Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Choices and Options

Six weeks ago, I made arrangements to take today and tomorrow off. As in, not working. Not as a database analyst, nor as CEO/CFO/COO of the Den. The idea was, for two days I was going to not have anybody bugging me for anything.

Naturally…I had to return a phone call this morning. And then there was this other thing, and then Eldest erupted with a sudden fever and had to stay home (and will likely be home again tomorrow while daddy is at the office, so much for a spa visit) AND THEN Danger Mouse managed to have a clothes-ruining accident at school such that she had to be picked up right when I was trying to get out of town (or at least to a nice, safe cofee shop) after having spent over an hour getting the oil changed in the car.

Sounding good so far?!

Sometimes I really do wonder what would happen if I got hit by a train. Apart from the whole ‘excruciating pain and probably death’ part, I mean. That part would suck. And I am a major wuss, so I don’t really do the ‘pain’ part. And the death part would suck, too, because shoot – I’d miss the next really cool part.

Which is why even though I often get results from online quizzes that say, “Dear God, Woman! RUN to your doctor and make an appointment YOU ARE SO FAR INTO DEPRESSION SUNK THAT THERE IS LITTLE HOPE FOR YOU WITHOUT THERAPY AND PROBABLY LOTS OF MEDICATION!”, I cannot accept the diagnosis. Because while I may be down quite frequently, and feeling abused, and otherwise finding myself in a funk, I am always telling myself to buck up – there’s still plenty of Good Stuff ahead, once I get through this little black cloudy bit.

And then? I’M RIGHT! There’s laughter! And big cards my children drew that say things like “I love you mommy” with big hearts and pictures of us dancing in fields of flowers! And my husband praises and thanks me for all the stuff I do around here! And we go to the zoo or something and I get cotton candy!!

AND LIFE IS SO GOOD I COULD JUST ABOUT CRY!!!!

Then I get down on my knees and say a few words to $DEITY about how grateful I am that I do not suffer real depression, the kind where you can’t keep your head up and wait for better times you know are coming, because to suffer that endless cloud enveloping your whole body everywhere you go, all the time, would be hell.on.earth.

But I digress.

Anyway, if I did manage to fall under the wheels of the 5:05 commuter express, I envision my family just sort of sitting in a smelly pile of dirty dishes and laundry, slowly starving to death because none of them can figure out the mystery that is…{spooky music} the supermarket {/spooky music}.

So here I am, not doing what I had hoped to be doing, which was giving things a good, hard think. I get about this far, “I wonder if I could…” and then?

Phone ringing. Husband blabbing. Child crying. What about lunch? Did I have any ideas about dinner? Hey, wasn’t I supposed to do this or that or the other? Had I made arrangements for this other thing?!

@*^&@!!!!!!!

The Universe is thwarting me. That’s right! The whole Universe, the whole Big Thing, is going out of its way to thwart me, personally.

Typical.

*sniff, sniff*

I’m so abused.

But seriously? In a way, this is really driving home a point: My Den, my family, my whole pathetic life, has moved beyond Chaos into Nihilism.

Nobody, not a single Denizen, is happy right now. Everybody is angry, sick, miserable, not sleeping well, and otherwise walking around with raw nerves poking out every which way. And it has been this way not for days or weeks, but for months.

I have the best possible job situation for a Mother of Chaos with four little ones underfoot and a Den to manage, and yet it isn’t working out. We’re physically exhausted, emotionally wrung out, and financially not doing nearly as well as you’d think. Between childcare and taxes, I’m really not taking home all that much – but putting an awful lot of huff and bother and stress into the mix to get it.

Now, I told you that so I could tell you this: This right here is the whole reason why approaching your life in a ‘sustainable’ manner is so vital.

People, I have options. We can still get by on my husband’s income alone.

We.
Have.
Options.

It makes me feel sick inside whenever I hear someone whose job is sucking their soul right out their eyeballs say they can’t quit because of {dramatic music} the bills {/dramatic music}.

They can’t quit because…

…even a lapse of a few days in pay would be disastrous…

…they make more money at this job than they could elsewhere, and they need every dime. They can’t sacrifice $5,000 a year because it is literally the difference between staying on top and drowning beneath their minimum payments…

…it isn’t like there’s anything better out there, after all, when you’re a Pipe Cleaner Fluffer, it isn’t like you can go up the street to a competitors and have better working conditions…


I’m not talking about people who have suffered a run of really bad luck here, the people who are recovering from medical issues and the bills that can bring, or whose houses were swept away by flood or fire, or like that. Nor am I talking about people who are just getting their feet wet in the pond of Life.

I’m talking about…well, folks like me. Folks who view a credit card line increase as a kind of pay raise, who buy cars they can’t afford on the theory that they only live once, who take splendid vacations once, twice, twelve times a year either on the cards or by using their house as an ATM.

And then…find themselves trapped in jobs they loathe or situations they’d love to leave, because they can barely keep their heads above water as it is and the slightest breath of the Winds of Change will drown them faster than you can say Default APR.

I wish I had a magic wand that could *poof* away everybody’s issues and give everybody what I have now – but I have to say, it wouldn’t work. I had not one but two *poofs* granted to me before I had to take care of it the old fashioned way, and I learned precisely nada. All I did was dig myself in deeper.

I guess the process is part of the cure. Well. And for me, I got a major kick in the pants when the Denizens started coming along. The realization that the impact of my actions were no longer limited to me, but that my children were likewise being set up for success or failure based on what I did today…whoa.

Paradigm shift, y’all.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I really don’t. I’m sitting on that fence like it was a tame pony, one leg on either side and my butt firmly planted in the middle. On the one hand, I hate to give up the income, the retirement savings, the social security building. On the other hand…I don’t like what my Den is becoming.

Chaos is OK. Chaos is my personal normal. But nihilism is ugly, scary, and other negative things. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

And I suspect I prefer Chaos and a painfully tight budget to Nihilism and…well…a painfully tight budget…

Monday, January 29, 2007

…and then it was Monday

I finished the baby blanket last night. And one and a half infant socks, which really are like instant gratification. I also finished two hats and ran in the ends on the preemie sweater:

Preemie Goodies

This weekend went by altogether too fast. Like, {blink!} HEY! Whaddya mean it’s over?!?!

And then? It was Monday. I had to get back to Real Life again. So I did, and then things happened, and suddenly I’m looking at the clock saying, “Dang, it’s quitting time!”

Suddenly, it’s almost Tuesday. And there’s an all day offsite meeting tomorrow.

All.
Day.

I’m trying to convince myself that I can knit through the meeting without being noticed. This is rather unlikely due to the fact that a) we’re a tiny company of about twenty souls, so it’s kind of hard to find a quiet nook in the back of the room and vanish and b) we’re a tight-knit (ha!) group with a broad interest base and, erm, inquisitive natures, ergo somebody sitting there knitting might as well be reprogramming an Oracle box using their Treo – it will be noticed and nobody is shy about shouting, “Hey! Something interesting!! Whatcha doing, huh?! Explain! In detail! With charts and graphs!!”

