckers out!). My personal strawberry crops being fairly pathetic year after year, I’m pretty sure that the lack of these huge crops would probably mean we’ll be doing without strawberries in large part.

But hey, know what? I can live without them. I really can. I’m about 99% certain that nobody has ever laid down and died because they couldn’t have a strawberry. Especially when having them means I’m giving a wink and nod to the massive use of a chemical that has been proven – not just suspected, not something that once gave your auntie a big old headache so we’re sure it’s got to be evil, not something we must fight purely on the basis that it is produced by – but proven by anybody who cared to take a close look at it (even the researchers!), to be an earth-destroying, person-harming gaseous ball of nasty.

That’s a line we just shouldn’t cross.

Shame on the Gummint for winking at it, for making excuses and telling all these other concerned world citizens that it’s just bad business to do away with it.

Shame on the farmers for continuing to use it – sure, it’s profitable. So is selling crack. Both are controlled substances that cause real, permanent harm to human beings. In fact, I’d argue that this stuff is worse than crack: not only does it harm the human beings, but all the birds and bees and fishes and trees as well.

And shame on us, too, for paying more attention to the price of a basket of strawberries or tomatoes than what is done to make them “affordable.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’m off to research how I can terminate snails and slugs in my (alleged) strawberry beds without the use of pellets my kids will consider a fun addition to their afternoon playtime in the backyard.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Random Thought d’Jour

This is so random. But I was working on That Damned Shawl this morning during my precious (half) hour of morning no-kidness, and it suddenly occurred to me: baby alpaca yarn would make incredible socks for people who don’t walk.

Did your brain just completely freeze up on that? Yes, I know. It seems like a really dumb thing to be thinking and I got a good laugh about it, too.

But back before I had kids (or a husband, for that matter), I used to occasionally go in and volunteer at a retirement home. A lot of the old folks, especially the less-ambulatory ones, would complain about their feet being cold. They’d get all kinds of “medical” socks designed to help keep their feet warm – most of which didn’t keep their feet warm and/or itched like crazy. I don’t know which I hate more: having cold feet, or having itchy feet. But having itchy, cold feet? That’s just got to be a special kind of hell on earth.

And then it occurred to me: A pair of socks made out of the baby alpaca I’m currently working with would keep your feet warm even if you were camping in the Arctic Circle, and there is butter harsher than this stuff. Barring a wool allergy, it couldn’t raise an itch on the newest of babies or the oldest of centenarians. They'd wear out in about six seconds if you actually walked on them, but if you were, say, confined to a wheelchair, or only made about six steps per day from your bed to your easy chair and back again? They’d be perfect.

Soft as cobwebs. Warmer than “plain old” wool. Breathes like cotton.


I wonder how much extra yarn I’m going to have at the end of this project…

OK, that’s my Random Thought d’Jour. Carry on with your lives, people, whilst I ponder the ins and outs of making enough baby alpaca socks (of all things) to keep the non-ambulatory seniors of my home town (who must number in the dozens if not hundreds) from the hideous perils of cold, itchy feet…(Lord, but I do get wildly impractical notions into my head, don’t I?!)

He CAN be taught!

I just got through writing about how Captain Adventure does not deign to talk yet, right? And that he’ll do it when he’s darned good and ready and all that?

Naturally, he must make a liar out of his mommy. So the very next day, as I’m getting him out of his high chair while saying with brightest voice and clearest possible enunciation, “Do you want down? Say, Down, please, Mommy!”, he cuddled into my arms and said, brightly and with clearest possible enunciation…

“Dow pees, muvabrblebababa!”

I immediately called everybody I knew (and a few people I didn’t technically know but who had numbers similar to friends and/or family and/or casual acquaintances) (or who were listed in the phone book), alerted the local media (who, hardened as they are by the unrelenting drama of such stories as sewage leaks flooding a double wide trailer in Western Nowhere and fires that almost might have burned a barn in Eastern Nowhere, were remarkably unimpressed), and wrote to the White House (I hear they send out a congratulatory letter on such occasions, suitable for framing).

And now, I’m sharing with y’all.

He is very pleased at his own success, and repeats it for any and all occasions. If he wants up, “Dow pees!”. If he wants down, “Dow pees!” Juice? “Dow pees!” Crackers? “Dow pees!” A gin and tonic? “Dow pees!”

OK, so we have some vocabulary issues to iron out. Who cares? The boy is finally uttering sounds that can be called words.

Obviously, the kid is destined to be a great orator. A mother can just sorta tell these things…

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Once again, my child is a curve-breaker

I am informed by the weekly newsletter I receive in my inbox for my 15 month old (week 3), that “By 15 months, the majority (about 75 percent) of children have a vocabulary that consists of "Mama" and "Dada" plus at least three other words, usually nouns, such as "cookie," "ball," and "dog."”

Yes, well. My child? Is part of the 25 percent of all babies who are not speaking a single word-as-such by age 15 months (week 3).

Not. One.

Noise, we’ve got. Ba-ba-ba-ba, na-na-na, va-va-va.

But, ba-ba-ba does not mean, say, “bottle” or “boogie” or “fetch me a peeled grape.” It means, uh, ba-ba-ba.

The pediatrician said, “We’d like him to get a hearing test.”

I said, “Ha! HAHAHA! No, that won’t be necessary.”

He hears just fine. He understands words like ‘juice’, ‘snack’, ‘no’, and his own name. He also sings rather well and recognizes the theme songs from his favorite movies from clear upstairs.

He just…does not care to speak to us right now.

I’d be more alarmed, except that Eldest did the same exact thing. I swear, the child did not say more than a word or two ('no' and 'muh-muh') until she was almost eighteen months old, at which point she suddenly toddled over, looked up at me as I was loading the dishwasher and said, clear as a bell, “Mommy, kin I pwease have-it some joos?”

I just about fell over.

And I expect Captain Adventure will do the same thing to me. I’ll probably be sitting there watching Spiffy the Wonder Dog and the Toddler Mafia Take On The Leaky Diaper Monster (again), and he’ll turn to me and say, “You know, mother, I find this to be such a fascinating exploration of the psyche, touching on the depths of our fears around embarrassing bodily fluid eruptions…”

All the same, I’m stepping up my efforts to force him to talk. As is usually the case, the problem with the child comes back to his parents (OK, OK, it comes back to yours truly). I don’t make him talk. He doesn’t have to talk. He doesn’t have to say “up”, because mommy will automatically bend down and pick him up when he tugs at me. He doesn’t have to say, “Joos!” because I will respond to fussiness by running through a checklist in my head: hmm, is it likely to be a) hunger, b) a diaper issue, or c) thirst? Hmm, I’m going to go with ‘c’ – GIVE THE LUCKY WOMAN A GIGGLE, SHE’S RIGHT AGAIN!

Go Mom. Only, see, it does mean that His Most Royal Highness has not had to learn to communicate much. Sure, it’s nice having a personal assistant who spends most of her waking hours fretting about your comfort, health, hygiene and so forth, but at the same time it does create a kind of flabby dependence on your part. I mean, seriously. What would happen to the kid if I got mowed down by an over-caffeinated SUV driver at the school tomorrow? He’d be stuck with Daddy, who while equally in love with his children lacks both the overactive nurturing gene and the Uterus Sensors, which automatically alert me to such things as offspring hunger/thirst, children (my own and others) getting into things that will get them hurt and whether or not it is imperative that they wear socks YES IN THE HOUSE lest lurking cold germs leap under their bare toenails and creep up to their throats, there to wreak havoc for weeks on end.

So I’m trying to make him say ‘up’ instead of just responding to him pawing at my pant legs and yowling. I look down at his misery and say, “Do you want UP? Say UP! UP? UP?!”

And he’s looking at me with an expression of extreme frustration, an expression that clearly says, “Yes, I want UP you astonishing twit! What part of my leg-pawing and wailing is hard for you to understand?!”

Undaunted, I continue to ask him if he wants, you know, UP.

In the back of my mind, however, I know that there is one unshakeable truth: My child will start to talk when he’s damned good and ready, and not one (1) moment sooner. Leading a horse to water and all that – I can work it all I want, but he will not purse up those adorable little lips and spit out the simple word “up” until he feels the urge from deep within his soul.

At which point, after spending days, weeks, or even months stressing out over getting the kid to say his first word…you know what?

I’ll spend the next twenty years trying to get him to be quiet for one damned minute so I can hear myself think.

It just ain’t fair, I tell you, it just ain’t fair…

Friday, November 11, 2005

Holidiay Decor

Yesterday when I picked up Boo Bug, she (and all her classmates) came out proudly clutching a pinecone turkey. Yes, one of those. Googly eyed, stuck all over with pieces of mix-matched construction paper and cheap, dyed feather festooned, she bore it with all the pride of a hostess presenting the perfectly roasted, 25 pound Thanksgiving Dinner with All The Trimmings version.

Now, I will admit that a pinecone turkey was somewhere very, very near the bottom of the list of things I was hoping to have in the house. And when I saw her coming out the door with one, I repressed a groan of dismay. Ugh. Pinecone turkey. Swell.

But there are two things I strive to do – no matter how bad my day, no matter how in a hurry I may be or how little I feel like it or how much I’d really rather be snoring my afternoon away on a nice, quiet sofa somewhere.

One: Greet my child as though I am damned thrilled to be picking her up now, and

Two: Always, always, always admire her talents

So, after the joyful cries of, “There you are! Did you have fun!?”, I turned my attention to the pinecone turkey.

It was staring at me, an insipid gaze from the googly eyes. The feathers wafted gently in the afternoon breeze. The construction paper beak wiggled slightly as I picked it up to, uh, admire it.

It is, in a word, ugly. And I swear I heard it chuckle as I thought, in great dismay, Oh Lord, I’m going to have to find someplace to put this thing…

But I admired the colorfulness of its feathers and the cuteness of the googly eyes and the expressive use of color squiggles and my daughter looked up at me with huge, excited, worshipful eyes.

“I made it for YOU!” she shouted gladly, again and again, as we skipped our way across the parking lot to the van.