So, I’m also coming up with arguments in case anybody wants to get up in my peanut butter about the fact that I am knitting while they’re blathering on about our Noble and Lofty Company Goals. They go something like this:

First line of defense: It’s a matter of fact:

I can knit and listen more easily than I can sit and listen. This is a documented fact – if I’m just sitting there and you’re talking, I assure you that even if I’m nodding and going ‘uh-huh, uh-huh’, I’m not listening. I’m thinking about what I could be doing with my time while you’re talking, but just sitting there, while you talk? Wastes. Productivity.

Second line of defense: Do you really want to snatch warmth away from babies?

I am making things like booties, sweaters, hats and blankies for Helpless Tiny Hospitalized Children Who Need Such Things Desperately. What kind of heartless monster are you, anyway, to ask me to sit there with my hands uselessly fidgeting in my lap, when I could be making warm, snuggly things for disadvantaged babies?! SHAME ON YOU!!! (I am also working on my ‘withering gaze’ and ‘mournful eyes’, but it isn’t going well – I keep looking like I’ve got a bad case of indigestion.)

Third line of defense: Fear my rapier wit – FEAR IT, I SAY!

If you take away my knitting I may feel impelled to make wiseass remarks all through your presentation. I will have nowhere else to channel my energies. And I will be angry, so my remarks may be particularly cutting. I will point out the fact that your socks do not go with your pants; if anybody loved you at all, maybe they’d knit you some that did OH WAIT! You’re against that whole knitting-thing…

(I’ll be putting my resume up on DICE soon…)

And that will be Tuesday, and then it will be Wednesday.

But wait! In a stroke of sheer oddness, I am taking Wednesday and Thursday off this week. I’m not going anywhere or doing anything, either. I’m just taking two days of vacation in the middle of the week. Because I can, because I have over three weeks of accrued vacation, people.

That’s right. I’m taking two days off because I can. And also I need to take some days off, or I might just jump off a bridge. Not on purpose, mind you. It’ll be a matter of extreme inattention to detail. “…mutter, mutter, left at the next corner…SPLASH!”

…who the hell put that big orange bridge there?!?!

I’ve toyed with Doing Something, but honestly…I don’t wanna. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything, really. I want to have absolute freedom on my days off. I want to be able to stay home watching bad television, or suddenly jump into the car and go on a safari through the wilderness of Central California.

I refuse to make actual plans. My plan is to not have a plan. Since the rest of my life tends to be highly scheduled and goal-oriented, I’m looking forward to two days of skulking around pretending I’m not here. What? Dinner? I dunno, honey, I’m on vacation. {Evil laughter}

And then it will be Friday.

Which will be an utterly useless day and honestly, I do not know why I didn’t take it off, too. I mean, there is this One Thing that I really need to do because I’m the only person who has the knowledge-expertise to do it without bollixing it up beyond all reason. I can either spend a few hours doing it myself, or spend a few days undoing the mayhem caused by someone else trying to do it.

And then another weekend will whip past me so fast it takes another inch off my hair and then?

It will be Monday again.

Friday, January 26, 2007

ROFLMAO du jour

Headline as it displayed in my email inbox:

The Evening Wrap: Fresh Paint, Shaky Foundations; Stocks Keep Slipping; Bush Ass...

{blink, blink}

{…reread headline…}

{fall out of chair laughing}

It’s always the unintentional ones that are the funniest…

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

*snork!* Wha? Uh, I think we should definitely work on the inverted yield curve theory on a six week sliding…

Oh. Heh heh. It’s you. Hi. I thought it was…someone else…like, say, my boss, who is probably wondering if I still work for the company or have gone on permanent sick leave.

People, this has been the worst run of ill-health to date in the Den. My husband and I went over recent events in exhaustive detail and have concluded that in eight years of parenting, the last month has been the hardest on the sickness front. It wasn’t so much the illnesses themselves as the fact that everybody got it, but not all at once. Each person had two to four days of being sick…overlapping by one day at the most. And it recurred!

We haven’t had a full night’s sleep in three weeks.

But we are slowly returning to what passes for normal around here. I took Captain Adventure to daycare yesterday morning, and lived in trembling fear of my telephone. It jangled me out of my reverie five times yesterday morning, and each time I stared at it with intense hatred.

So help me Dog, if this is daycare calling to say he had a bout of Explosive Diarrhea or something…!

But it wasn’t. My mother and my mother in law, both checking on Captain Adventure, someone looking for Best Buy, Gottschalks with exciting information about my account (memo to me, close the @*^&@ing Gottschalks account) and a fellow mother who is selling Avon (remind me that I would like to express my appreciation to a Certain Teacher for giving out our home phone numbers to all the parents in the class).

You know what? I just this minute realized I have something new to be grateful for.

In the last few weeks, I have been approached by numerous women selling Mary Kay, Avon, Amway, laundry and body soaps, aromatherapy, Pampered Chef and yes, the old standby, Tupperware.

But I have not once been approached by someone clutching a briefcase full of yarn. “Do you want to have a Wool Party? It’d be FUN! Plus you can get a free skein of Koigu if you get fifteen guests…”

People, there would be sixty people handcuffed to my furniture that very night. And also, every credit card I have would be maxed out plus also my Knit From Your Stash thing?

Right out the window.

So yes. I have much to be grateful for. Koigu does not have an ‘independent consultant’ trade; nor does KnitPicks, or Halcyon Yarns, or Webs.

This is a happy thing.

Unlike this:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Yeah, remember that? It’s Eldest’s sweater. In almost a month I have…finished the second sleeve. And, uh, that’s about it. At this rate, it will be June before the thing is finished – just in time for her to never actually wear it, because by the time it is cold enough for the child to want a wool sweater on, she will be two sizes bigger.

Children and the growing thing, what are you gonna do?

The holdup is actually my sewing machine, which I need to use for the steeks on the sides (these being the Norwegian style steeks, with no extra stitches on either side of the cut, a machine stitch is kind of necessary to keep the yarn from unraveling when you {gulp} cut it). I have nowhere to put it right now (let alone use it), due to a certain Clutter Issue that has taken over all my craft-worthy surfaces. I’ve been chipping away at it, but in terms of actual headway…well…eh, not so much. Not to mention that the instant I clear even a one foot circle of space, another twelve pounds of crap lands right smack in the middle of it.

So, while waiting for the clutter to magically vanish (ahem), I cast on this:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is a sweet pattern, very easy, and a nice break from the wee little #1 DPNs I’d been using for all those socks. It’s in Lion Baby Soft, so it’s no, really machine wash and dry, 60% acrylic, 40% nylon. Very soft, very warm.

Tangles like the dickens, though.

I have a dream for the weekend. I see my sewing machine running the stitches down the sides of this sweater, so I can cut the steeks, sew in the sleeves, and do the neckband on this sweater. I see this baby blanket finished. And I see me digging through my stash picking out what-all is next.

OK, so, it isn’t a Nobel Prize winning kind of dream. But it’s all I got at the moment, so I’m clinging to it like glue.

May you all have a fun and germ-free weekend…

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More like a crash pad…

The Daily OM today talked about having a space that is our ‘landing pad’ in their article Your Comfort Zone: Create A Soft Place To Land .