It is currently sitting, with pride and dignity (or at least, as much dignity as is possible for a creature sporting googly eyes), in the middle of my formal dining room table. The “good” table. Yes, that’s right! I have a pinecone turkey with bright pink and orange and blue feathers gracing the holiday table!!

And I love it. Because every time I look at it, I don’t see the stupid pinecone bird with its ridiculous accoutrements.

I see her enormous eyes, her brilliant smile, the excitement on her little face because her art had been so well received by one of the few critics who really matter to her; I can feel her little hand in mine, hear her lisping voice singing “I made it for YOU!”, wrap myself up in the memory of her happy hug and preserve these fleeting moments of her too-brief preschool years.

There could be no better decoration for my holidays than that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

ACK! OCD Part II!!

Danger Mouse had some M&Ms the other night, a little Halloween-sized bag of them. She’s a candy-loving kind of kid. Sweet tooth – CHECK.

Anyway, so she’s eating those M&Ms about as fast as is humanly possible. And I’m doing other things. And she’s still eating them.

And then…

I looked over…

And she had six green M&Ms in front of her.

What are the chances, I asked myself, that my daughter just happened to end up with only green M&Ms?

“Danger Mouse, um, did you, uh, sort your M&Ms by color?” I asked carefully.

“Oh yes. I like to eat them by the colors.”


I have given my child my M&M OCD. I don’t even know how, because I don’t buy M&Ms in regular life, and thinking back can’t recall ever having eaten M&Ms in front of her. It isn’t that I can say I haven’t, but I can’t remember doing so.

In other words, this is not like the mommy monkey teaching her offspring to use a stick to fish termites out of a log for din-dins.

This is like some weird genetic knowledge my daughter has acquired.

Must. Eat. M&Ms. By. Color.

Every time I think they aren’t really my kids but are rather Mutant Aliens™ dropped here by the planet Zogworbhspblatt to observe human beings (namely the DH and myself) under conditions of severe stress, they do something like this, proving beyond a doubt there is, in fact, a true genetic link between us.

My Dear Fellow Parents

I need all of us to slow down. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Take another. Aaah. Out. Nice, huh?

Let’s think about something here, OK? Let’s think about ten minutes and the various ways it can go by.

If I’m going to sit down with a cup of coffee and the newspaper for ten minutes, it goes by in a flash.

If, however, I’m sitting in my car at a dropoff line waiting for the cars in front of me to move, ten minutes is an eternity! Longer! It is a maddening, frustrating, horrific, oughta-be-a-law-agin-it length of time.

Same length of time. Same number of seconds have tick-tocked past. But one is a too-short burst of pleasure, while the other is a painful reminder of just how little time we have on this planet for more pleasurable things.

In other words, it is a matter of attitude, of perception. In which case…it is up to us to decide which we’re going to be. (Damn that personal responsibility crap!!)

Now. Let us turn our attention to the second case. We are sitting in the pickup line at school, waiting for our adorable offspring to sally forth. It is 11:50. They will come out at 12:00.

Walking down the line of cars and suggesting that other parents pull their vehicles into the red zone to make more room in the parking lot will not magically turn 11:50 into 12:00. The children are still not emerging from the classroom. Which means that not one of these cars ahead of you will be budging, for ten more minutes.

In point of fact, the people who were ahead of you, who are now sitting in the illegal red zone…are still ahead of you. They are still in your way. You have gained nothing. The parking lot is still full. There is still nowhere to go. Only now, they blocking both you AND any emergency vehicles which ($DEITY forbid) need to come down that fire lane.

It is still 11:50, and you still must wait ten minutes for the traffic to begin to move. It has far more to do with the planet’s rotation than it does with whether or not someone is blocking the fire lane to create more room back in the pickup line.

Take a deep breath. There you go. And another. Because I’m about to tell you something very, very depressing.

You will be doing this, Oh Mother of Only One Child Who Just Started Preschool At Whom We Mothers of Many Laugh Every Time You Open Your Mouth to Tell Us How Horrible and Unacceptable This Situation Is, for the next ten, twelve years – easy.

Yes! That’s right!! Ten times per week, for forty weeks of the year, you will be facing this “unmitigated nightmare” of People In Front Of You Going Nowhere. Here. Have a sip of water. It’ll be OK. Just sit there and breathe for a minute.

You have four ways of dealing with it.

Arrive early! This way, you can be the person blocking the whole parking lot, instead of being the caboose.

Arrive late! This way, you rush into the emptied parking lot, snatch your child and run for it, almost without even slowing down!

Suck it up and bring a book (or your knitting)! This way, you can create of this horror a ten minute oasis in the middle of your day.

Or, finally, don’t deal with it at all! Walk! Bus! Park in the overflow lot and hike the crummy hundred feet! That way, you don’t have to deal with us at all – you can zip right on out and be on your merry way, regardless of what the regular lot is doing! (Why more parents don’t do this is beyond me, actually, especially if you’ve only got one kid in tow…on those rare occasions when I’ve only got one kid with me, I am there!!)

And all that be said, may I point out: We were all gone – every single one of us – within precisely eight minutes of the bell ringing. All of us. The ‘unacceptably’ huge line, the horde, the ‘impossibly backed up’ parking lot was empty by 12:08.

Think about it. Think about how you would have felt if you had only been given eight minutes for a bubble bath, or eight minutes for a cocktail, or eight minutes with a good book.

Speaking of which, seriously? Bring a book. Bring a craft. The newspaper. Good tunes. A coffee and a chocolate bar. Slow it down, take it easy, enjoy this time. Make it such that instead of chomping at the bit you’re groaning, “Aw, MAN! I was just getting to the good part!!” when the cars start moving.

Because let’s face it: most of us are not rushing off to endless Fun and Excitement. No way. Most of us are picking up our darlings and heading home to the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the endless nitpicking little stupid things we fill our lives with and consider ever-so-important because otherwise we’d think our lives somewhat shallow and empty and full of endless hours that need filling.

If for no other reason, enjoy it just to spite the Demon of Niggling Little Irritations. Don’t worry. He’s used to it. Might even get a laugh out of it. Right after he sets every single traffic light on your route home to turn red…

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

OK, now, really...

...I need to go make something for dinner. Not keep playing around with font sizes and colors and stuff.'s so cool with the code-speak and stuff. This background? This one, right here? #FCFCFC. Not to be confused with, say, #F7F7F7, or even #FFFFF.

They might seem exactly the same, but they're not. Oh no. They're not.

Whatever. It's white. Ish. A little cooler than white-white, with a touch of gray. According to theory.

None of which is getting that stupid chicken cooked, is it.

Which is not nearly as sexy as trying to decide whether #7C7B8C or #8C8C8C makes for a better header color...

How's this one?

Testing...testing...having fun with template colors...

Monday, November 07, 2005

The shawl hates me

I’m serious.

That Irish Diamond Shawl?

It hates me.

It does not want to be knit.

I’m serious.


Well, actually – I’ve given up and cast on a ‘quickie’ preemie sweater to donate to Stitches from the Heart. Because I can do that one in my sleep. Blindfolded. With NPR, Scooby Doo, children and husband all blathering on in the background. While sitting on a tack ignoring the fire alarm, which is what I use instead of a timer for cooking purposes.

I have done so because the shawl is going to make me crazy if I keep trying to work on it while all the above is happening. Not only have I had to tear out one, two or three rows to get back to where the boo boo is, but I’ve had to do it repeatedly. Because I get distracted, and the lace looks like a plate full of Top Ramon on the needles, so I get two or seven rows further along before suddenly I look at it and go, “Um, whoa. That ain’t right…”

And tearing out lace…well, I’m getting to where I’d rather tear out my fingernails than tear out another row. I’d rather tink* it.

Each row takes almost half an hour to knit now. HALF AN HOUR! PER ROW!! I’m close, oh so very tantalizingly close…a mere twenty three rows stand between me and the blocking of this project. Which is only about twelve hours. IF and ONLY IF!! I can, for the next twenty three rows, not screw up which row I’m on or get off on my counting or some other damned stupid thing!!!

To Which End, I have Herewith Decreed that I shall only work on this project in the dead of night or the wee hours between Husband Departure and Child(ren) Awakening, when I can focus.

Between times – it’s socks, baby sweaters or (another) stupid baby blanket.

Anything else is just begging for a long stint at a mental institution. And I’m both too poor and too cheap to go to one of those plush places where one is fed cappuccino during one’s therapy session and gets good drugs on demand. I’d end up in one of the ones where screaming lunatics bawl their angst day and night, slam their furniture against the locked door and paint the walls with their porridge.

And gee. I’ve already got all that right here at home…

*tink: the process of ‘undoing’ stitches one by one – ‘knit’ spelled backward and possibly the biggest PITA** in the knitting world

** Pain In The Ass***

***Which here means ‘rear end’ rather than ‘donkey’****

****Human rear end, not a donkey’s*****

***** Although what the heck difference it really makes is beyond me; I imagine that a pain in a donkey’s behind would be worse than a pain in a human behind simply because of the size difference. I mean serious – a donkey has a lot more behind to have a pain in than the average human…

Attention, attention, attention

According to my Babycenter weekly email, I can rest assured that my child is (still) perfectly normal when he clings, whines, screams, chirps, whistles and shrieks at me all day and all night.

Isn’t that comforting?

Yes, they tell me, “If your 15-month-old has started sounding like a hyena or worse, you're experiencing his intense desire to interact with you.”

Which, of course, makes it all good, right? My adorable little pumpkin has an intense desire to interact with me – that’s good, right? Right? RIGHT?!?!

OK, seriously – yes, it is good. I’m still #1 around here. Mommy is da man (slangily speaking). And his desires are simple. All he wants is my constant and undivided attention, 24/7.

That’s all.

Captain Adventure has many ways of getting my attention. Generally, he starts with the more adorable methods. Chirping, singing, running up to me and staring intently up at me until he gets eye contact, then laughing and clapping and dancing in place to express his approval of my cleverness in noticing Himself, the Center of the Universe.