A basement or attic, spare room, or unused storage area, furnished with items that soothe you, can give you the privacy you need to unwind…Preparing these spaces can be as easy as replacing clutter with a small selection of beautiful objects that put you in a relaxed frame of mind.

Ah yes. Easy. Lovely. Nice…

Remember to consider noise and activity levels while choosing the site of your landing pad. If you know that ordinary human commotion will distract you from your purpose, look for a secluded spot.

HA! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

…snicker…

…snort…



**sob**

This is a five bedroom house. There are 2300 square feet in this house. Three full bathrooms. This house, people, is enormous. Trust me, I just got done cleaning it. It’s massive.

And yet.

There is not one single place in this whole house that I can go to take refuge, feel at peace and most of all get away from the @*^&@ing noise!!!!!

If there is any design flaw in this house, it is that noise carries most shockingly. It has one of those ‘light and airy, great for entertaining’ floor plans – which means that if the children are playing anywhere in the house, the sound travels beautifully along the vaulted ceilings, is amplified and channeled directly into my brain.

Also, no matter where you are in the house, the TV will sound as if it is in the same room with you – unless, of course, you are in the TV room. If you are in the TV room, dialog coming from the TV will be all but inaudible.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve come downstairs in my PJs to snarl at my husband to TURN THAT @*^&@ING THING DOWN ALREADY at half-past way too late for a work night, well, I’d be able to buy myself a latte to make up for the sleep deprivation caused by Super Kill’Em Cop Kung Fu Midnight Madness Crusader Zee XII – This Time, It’s Personal.

Last weekend, the Den was like a Keystone Kops Kaper. Everywhere I went, the Denizens came right along behind me leaving Denizen Destruction© in their wake.

It was pathetic, really. All I wanted was a wee little tiny bit of time to myself. Quiet time. Peace, and quiet. That’s all.

But what I got…was Denizen Destruction©.

I was about ready to commit acts that would have CPS banging on my door faster than a bill collector.

It seemed so little to ask: Half an hour, thirty paltry minutes, of silence. That didn’t involve leaving my Den. I just needed a little time in my own space, to reflect and relax and not be negotiating a peace treaty between any two entities.

Children, of course, do not understand this. They must learn about a human being’s need for the occasional block of Peace And @*^&@ing Quiet. They must be taught that if they see someone…say, their mother…turning bright purple, with her hair standing on end, smoke coming from her ears and a deep grinding noise from her teeth, this is probably a good time to back sloooooowly away from her, shutting the door silently behind you, get as far as humanly possible away and pretend you don’t exist for a period of no less than thirty minutes.

For some inexplicable reason, survival instinct does not kick in and warn children that they are about to be ended if they don't leave mumsy-wumsy alone for a few minutes. In fact, when they see their mother in this state, her stress communicates itself to them and triggers yet louder cries, demands, wails and protests. Siblings will immediately declare war on each other. Toys will be broken. As will ear drums, from the shrieking about the broken toys. Land speed records will be broken in the efforts to be the first to tattle.

Not to daddy, who is sitting on the sofa watching a (bad) kung fu movie. Oooooooh no. Gotta be mommy, who is just trying to find Five. @*^&@ing. Minutes. of. Peace. And. !!@*^&@ing!! Quiet. They will stand on the other side of a locked bathroom door screaming their case - in stereo - and ignoring the clear sounds of their mother about to come out of there like something out of Stephen King's worst nightmare to end their little lives.

I have a relatively high tolerance for noise (being slightly deaf helps) (if you’d like to enjoy this benefit, just let me know – I’ll send the Denizens to your place for a weekend and you’ll be set), and am not a bit surprised that having four small children underfoot brings with it a certain level of noise, mess, laundry and other irritations.

Remember how I said my house is massive? Well, this weekend, it was way too small.

Sometimes I would give anything to have one of those McMansions, one of the ones that seems specifically designed to put S-P-A-C-E between each and every soul who dwells therein. Sometimes, I would run up and lick the door handle, if it meant I got to keep the place.

Especially the ones that have an in-law unit that is utterly separate from the main house. Where you leave the main house, walk across a courtyard, and enter a separate little apartment with a lock on the door, a mini kitchen and full bathroom.

All the benefits of running away from home…without any travel expenses.

If we got a house that had one of those? Dog as my witness, I would pee on the floor of the in-law unit to mark it as my very own turf. I’d rush in there before anybody else had a chance and do the deed, right away. Then I would announce it.

“See that? That spot right there? It’s pee! In. The. Carpet!!” I would announce.

It would work. That space would be mine, mine forever!!

Because y’all? I am the only person in this family who doesn’t blanch and flee in the presence of peed-upon carpet…

Yet more proof that I am EEEEEEEEVIL…

If you go to CompFused and watch this video:

Icy Roads In Portland


Watch Video


You will note that they suggest it is even better if you make pinball sounds in your head while you watch. How evil is that?! This is serious! This is Not Funny! This is wanton and frightening destruction of property and there is nothing funny whatsoever about it!!

I mean, I saw some of this footage on TV the day it happened. I saw it three times in one newscast. Each time, the anchorperson was solemn. Each time, they talked about how ‘serious’ this problem was.

And, in my head, especially by the second time around?

…ping!...ping!...ping-ping!...ping!...





I am so going to hell…

He’s baaaaaaaaaaack!

The gremlins who had kidnapped my son apparently gave up overnight and brought him back. The changeling is gone, and Captain Adventure is back in da house.

Let me hear the Mommy say: Whew.

You see, my son is a happy little person. The changeling we had yesterday was a bawling, squalling bundle of can’t-be-made-happy neediness. There were moments when I was ready to call a priest for an exorcism. Or at least burn some of that sage incense I know I’ve got lying around here somewhere…maybe put on some woad…I don’t know. Something. I wasn’t that proud to begin with, and was becoming more and more desperate by the hour.

The sudden recovery began last night with a bag of Ritz Bits peanut butter crackers. He had eaten a few bites of bread over the weekend, but refused to even look at most solid food. Last night in a fit of sheer desperation we offered him a bag of the crackers thinking that a) he’d say ‘no way’ and b) if he did eat any, he’d probably throw them up but at least he’d have something to bring up instead of just dry heaves, which suck, but most important c) it might distract him long enough for me to have a good cry about the whole thing.

But he ate those. And then a couple peanut butter cookies. And drank some water. And then some juice. And when he saw me plating up the fish sticks, he jumped into his chair and began begging. He threw the fish sticks on the floor but cheerfully ate his applesauce.

He was still fussy, though, and fell asleep on daddy pretty quick, giving up on the whole thing in disgust.

First thing this morning, I heard…singing. Singing! From the crib!

eeeeeeeeeYES!!!!

“Are you ready to get up now?” “YEAH!” “You want to play today?” “YEAH!”