Meanwhile, his sisters have evolved their methods of attention getting. Boo Bug does a great body-slam, accompanied by a wrestling/climbing/clinging skill a jujitsu master would envy. She also babbles, pretty much nonstop, from morning to night. I now understand why parents sometimes ‘tune out’ their kids, to the point where they are blissfully unaware that their horrid children are making life a living hell for all around them. Because I do that with Boo Bug, frequently. After four straight hours of her little piping voice blathering on and on and on about bugs and toys and juice and shirts and dresses and socks and a blow-by-blow of what Captain Adventure is doing and whether or not fairies are in the backyard and how come the neighbor is walking on the street…well, one gets a little glazed over.

Danger Mouse can let loose a wail that sounds remarkably like someone has driven a fire truck into the house. Unfortunately, this does not generally result in the attention she’d like. It tends to result in a shout of, “TAKE THAT NOISE UPSTAIRS!! COME BACK WHEN YOU CAN TALK TO ME IN WORDS!!!” (But of course, trying to ‘use words’ in a conversational manner around here is like trying to discuss philosophy over a glass of nice wine in a sawmill…)

Eldest, of course, is developing more adult-like methods. She’s learned to wait for lulls in the constant roar of noise, and to ensure she has your attention before she starts talking (a common mistake from the younger siblings, who begin asking for things while they have their little backs to you and then get upset because you didn’t even realize they were talking). Unfortunately, she still hasn’t quite gotten to the level of understanding timing. For example, asking Mommy for a soda while she is running around getting towels to clean up the four gallon puddle of milk she just spilled? Probably not a great idea.

Sometimes, I long for the days to come – when my children don’t want a damned thing to do with me. When they’re all in school, most of the day, and have little to say when they get home instead of having to tell me Every Little Thing that happened that day (“…and then Bobby burped and Elsie said ‘Excuse YOU!’ and he burped again so Ms. Whittiker told him to stop it and THEN…!”). When I’ll be able to sit down during the afternoon in a quiet house and do something, without the constant threat of attack from the Toddler Mafia.

Other times, I dread their approach – especially when ‘at school’ becomes ‘away at college’ or ‘grown and flown.’ When the noise is replaced by a silence that isn’t fleeting. When my attention is not so important; maybe nice to have, but not needed.

Yes, those will be sad, lonely days spent in utter stillness, with nothing to do but plan where to eat that night and which movie we might want to catch…

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I had only about three long sleeved shirts that had survived last winter, one of which was not machine washable (which means that I had only two long sleeved shirts to fend off the increasing chill). So I went to Goodwill to hunt for some. I found four machine washable long sleeved warm shirts/sweaters, one of which is a gloriously sexy, warm, cuddly Gloria Vanderbilt sweater-shirt that is going to be like wrapping oneself up in a steamy warm cup of Godiva-like hot cocoa.

But that (and the fact that all four shirts cost me $10) is not what I’m writing about.

I’m writing about the True Score: one (1) copy of Alice Starmore’s Sweaters for Men, in darned near pristine condition (considering it is 16 years old).

What’s that price again? What’s that lowest price on Amazon? $43.87?

Bwa-ha-ha-ha. This copy was $1.

Let me just say that again. Repeatedly.

One dollah.
One Tattered George Washington.
Four quarters.
Ten dimes.
A measly buck.

Forgive me an avaricious chuckle. Heh heh heh heh heh.

No pages torn. No writing in it. Dust jacket intact. It looks like nobody has ever even opened it.

Mine, all mine…

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out

Back in April, I bought some shares of a company called Nabi Biopharmaceuticals for just a hair over $10 a share.

I sold them in July for just shy of $15. I sold them for two reasons: I couldn’t find a solid reason for their upward tear (other than what is sometimes called “pin action” – meaning that they were going up because some other stock {cough GENETECH cough} was), and because they were at that time, IMHO and oft wrong opinion, overvalued at $15.

So, I sold them. And they promptly jumped up to $16. And then they hovered around the $15 mark. Then they began drifting…drifting…down…down…

Until Halloween, when they fell a painful 69% from almost $13 to just under $4.


So what happened? Well, they had this vaccine that looked promising for treating/preventing staph infections. Only then, see, well, you know how they do those trial-thingees? You know, the things that Genetech keeps doing where they announce, “Hey! Not only does it do what we thought it would, it also cures the common cold and waxes your car!”

Only this time…the announcement was, “Uh. It sorta…doesn’t work. At all. Not one bit. So we’re going to stop developing it. And the other one, too.”

Gee, what was that sound? It sounded like…all the air being sucked rapidly out of their market capitalization numbers…

They had said, not once but many times, that they were “85% sure” their vaccine would work. And now, with failure in hand, people are pointing at them and mocking. THIS is your 85% sure? THIS is your sure-bet? THIS is what happens, when you were 85% sure that this would work out?!


As much as I’d like to jump on that bandwagon, I just can’t. Because I’ve made some sweeping, grandiose statements and claims in my time and been dead wrong. I’ve been 99% sure that I could get “it” done by Tuesday. I was 95% sure that Danger Mouse would be a boy. I’ve been confident that I could get my family by on $20 a day (ahem) and that I could just say no to a bowl full of potato chips (well, I would have, if there hadn’t been that French onion dip…).

From how much macaroni and cheese my kids would eat for dinner to whether or not I could decipher a four hundred page tome of numbers by Friday, I’ve been confident – and wrong – more times than I care to remember.