He took his medicine, drank some milk, ate two scrambled eggs and a piece of toast, chatting and laughing and occasionally leaning forward to point at his runny nose (like maybe I wouldn’t notice) (well, OK, that actually has been known to happen) and then said, “Dah-own pees!” (down please), ran over to the TV and threw his hands against it and said, “OOOpffff!” (which I think may have meant ‘on’ or ‘hey mom, how about putting on some toddler-appropriate programming, maybe some Dora or a show about shapes and colors, c’mon, hook a guy up, whaddya say?’)

We are now sharing an episode of Baby Newton (Square! See the square? BLUE! Blue. Square. YAY!!) (…can we please move on to something more intellectual, like Spongebob or maybe 2 Stupid Dogs…?), and once again, you would never know he had ever been sick.

Well. Unless you noticed the Niagara Falls impersonation his nose is attempting, or the glazed expression on my face this morning. I woke up about eleventy-million times last night because I thought I heard him vomiting.

But $DEITY be praised, I think the worst may finally be over.

Cue a sister getting sick in three…two…one…

Monday, January 22, 2007

A fish stick by any other name…

OK, so, I made fish sticks and applesauce for Denizen dinner tonight. And yes, I’m calling ketchup a ‘vegetable’ and pretending that it is a healthy choice.

Because people…if you plate it right, even fish sticks are obviously a gourmet meal:

Speciality de Maison Chaos

Actually, these aren’t half bad. They’re the Trident ‘Ultimate Fish Stick’, which are less bread and more fish. They aren’t the fish sticks you remember from your school cafeteria, folks.

And yes. They do taste better when the ketchup is in a swirly pattern instead of a glorp, and the applesauce provides a sweet counter-balance to the tangy bite of the ketchup and, uh, the, erm...sea-like sweet fishy-ness of the fish sticks.

(And thus do we see why I do not have a career ahead of me in culinary review. *sob, sob* another fine career opportunity, blighted!)

The Denizens were delighted by the presentation. DING DING DING!! She shoots, she scores!! Thank you, thank you, autographs available upon request...Now if I could just get them to quit fighting about whether it's a flower, a sun, or a starfish...

The husband and I, poor unfortunates that we are, are having leftover pork roast [lean pork loin roast coated in a rub of salt, cracked pepper, and ground cumin, draped with bacon slices and slow cooked for, uh, um, a whole day, (about eight hours? ish?) in the crockpot with a scant quarter cup of water for extra moisture] , treated a-la chicken salad with some mayo and a good brown mustard and diced pickles, broiled open-faced on homemade rye bread under a healthy slice of garlic gouda - a dish the Denizens have dubbed, "EWWWWW YUCK THAT'S GROSS GAG! GAG! GAG!!!!! {fall on floor and pretend to die to death because it is Just So AWFUL!!}"

@*^&@!!!!!

Yes, that’s right. Fake swear words, right in the title bar.

I have NO shame, people. None.

This weekend, I meant to work on the paper overload, file some photographs, knit a bunch and clean the Den a bit.

Instead, I did a little knitting, less cleaning, and a lot of cuddling Captain Adventure, who added vomiting to his list of ailments this weekend.

To recap, the child has two infected ears, strep throat – now, with vomiting!!

He is miserable and clingy and I don’t blame him even one tiny little bit. His little life sucks right now.

Sometimes, I just want to go to bed and stay there until the whole thing is over.

Well. Apparently, my ten minute break from having him lying on me is now over. Right. Well, glad we had this little chat. Take care of yourselves and for Pete’s sake, if you’ve been anywhere need me, go take a bath in bleach, drink your Flu-Away and wash all your clothes in boiling water.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Gearing up to stand down

*sniff, sniff*

What’s that smell? It smells like…quitting time!

{Angels singing, confetti, Light of Hope streaming down from on high, unicorns frisking through fields of buttercups}

This has been one of the hardest weeks on record since I went back to work. I have had a ton of motivational issues, not helped one little bit by Captain Adventure being sick, and the Job Monitor {dramatic music, cape, kindly-wise look on face} thing has been really draining. People keep saying things I don’t understand about processes I know nothing about, and then when I say, “Uuuuuuuh,” they say things like, “Oh, don’t worry, you don’t need to know how it works – I’m saying telling you so you’ll know.”

OK. Thanks, thanks for that. I’ll go ahead and file that away, shall I?

This weekend’s plans changed rather dramatically thanks to Captain Adventure’s strep throat; although technically his doctor said he would no longer be contagious as of tonight, I didn’t want to go anywhere anyway prefer not to take chances with these things.

So instead of attending social events, I’m going to spend the weekend alternating knitting for babies with taking care of one of my Special Projects: Paper Elimination.

It is positively disgraceful how much paper I’ve got cluttering up my life. It’s no wonder I can never find anything – there’s so much ‘anything’ to flip through, it’s a wonder we haven’t all died of infected paper cuts.

I have a scanner, people, and I’m not afraid to use it. I’m going to be going through all my paper, scanning anything I might actually need and the shredding / recycling / otherwise getting rid of as much paper as humanly possible.

One other thing I want to do this weekend is work on our finances. There are two times when I lose money faster than a drunken tourist in Vegas: When I’m feeling wealthy (I can blow through a bonus check [and then some] before the ink is dry on the deposit slip), and when I’m on budgetary auto-pilot.

Every so often, it really helps to go back to Square 1 and look at everything as if I were just starting out. Try to forget what I thought I was doing and go at it as if I never had a plan.

Sometimes, I come to exactly the same conclusion – and that’s great!

Other times, I realize that something has changed along the way, and the deal isn’t as good as it used to be, or that there are better opportunities out there.

I’m not a person who prays that $DEITY will drop a million bucks in my lap. But I do pray, darn near daily, that I will be awakened to all the blessings and opportunities that surround me, each and every day.

And also, that I can fend off my lazy long enough to make a grab for them.

Because sitting on my ever-expanding rear end saying, “Wow, yeah, that might have been a really cool deal…” is, uh, a little less than helpful…

Thursday, January 18, 2007

And also, I’m fired

I spent $48.50 at the supermarket today. I'm SO fired, people. What did I say? What was it? Something about...not going to buy stuff we don't need, try to just get milk and eggs, blah blah blah, something about USING WHAT I'VE ALREADY GOT before I whip through the supermarket like Barbie hitting the mall...

Six gallons of milk – needed it.
Six gallons of apple juice – needed it.
Bag of apples, bunch of bananas and bag of onions – I’ll call that needed.

But for the four quarts of cranberry juice, four whole chickens and the…other two things? I really have no excuse. Well. Except that the freezer is almost empty of meats and the chicken was on sale for $0.69 a pound and I just couldn’t stop myself. And cranberry juice is necessary for cosmopolitan martinis, which are all that stand between the Denizens and certain flaming death right about now.

And as for the other two things…

…well…

Look. It’s like this. Sometimes? A person just needs chocolate cake. And when the Universe cares to align itself such that a person who just needs chocolate cake happens to be in the supermarket when chocolate cake mix is on sale for a buck a box, to ignore the obvious Profession of Love from $DEITY would be like looking a gift horse in the mouth.

And I’d never do such a thing.

So I bought the stinkin’ chocolate cake mix, and thanked $DEITY very much for putting the end cap next to the pharmacy pickup.