So, I’m sorry it didn’t work out for them. I empathize with the awkward situation they now find themselves in, with all those fingers pointing and all those shareholders snarking and all the pain and suffering they are obviously in.

I’m glad I’m not directly sharing it. Although I am, indirectly. Not altogether surprisingly (there was recently some gift-giving funny business between parties of the first and second parts here, and the stock itself had been downgraded in the Tama Rating System from ‘Promising’ to ‘Vegas’), another of my stocks has lost one of only three major clients and has tanked by a (further) 20% today. First Marblehead, you’re killing my wallet, dudes!!

Ah well. Just another day on one of the busiest Streets in the world, eh?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Look ma, I'm an Action Hero!

You scored as Maximus. After his family was murdered by the evil emperor Commodus, the great Roman general Maximus went into hiding to avoid Commodus's assassins. He became a gladiator, hoping to dominate the colosseum in order to one day get the chance of killing Commodus. Maximus is valiant, courageous, and dedicated. He wants nothing more than the chance to avenge his family, but his temper often gets the better of him.



William Wallace


Captain Jack Sparrow


Lara Croft


Indiana Jones


Neo, the "One"


El Zorro


The Amazing Spider-Man


James Bond, Agent 007


The Terminator


Batman, the Dark Knight


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

Temper? Me? Well, I…well…I mean…well…uh…

OK. I have a temper. But I take exception to Captain Jack Sparrow being 3rd on the list.

Personally, I think I’d make an excellent pirate captain. I’m no Robin Hood. I’ll take from the richer-than-me and keep it, thanks. If you want some of the booty, you can join the damned crew and do your share of the work. Or, you can make or sell rum. THEN I’ll give you some of my coinage. Matey.

Ah yes. “Rum+sun+sea+beach = the good life”. Oh yeah. I would’ve totally shot the woman for burning up all the rum. “B-but, WHY is the RUM gone?!” !!BANG!!

Oh dear. There’s that temper again…

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A yucky score…

I ordered some stuff from Just assorted this-n-that, some space bags for my yarn stash, some kid shampoo, and…four bottles of Method laundry detergent because it was on sale. Usually $8, now $6.75? SHIP IT! (Lord, I love the ‘fresh air’ fragrance – I’ll buy darned near anything that smells strongly or lightly of lavender!)

So last night (yes, on Halloween!) a UPS truck roared up, dumped a huge box on my porch and fled.

This morning, I opened the huge box. Hmm. That’s weird. I’ve never known Drugstore to put a little box in a big green plastic bag, and then put that into a bigger box…wait a second…pungency?...outer box does not say all over it?…inner box is darkened with some kind of liquid damage!?!?!...

One of those bottles of Method had sprung a leak and oozed half its contents all over the inside of the box.


Now, everything in the box except for that one bottle of detergent and was OK – just needed a good rinsing off. Irritating, but not fatal. But still! So I got on the horn with Drugstore and, after the all-too-typical maze of can’t-get-past-it voice mail (if you’d like more help, say ‘help’, if you’d like to hear our return policy say ‘return’ if you want to hear our jingle again, say ‘jingle’…four hours later, you finally get the option of saying ‘agent’ – and if you try to say ‘agent’ before that, the pleasant female voice says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that – would you please repeat it?” ARGH!)

But eventually, I got an agent.

About five minutes later, I got an email saying that a new bottle of Method and fireplace log were on their say, 2nd day shipping.


Yes, it was irritating and yes, on the whole, I’d rather have just opened the box, put stuff away and gone on with my life.

But I just have to say, I’m darned pleased with their response. It’s about the first pleasant customer service experience I’ve had since…uh…well…hmm. Seems like any time I’ve had a problem with an Internet purchase, I’ve either ended up sending endless emails without response, or sat on hold for hours and hours only to be told something like, “Oh, well, you would need to send it all back to us by, uh, yesterday – as it clearly states (in three point font somewhere on page 400 of our disclosures) on our website, if you don’t return it the same day you get it, we aren’t responsible for it.”

Essentially, in exchange for a shriek of “EEEEEEW!”, a few minutes spent rinsing off assorted bottles, and a call to an 800 number, I’m getting a ‘free’ half bottle of Method.

Given that I will spend thirty minutes (or more) sharing my opinion of such fascinating topics as baby wipes for $5, that’s a darned good deal.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Score one for the health nut!

Well, OK. I’m not really a health nut. But shockingly, I have joined the ranks of parents who, for the last hundred years, have been appalled by sending children who haven’t eaten anything reasonable for dinner into the mean, sugar-coated streets on Halloween.

I remember my own mother’s futile attempts to get us to eat something – anything! – before we went out on our annual rampage. She’d make hamburgers, she’d make macaroni and cheese, she’d make all kinds of things in a vain attempt to get us to eat something that wasn’t chocolate coated or candy shelled.

No dice.

We’d push the food around on our plates watching anxiously as darkness gathered, whining about the loss of good trick or treating time, about how all our friends would have gone on without us, wincing and muttering and shooting her dark glances every time other kids rang the bell and shouted out the gladsome ‘TRICK OR TREAT!!’.