Why I bought two, however…well. For that, I have no defense apart from the observation that it seemed natural that both of my two hands each grabbed a box. Upon reflection it might not have been my best possible move, but it is what it is.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go destroy the evidence clean the kitchen.

...mmmmmm...chocolate....

No really, he was acting sick!!

So I brought my happy happy joy joy son into the doctor’s office. The office was the fullest I have ever seen it – overflowing with children ranging from about fourteen years all the way down maybe fourteen days. All of them sick with the same flu. We the parents all had the same glassy-eyed look a parent gets on the third straight day of almost no sleep. The nursing staff were stubbornly cheerful, although there was a slight wildness to their eyes as they dashed hither and yon clutching charts.

And then there was Captain Adventure, who was…dancing! And singing! And reading books! And running! And trying to get Mommy to dance with him! Ha! HAHAHAHA! Lookit me, I’m the happiest toddler in the Universe!!!!!

I had second-guessed my decision this morning, when he bestowed upon me a Happy Happy Joy Joy morning. I had groused to myself that it was a conspiracy! That I must have enemies, who had trained my son to act sick so that I would take excessive time off work and get myself fired. (I should be so lucky.)

And yet, deep inside, I had this uneasy feeling. I left the appointment alone, even though I knew it was going to be a madhouse in there today. Watching him today my logical mind said ‘eh, must have been a regular cold and he’s almost over it now’. But deep beneath logical thought, the Momma Lizard said, “WRONG! DOCTOR! NOW!”

As we went through the pre-exam screening with the nurse, I was really feeling a tad foolish. There I sat, saying “Yes, I know he’s doing the Macarena now, but, yesterday? He was really miserable…” about a child who is singing and dancing and carrying on like he’s at Mardi Gras, with nothing more than a rather mild fever and occasional deep cough to show the medical professionals today.

The nurse was giving me that look, the one the says, “While we appreciate that you are a concerned parent, STOP WASTING OUR TIME, CAN’T YOU SEE WE HAVE SICK CHILDREN TO TEND?!” (Actually, she was giving me the ‘hmm, that’s odd’ look, because she’s not one of those types who gets all superior or thinks she knows more than you do about your child – but at that point I felt like I was wasting their time, which would have been better spent helping one of those poor, wretched children huddled over buckets and baggies out in the waiting room.)

Then the doctor came in and asked what was up with our little guy. I explained again about how, in spite of seeming perfectly OK right now, I had thought that he might have ear infections or strep or something

The doctor is listening to this as he watches Captain Adventure bumbling around the room showing off every word he knows, trying to take apart the patient bed and otherwise acting like a perfectly healthy toddler.

But to humor me, he looked in one ear.

And recoiled. Captain Adventure grinned at him cheerfully.

“Wow, that’s really red!” he said grimly. “OK, let’s check the other one…”

Another recoil. Captain Adventure laughed and clapped his hands.

“Whoa. Two for two. That’s…really something…wow. Yes. Those are really red in there. Lots of fluid, lots of pressure. Tsk tsk.”

And then he looked at the throat, cleared his own and said, “Yes, well. He’s going on amoxicillin anyway for the ears and that’s the same stuff I’d give him for the strep, but! I’d like to do the instant strep test anyway. That’s something you ought to know about if he has it, siblings, you, husband, more antibiotics blah blah blah…”

Sure.
As.
Spit.

The child has strep throat. It didn’t take no seven minutes to get that result, either – BAM! Two bold pink lines leapt forth to proclaim that THIS CHILD HAS STREP THROAT!!!!!!

Now, I want you all to stop for a moment and ponder how that poor baby must have been feeling. High fever. Strep throat. TWO infected ears. Remembering my last bout of strep, I seem to recall body and head ache also played a significant role in my misery.

My doctor gave me codeine, people. Captain Adventure was being fed nothing more than children’s Tylenol – two MeltAways every four hours.

He entertained everyone at the pharmacy. He waved like a prince at his adoring fans at the supermarket. He cooed charmingly at the nice lady at Jack in the Box as she handed over the french fries.

“Oh, what a cute little guy!” they all said.

He was chatting me up as we got home. “Eh-oh! Buh-bye! Door! Ack-et! [jacket, for those of you who do not speak toddler] Muh-mah! MUH-MAH! [translation: fork over the fries, woman!] Good! Mine! Yum!!”

Quite the conversation going. I buckled him into his chair and gave him his french fries and some of my hamburger, which he began tucking into like a champion. Chatter gave way to murmurs, which gave way to nothing but the occasional sound of a juice cup being picked up and set down, which gave way to…silence…

Without so much as a thud, there he was: Fast asleep on the table, a french fry dangling from his lips like a malformed and oddly colored cigarette. {Pause to pray that this is the closest thing to an actual cigarette I will ever see dangling from his adorable little lips, amen.}

Out. Cold.

Now I told you that, so I could tell you this: I catch strep throat if I am in the same county with another person who has it.

I will bet you a burrito right here and now that not only will I catch the strep, it will manifest itself Friday evening, right after my doctor has gone home for the weekend.

Betcha.

Happy happy joy joy

Tuesday afternoon the phone rang. My gut said “don’t answer that!”, but I answered it anyway.

Daycare. Captain Adventure had a fever.

@*^&@.

See, in my twisted brain, if I hadn’t answered the phone, he wouldn’t have had the fever. I know that in reality it doesn’t work that way – but I reject your reality and substitute my own. If I don’t know about it, it doesn’t exist. Poor kid would have been spared two whole days of misery, if I had just gone with my first instinct and not picked up the phone.

Fortunately, it was the end of the day and I went and got him and no harm was done to my relationships at work – which actually are in danger due to the downright excessive number of days in the last two months during which I have had between one and ten Denizens home with me making a ruin of my working day.

Yesterday he was a bundle of feverish, angsty toddler. So naturally, I made an appointment for him to get his ears and throat checked out by a Qualified Medical Professional, here defined as ‘a person able to write a prescription for Pink Stuff’.

This morning, he was a bundle of angsty toddler…right up until the moment he realized that is was going to be just him, and mommy – his favorite personal slave.

Now? He is Mr. Chuckles. Mr. Charm and Personality. Mr. Sparkling Conversation. Mr. Just So Darned Glad To See Ya.

**sigh**

While I can’t take the day off (job monitor duty, how I loathe thee), I am taking it as a half-a$$ed working day. I come in here, check email and job status, fire off a few comments, and then ditch back into the playroom to cuddle and nurture my sick son – or knit if he’s in one of those ‘don’t touch me, woman! – but do sit in here with me in case I change my mind’ moods. In about an hour, we’re going to the doctor’s office, and then the supermarket / pharmacy (definitely the former, the latter if Pink Stuff is indeed prescribed for ears or throat), and then Supercuts to see if he’s still got eyes under all that hair.

And then? I’m thinking junk food for lunch. Stuff I never let them have – french fries and popcorn chicken at KFC. And stuff I shouldn’t have but will anyway, like maybe one of those KFC bowl things (which I swear should be banned as a leading cause of obesity and diabetes and who knows what-all else) or one of their chicken pot pies or something else I shouldn’t be eating but WOMAN DOES NOT LIVE BY LEAN CUISINE ALONE, PEOPLE!!!!