Eventually, she’d give up and let us go. Growling and scowling over our untouched plates, and threatening us with Dire Consequences if we ate so much as a single candy bar before we came home and had some peas or something.

Yeah, right. Not even invoking all the starving children in Africa or China could induce us to eat food on Halloween. Talk to us on All Saint’s, then we were starving. But on the Hallowed E’en? Fuhgettaboutit. Food? Food? Who needs food, when there’s all that candy out there!

I don’t know why I expect my kids to be any different. But still, I try. I try to get them to eat dinner, which three nights out of seven they turn their adorable little noses up at anyway – let alone on such a night, such a grand and glorious night of Promised Gluttony.

But I thought I’d give it a try, anyway.

So I made mini meatloaves, using a cupcake pan.

Then, I made mashed potatoes, which I dyed green, yellow and blue and put into bags tipped with my Wilton goodies (which, after all, I paid good money for and ought to use now and again).

And I made meatloaf cupcakes. With mashed potato frosting. And ketchup spritzes.

I didn’t expect much. I really didn’t. Apart from a little shrieking and giggling, I did not expect my kids to actually, you know, eat the things. I expected they might scrape the mashed potatoes off and play with them, but eat them? Naw, not really.

And I really did not expect to be confronted with not one, not two, but three clean plates (well, five – but Daddy and me, we’re sort of a given when it comes to meatloaf and mashed potatoes!) (and one tray – Captain Adventure also approves of meatloaf) (mashed potatoes, however, are best used to decorate one’s chest and face).

Even Boo Bug, our little ‘vegetarian’ who turns her nose up at most forms of meat, ate her meatloaf with great relish.

Well, I’ll be. Without firing a single ‘there are children starving in Ethiopia, you know!’, I won the battle.

Woo hoo! With protein and starch on board, they have gone off with daddy to see just how much candy three little girls can acquire in the limited time before no really I mean it, bedtime, while mommy puts her feet up between door bell rings and ponders why it is that colored mashed potatoes simply taste better than plain-old ones…

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Always good to have help…

This morning, I broke one of my favorite bowls. I have had this set of nested glass bowls for at least ten years now, and they’ve been one of those “what a great purchase!” purchases. Used daily and so forth and so on.

I broke one a while back, and have mourned the loss ever since. It was, naturally, one of the most useful bowls in the set, the one that was just right for rising bread or mixing things that were “sloppy” – enough room to prevent sloppage but not so huge that it was hard to handle. Then, this morning, the stars aligned themselves juuuuuuuuust right and…as I was just beginning to lift them out to get at the ‘just right’ one for scrambling half a dozen eggs…

Captain Adventure let out a shriek that sounded as though someone was driving an ice pick into his ear
Eldest came skidding into the kitchen babbling in Shriek Voice about something to do with Boo Bug not having buttons on her sweater
I jumped (I did not hear her coming before suddenly she was upon me!)
My wrists, which have been a bit annoyed with me about all the knitting, holding Captain Adventure (have I mentioned he weighs 24 pounds now? have I? have I? HAVE I?!) and writing longhand last weekend, chose that precise moment to give me a stab of honest-to-goodness pain

I am proud to say that, in the presence of the ever-attentive Eldest, what I said was literally, “Gosh DARN it all to HECK!!!”

Followed by the barked command of, “Out! OUT!” as I surveyed the swatch of destruction across my kitchen floor. Not one, but TWO of my remaining glass bowls lay in varying degrees of flesh-slashing shards from one end of the kitchen to the other.


But that’s not what I’m writing about this morning.

I’m writing about having help.

Inspired by the loss of the three most useful bowls in the set, I decided I needed to replace the set. I sat down for a moment and began noting down the things that need replacing around here, so that if and when I get around to it, I can get/order everything at once.

Then I got up, leaving it lying there while I raced around making lunches and snacks and finding “lost” shoes and jackets and nagging children into putting same onto their bodies. (WHY will they go through their closet, shivering the whole time, and pick out the one (1) sleeveless dress that is still in there?! WHY?! Crazy little creatures…)

Having now completed the first school circuit of the day, and the younger two kids being settled with toys and music, I stuck my coffee in the microwave and picked up my half-begun list to find that I had had a little help.

In case I had forgotten, this is a Shopping List.

Thank you, Eldest.

Now, be a dear, won't you, run to the store and find them for mommy? Preferably on sale, decent brands, pick up your siblings from school and bring me back a mocha while you're at it...?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Peace and Quiet

I just got back from a weekend retreat at (now, don’t you laugh!) Shinneyboo Creek.

I had two and a half days of {gasp!} Peace and Quiet. I almost didn’t know what to do about it. It took me most of Friday to get used to the idea that nobody was going to leap out from under the bed shrieking, “MOMMY!!!!”

I left Friday morning, and got Sunday afternoon. I spent the entire time alternating hiking along the river with reading Joseph Campbell and, of course, knitting. I’m making the Irish Diamond Shawl (this is not me modeling it, I only wish, but I am about, oh, nowhere near done) (related note: this sucker starts out at 79 stitches and then increases 40 stitches per pattern repeat until it ends up at a whopping 672+) (but it is oh-so-fun to knit…and I’ve wanted to for about three years now…and I’ve had the yarn and everything for all that time…and it’s just ever-so-delightful to be actually {gasp} doing it!).