OK. Glad we’re clear on that. Now if you’ll excuse me, my Lord and Master would like his #1 Slave to return to playroom so he can drool on her some more…

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What he said

mbhunter wrote an article called Sixteen ways being disorganized costs you money.

I agree with all of them, but right immediately now I must confess the very last one hit a rather raw nerve:

Huge amounts of lost productivity. I’ve probably spent several months of my life looking for something that I’ve misplaced. Or I’ve been working at 25% capacity because all of the visual and mental noise of disorganization just wears me down; I don’t know what to do or even where to start on a project sometimes.

Let me hear the choir say, “AMEN!”

I have spent more time in the last few days alone wandering around muttering, “Keys…keys…keys…where the @*^&@ are my @*^&@ing keys?!” than I like to admit in a public forum. Ditto the checkbook, any jacket that isn’t so huge it could be used to protect an orange tree from frost, laptop cables, game cards and printer paper.

I probably could have finished knitting an entire baby blanket, if I had that time back.

I am not one of those people who was designed by nature to be organized. Or a do-er. Or a stick-to-it-er. In brief, I’m easily distracted. However sternly I say to myself, “OK! We’re getting rid of all those magazines today!”, what I will somehow end up doing is re-reading all the magazines, going online to research something said in an article I don’t think is 100% accurate, writing a fifteen page essay on why, while the author has a certain point, he is wrong-wrong-wrong, and then, forgetting that I’ve pulled the magazines off the shelves and scattered them all over the hall, come charging out of the office in the dark, late as usual, and trip over them.

My battles with Chaos are constant, and sometimes (usually) seem rather pointless. Especially when I’m wandering through the house cursing under my breath looking for my keys !!AGAIN!!, and finding nothing but huge stacks of abandoned magazines, newspapers, children’s artwork and homework, and lonely socks.

I have to confess, sometimes I really do get depressed about it. Angry, even. I’ve even been known to stomp around slamming cabinet doors and yelling things like, “Doesn’t anybody else know how to pick up a @*^&@ing sock around here?!” and “Why do you all hate me so much? Why? WHY?!”

Which is a bit unfair. Sure, I have some help with it, but honestly most of the mess comes from…me. I set things down with the best of ‘I’ll come right back to pick this up’ intentions, and then…well. I get distracted. One thing leads to another, and I never get back to it and ‘suddenly’ there it is. A pile of crap so high tourists are asking me to take their pictures in front of it.

Sometimes I look at it and I say things like, “That’s it. I’m leaving it. It can just stay there until the kids are all grown and flown! Then maybe I’ll be allowed to have a clean, organized house!!”

Sure, maybe. Then again, I may have umpteen zillion grandkids charging through the Den at all times, leaving a stream of homework, drawings, lonely socks and half-eaten oatmeal bars in their wake.

Sometimes I wonder if the cavewomen went through the same thing. Did they go around the cave picking up half-gnawed bones, stone chips and sinew fragments, snarling at their children, “Would it kill you people to pick up after yourselves?!”

Wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

But undaunted (or at least, unwilling to give up the war even if a few of the battles don’t go my way), I keep trying. I keep shoveling, even though the blizzard still rages. The mailman, school system, after school programs and stormy outdoor weather (which brings dead leaves, mud, soaking jackets, shoes and socks which are shed by the Denizens at earliest opportunity and dropped wherever they happen to be standing at the time) side with the Chaos and attempt to overwhelm me; but with the help of my mate I stand firm and continue the fight. Semper Pertinax!!!

Occasionally it gets ahead of me; occasionally I get ahead of it.

As long as it getting ahead doesn’t consistently coincide with company coming over, I figure I’m winning the war.

…wait!...

…what’s that rustling sound?...sounds like…like…a piling of junk mail, attempting a sneak attack on the left flank!!

En garde, villains!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

If you heard a “swooooooooooshKKK!” noise…

…that was my hands, sucking in about a quarter cup of moisturizer.

This is amazing. So I went out to run errands, and as I reached out to take the bag loaded with Taco Bell fare (yummm, cheesy goodness) I noticed that my skin was cracked on my left hand. Just a little crack, a fine line of red, but worth a closer look.

It was like something out of a horror movie. I pulled my hand back and put it up in front of my face, flexed my fingers…and a seam opened up along my pinkie and it started to no-for-real bleed. Not gushing or anything (and, thankfully, no aliens burst forth from within), but enough to make me yelp and grab a napkin to keep it from getting on anything.

For a split second I thought, Oh my gosh! It’s that flesh-eating disease, I just KNOW it!!! (Um, yes, I have hypochondriac leanings. Which is why someday I’m going to actually die of something stupid, because I always laugh off the thing I’m “obviously” dying of, because I know I’m probably just being a hypochondriac) (also, I should probably quit reading outdated articles at WebMD.)

And then I realized it wasn’t anything of the sort (see? I should always ignore my first instinct – at least with my own self. If, however, I think one of the Denizens has an ear infection? I don’t care if you can’t see it yet with your $400 ear-see-er-into-er-thingee and 18 years of medical training, it’s there. I can sense an ear infection hours, nay!, days before medical science can pick one up…). It was just dry skin wreaking its havoc on my hands.

It’s like a gnarly paper cut, and now that I’ve noticed it, it hurts like one, too. Smarts out all proportion to actual seriousness. I also noticed that I have several smaller but similar cracks around the bases of most of my fingers, and that the skin of my entire hands up to the wrist is so dry that it looks like someone has taken a belt sander to me.

When I got home, I dove into my bathroom, emerged triumphantly with a Costco-sized bottle of Curel, and took a couple full pumps into my palm expecting I’d need a towel for the excess.

Nope. What I’d need would be another couple full pumps, and then about a half pump to finally get to the point where my hands were “full”.

Still didn’t need a towel, though. It sank in with the application of a little warmth from the space heater. My hands sucked all that greasy goop in like a frat boy hitting the Budweiser keg. Swooooooooshk!!!

I swear, my left hand belched the alphabet afterwards. Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff, right there. Good to the last drop.

{pause to hum Maxwell House theme to self}

{Great. Now I want more coffee.}

Now, for heaven’s sake, people. Can you tell me, can you please tell me, how somebody gets their hands into such a State without noticing? You know, before the bleeding part? It isn’t like I don’t look at them frequently – hello, this very morning I was picking up a button band on a preemie sweater, which is not exactly “…and I was reading The Economist while I did so” work. No. I was staring at my hands. They’ve even been dropping little hints throughout the day, aching and complaining more than usual about the cold and such.

But no.

I ignored their pleas for help until they were forced to open gaping wounds (ok, a tiny paper cut like slit about as wide as my pinkie nail, geeeeesh!, do you all know how to ruin the drama of the moment with ‘reality’!) to get my attention.

That ain’t right, y’all. It just ain’t right…

In Other News: I will die if I don’t win this house.

OK. Not really.

But I’d really love to win it.

Even though I’m not going to on account of because I think I have a better chance of being hit by lightning, and my mother would kill me dead if I won this house and moved myself and four of her six grandchildren to !?Colorado?!* (go ahead, ask her how she feels about the idea of us moving to !?Colorado?!), and YES I KNOW, it snows in !?Colorado?! and I have no idea what that’s like blah blah eight miles uphill in the snow barefoot both ways YES! I KNOW!!

But look…a cozy knitting spot…walk in closets for the yarn…home office from which to buy more yarn…a cold climate where knitting with wool would be considered a plus…

…and ‘go play in your room’ is two floors down…

**sigh**

Why yes, please do sign me up to win…

* Pronunciation guide: !?Colorado?! is said in a high, squeaky, disbelieving voice with accents of superior knowledge indicating that the person speaking of !?Colorado?! might as well be talking about moving to the 9th ring of Dante's Inferno and that such things ought not to be said, at least not in polite society, so let's talk about something else, shall we, such as staying in California where we DARN WELL BELONG and not sullying our thoughts with such things as !?Colorado?! or WORSE! !!!Connecticut!!! {swoon!}

Loopholes and other excitement

For the first time in I can’t even guess how long, I have the Den to myself today.

Let us pause for a moment to enjoy the quiet. The lack of anybody talking. The lack of other people coughing, the sound of video games or cartoon or little piping voices screeching, “No! I’m the fairy princess unicorn fairy, you’re the fairy princess turnip fairy!!” No husband suddenly erupting with, “You know what ELSE is stupid? Blah blah code yadda server and HOW COME THEY DON’T JUST blah blah blah blah BLAH BLAH BLAH”.

No friends, no family, nobody expected, and if the doorbell rings? I ain’t answering it, ‘cause I ain’t expectin’ nobody.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah. The freedom to use bad grammar without worrying that your kids are going to repeat it is a beautiful thing.

I love the sound of double negatives in the morning.

You know what else is wonderful? Being able to say to yourself, “I think I’m going to take myself out to lunch today while I’m running errands”, and not having it be a two hour ordeal involving five or six or ten other people’s schedules and dietary concerns.

Just me and Taco Bell, baby. Might even spring for the steak burrito, that’s how frisky I am today, people. Besides. I have a $10 gift card to Taco Bell burning a hole in my pocket. Might even get some of those cinnamon thingees while I’m at it, that’s how wealthy I’m feeling right now.

But that’s not what has me the most excited. I realized that there is a Grand and Glorious loophole in my Knit From Your Stash rules.

Are you ready? It involves the definition of ‘gifts of yarn’.

You see. There are many forms of yarn gift.

There is the ‘open the box, there’s the yarn’ kind of yarn gift.

And then there’s the gift certificate to a yarn store. Which is obviously a gift of yarn, because c’mon. I have all the books, needles and notions a reasonable person could ever need in a single lifetime.

A yarn store is of course defined as a store which sells yarn, right?

In which case, it naturally follows that if one were to receive a gift card to WalMart? Well. It’s obviously a gift of yarn, which is allowable under Rule #3.

HA! I run rings around me logically!!!

Actually, the yarn I’m going to get at WalMart with my gift cards would also have been allowable under 2b, If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift. One of “my” knitting charities is currently requesting scarves and hats, lots and lots and lots of scarves and hats, in dark colored machine wash/dry yarn, for homeless people and teens who are literally freezing to death out there.

I have nothing in my stash that is dark and machine wash / dry. I have light things that are machine wash and dry (currently being made into baby things), and I have dark things that are hand wash only – they would felt like the dickens if you tossed them into a machine. But dark AND machine wash? Nothing. Not even a sorry remnant ball.

So I’m going to be trading my WalMart gift card for as many skeins of the warmest, softest machine-wash yarn in dark colors I can (in)decently abscond with and the needles are going to be flying. I can’t imagine how those poor people are surviving, considering how cold I feel sitting in my house, with the central heating going AND a space heater under my wee little shivering feet while perpetually clutching a mug of hot tea in California for Pete’s sake! (although the cold out here belies the California-sun theory – we got down to the low teens out here last night – pipes burst all over town – people who moved here from Minnesota standing on the curb screaming, It isn’t supposed to do that HERE! We were LIED TO! We want our MONEY BACK!!! – it’s ugly, people, ugly).

In other news…I’m finishing a wee little preemie sweater right now. As always, I’m somewhat appalled by how small it is. I always look at these and think, “No. That’s too small. Dang it, might as well give that one to the children to play with…”

And then I remember that preemies can be as small as 3 pounds. Three pounds. We have dolls bigger than that in this house. Small wonder that they’re always so welcome – I defy you to find something in this size at any of the usual places for baby clothing!

OK. So. I’m going to Taco Bell now. And WalMart, and Bed Bath and Beyond, and the bank, plus also to Supercuts for a bang trim. Why am I doing about triple the errands today? Well, first of all, it gets me out of doing the ironing (again), which is never a bad thing. Also, I am such a big old coward that I put it off…and put it off…aaaaaand put it allllll off…until I had a day like today, when Count(Denizens) = 0.

Because when I take them with me? The begging and whining and ‘can’t I just have’ stuff makes me want to lie down on the floor and cry. And in WalMart, this is not a good idea because WalMart customers will simply run right over the top of you to get to the ‘good’ stuff.

Having to go to several stores I’m not all that fond of all in one day is a just punishment for my lack of spine.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Like knowledge, a little makeup is a dangerous thing

I had a rotten night last night. First of all, we stayed up too late. Our own fault, but there it is. Did I know I had to get up early this morning? Yes, yes I did. Did I say to myself, firmly, that I was not going to stay out too late last night? Why yes, I did. Did I tell myself, sternly, that no matter how much fun Those People were being, I was leaving by 7:00, no later than 8:00, and That Was That?

Yes. I did.

Did I listen to myself?

No. No, I did not.

So as I got into bed at midnight last night and set the alarm for 4:30, I had very little sympathy for myself.

Then I had dreams all night that involved running, and trying to make clueless people understand that something dire was happening. I woke up feeling like death warmed over. And then I came downstairs, logged on and tried to pretend I know what the @*^&@ I’m doing on my first day as Job Monitor. {Cape fluttering in wind, heroic stance, look of kindly wisdom on face}

I have no idea what I’m doing. I only hope I don’t break something important here. Because people? I don’t know what I’m doing. While I appreciate the confidence being shown in me here and will attempt to be worthy of my post, I think it is foolhardy to ask me to do this.

Now, I told you that so I could tell you this.

Remember my friend who has taken up selling Mary Kay? She gave me some samples yesterday. I love the format of the samples. It’s got the whole face, the eyeshadow and blush and lipstick, the whole ‘look’, and this little paint-by-numbers thing on it, which is extremely helpful for those of us who ordinarily use eye brushes to poke ourselves in the eye, or to get at really hard to reach parts of the bathroom hardware that need a little swipe of alcohol to remove any e-coli or other potential sources of gastrointestinal distress. (Not that I’m paranoid or anything – but I do go through an awful lot of alcohol and Mr. Clean and other things branded ‘antibacterial’.) (If they put “prevents gastrointestinal distress” on a bottle of cleaning solution, I would buy it and soak my entire house in it, I swear I would – but I digress.)