But I digress.

Usually, when I take these little breaks from duty and dedication, that’s all it is. I take the break. I’m gone for a day, two days, a weekend, and then I come home and I feel better and less “prickly” and I pick it all up and off we go.

This, however, was something…completely different.

I would say I spent the vast majority of this time knitting, and thinking. They go hand in hand, knitting and thinking. The act of knitting is physical and linear: purl 2, knit 2, yarn over, repeat 4 times, end knit 6 [flip] repeat…repeat…repeat…

It busies that part of the mind that is concerned with lists, with order, with ‘next’. You know – that part that always crops up while you’re trying to do your yoga exercise, while you’re trying to envision your third chakra blossoming or trying to have a sincere talk with Jesus or what-have-you, interjecting something inane and off-topic like, “I must remember to have Jimbo clear the leaves from the gutter” or “…and eggs, I think we’re about out of eggs, and maybe some nice asparagus to go with the trout and…”

That part that will never shut up, in other words.

Knitting shuts it up. It is absorbed in the counting, the careful guarding against split yarn, the watching of the pattern to ensure no mistakes are made (which will show in the lace!).

Meanwhile, the rest of the mind, the part that talks freely with God, the part that knows but cannot express what one really hopes and dreams, is able to finally get a word in edgewise.

You know…it’s been a long time since that part of my mind has had a chance to say anything.

It was pretty chatty, too. Had a lot of comments about all sorts of things, but I think the one thing I came away with was a refocusing of my energy toward a dream my husband and I share, but have always sort of downplayed and “yeah, right, and then I shall fly to Mars! Because I am their Queen!” sort of way.

I’ll share all about it, in a little bit. I’m still processing, and honestly it’s a little weird and ‘out there’, even for me. It scares the spit out of me to even think about actually going for it, and at the same time it is so exciting to me, so cool and It Could Not Be Better Than This that it’s worth dreaming about and fighting for.

But – I’ve got one kid hollering for his nap right when it’s time to go and get another kid from school. And then a one hour break, and then we pick up Kid #2. Swell. At what point does Mr. Man get his nap…?


Welcome back to the Den of Chaos, Mommy. Hope you had a good rest, because babe – you’re gonna need it!!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tendering my resignation

I am herewith tendering my resignation from modern life, because of something I just read in Real Simple magazine. YES! The same people who brought me the ‘wash the lampshades every six months or so’ directives just shared this little gem with me, which I am misquoting shamelessly due to being too damned lazy to go look at the magazine again: Dryer sheets and fabric softener remnants can cause “invisible sludge” to form on your dryer’s lint screen – so you ought to wash it with hot soapy water and a nylon brush every so often.

First I thought, Oh crap. I’ve owned that dryer for seven years now, and I have never once cleaned the lint screen that way – only peeled the lint off it and dumped it in the trash! And I trotted right over and pulled it out, and scrubbed the damned thing with soapy warm water and my trusty nylon brush. And, I guess I must confess, a lot of dirty water came off that lint screen.

But then, as I was setting it on the windowsill to dry and thinking, Hmm, that reminds me, I need to wash the Dyson filter, too… it suddenly struck me.

I just washed the dryer lint screen.

My mom was pretty Old Dutch in her cleaning style, yet I don’t remember her ever scrubbing the lint screen on our antiquated old dryer. Nor did she ever instruct me to do so, and I think at some point in my teenage years I was instructed to do just about every single household chore that could be dreamed up by a mother – even one or two that were probably just gags.

Let’s just take a look at some of the other little gems that pop up in my task list, shall we?

We have washing / drying the Dyson filter: every 3 months
And the lampshades, dusted weekly and washed semi-annually
The monthly running of the empty dishwasher with a quart of vinegar; the monthly running of the empty washing machine with a healthy dose of bleach; and the cleaning of the inside of the dryer while we’re at it
Let us not forget to spray the entire perimeter of the house with pest-repellant, monthly
The yearly cleansing of the carpets by professionals
The semi-annual scrubbing of the stove filter
Fridge coils…Re-sealing the tile grout in the hall and kitchen counters…Emptying and cleaning out the cupboards, and laying down new contact paper…Disinfecting the fridge / freezers…Disinfecting the microwave…Cleaning the window tracks…Washing the blinds…Vacuum and flip the mattresses…

AND NOW, we have ‘wash the dryer lint screen’?

Wait just a doggone minute, here.

At some point, we have just got to draw the line.

That’s it. The apron, my friends, is off.

I am going to shut this thing down, wash the Dyson filter only because if I don’t I will be thinking about it all freakin’ weekend, make myself a cup of tea (or something) and sit with my knitting watching my children frolic (OK, attempt to kill each other – but ‘frolic’ just sounds so much nicer, doesn’t it?) until my husband gets home.

And then, I’m going to paint my toenails. Yes. Yes, I am. While any number of essential household tasks go unperformed, I am going to put a mauve-ish paint on my tired old dogs and pretend it makes them look “perky.”

So there.