I herewith submit to you that a little makeup, even as small an amount as is provided in a single-use Mary Kay sample, is a dangerous thing. Let the following cautionary tale be a warning to facial slackers the world over:

Feeling more hag-like than usual this morning, I decided this was the perfect time to put on the samples. I don’t know about anybody else out there, but when I feel BLECH I can often snap myself out of it by dressing myself up a little bit. I guess the psychology is something like, “I can’t feel bad when I look this good”.

So I put on my white angora sweater (oh, the peril! All the Denizens are home today!!), and my new bracelet (which I may wear every day of my life until I die AND THEN I will be buried in it, because I love it that much), and then I daubed myself with one of the Mary Kay samples. It took me about ten minutes to finish poking myself in the eye and putting lipstick up my nose.

I stepped back to survey the damage.

I looked hot.

Partially, anyway. My hair left a lot to be desired.

So I said, “OK, but now you have to do something about that hair.”

I plugged in my curling iron for the first time in about two years and curled my too-long bangs and attempted to bring order to the chaos that is my omnipresent frizzy ponytail ($800 in curling aids and hair sprays and $DEITY only knows what, and what do I always-always-always wear? A ragged ponytail, held by dollar store scrunchies).

Twenty minutes of futzing later, I looked at myself and said, “OK, but now you need earrings.”

So I put on earrings. Add another ten minutes to the getting ready process, because selecting a pair of earrings is a weighty matter, and not something to be rushed into the way you might choose a husband or career.

Then I looked at myself and decided that I need the following:

Eyebrows waxed
Facial sandblasting (or whatever it is you do to get rid of sun damage)
Tummy tuck
Butt lift
Haircut and color
Pants that actually fit
Pedicure

And furthermore, I need all of the above immediately. Today would be good.

I also decided that I am way too hot to be working for a living. Seriously. I ought to be sipping coffee with a vaguely disdainful expression in an outdoor cafĂ© somewhere while the nanny looks after the Denizens. I envision a half-eaten croissant on a plate in front of me, and a constant stream of other made-up women coming and going, laden with tiny shopping bags full of very expensive things, crying, “Darling! How are you?” and doing the ‘mwah-mwah’ air-kiss to the air just above each cheek.

You see how dangerous this stuff is? A little blush and eyeshadow, and suddenly I’m having delusions of grandeur.

And I’d never be able to pull it off.

First of all, there is no way I could leave a croissant half-eaten. Also, I can’t afford a nanny. And besides that, my ‘disdainful’ look actually looks more like ‘been sucking on pickled onions’, and causes random strangers to stop and ask, “Oh, honey, are you OK?!”

But the lipstick isn’t making my lips peel off my face, and I didn’t put my barrier stuff on under the eyeshadow and I don’t have the slightest itch yet…so far, so good.

Now if I can just remember for three seconds that I’m wearing the stuff, and not rub at my face moaning, “Why? WHY DON’T YOU SEE THE LINKED SERVER?!?!”, thus creating a look that would be more appropriate for Crystal the Clown than a Lady Who Lunches, I'd be golden!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Attitude of Gratitude

I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude in my life. When I start getting upset about what-all I don’t have, didn’t accomplish, or otherwise wish was different, I try to stop and remind myself just how good I’ve really got it.

Sometimes, I forget to do that. I’ve been feeling rather angry and sorry for myself these last couple days. Vomiting children will do that to one; and the fact that for two out of the last five days of misery I’ve been on my own with the whole deal added a layer of ‘oh woe is me’ that I admit is a little silly, but still there.

It isn’t that things don’t suck or that I don’t wish some of them were different. But sometimes a healthy dose of perspective can be extraordinarily helpful.

The Daily OM reminded me about that this morning: Empathy in Action: An Experiment in Gratitude.

Because many of us lead comparatively insular lives, we may not comprehend the full scope of our prosperity that is relative to our sisters and brothers in humanity…Understanding working poverty can be as easy as endeavoring to buy nutritious foods with a budget of $100 for the week. If you own a car, relying on public transportation for even just a day can help you see the true value of the comfort and conveniences others do without. As you explore a life without things you may normally take for granted, ask yourself for how long you could endure.

I use public transportation whenever I commute into the office – but I drive my car to the train station. Why? Because the bus system out here is shockingly bad. Perpetually late, uncomfortable to ride, and always taking the milk-route. What takes me five minutes to drive is a twenty minute (or longer) bus ride.

How about this one: I’ve been popping Imodium ($8.50) and Advil Cold & Sinus ($9.79) for the last twenty-four hours. It hasn’t eliminated my symptoms, but it has made them bearable. I know people, who live right here in this same town, for whom going to the drugstore and picking up those two products with their combined price of $18, would be a honest-to-goodness hardship. It would be the medicine, or dinner.

Ouch, huh?

So, as I’m sitting here working while my sick children watch Noggin on the satellite TV, still earning my full paycheck even though we’re all sick, popping my meds and using up Kleenex at a shocking rate, I will attempt to remember to be grateful. For the Kleenex, for Noggin, for the option to go to a doctor (my doctor, as opposed to whoever is on call at the ER) if things get really bad, for Grey Goose vodka (I have a huge, Costco-sized bottle of it left from the Big Birthday Bash) (they drank all of my cheap-a$$ cooking brandy, but left the Grey Goose almost untouched!!), and most of all, for all the friends and family who put up with my endless whining about things that really aren’t that big a deal.

I love you guys.

And that isn’t just the Cold & Sinus meds talking.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

In a word, GAK

Let’s start with something warm and fuzzy, because pretty much the rest of my story today is pretty sad. Well. Sad is probably the wrong word. What’s a word that means ‘illustrative of the concept of Murphy’s Law’?

Behold, the current Sock In Progress:

Sock in progress

This is yet more Knit Picks Simple Stripes, 75% superwash, 25% nylon, self-striping. It is going really fast – I just cast it on Monday night, and considering how many hours I have logged this week work-wise it is miraculous that I have started the charge down the foot toward the toe already.

In other news…it’s back. And this time, it’s for real. Boo Bug is sick, sick, sick. She threw up the last two nights running, and all day today has been lying on the sofa. When I called daycare and sobbed hysterically into the phone inquired as to whether or not anybody else had it, the answer was not only an emphatic ‘yes’ but an ‘oh my god the entire district has it’.

Oh, carp. So I kept her and Captain Adventure home from daycare today, called (and emailed, and instant messaged) my husband saying, “I don’t care if it costs you your JOB, you get home in time to pick up the older two tonight!!!”. I didn’t want to tote her around town while sick, and frankly after talking to daycare about the Raging Stomach Flu Bug that is wiping out the toddler room, I may not send either of them back there until Spring. Or let them out of the house. I’m looking into plastic bubbles to put them in. Preferably made by the makers of Lysol.

Well, not really. But they’re definitely staying home tomorrow. Both of them. I am not woman enough for sick children, I’m just not. I am a person who will start bawling because I see a commercial where a child gets a shot – a good shot! A healthy shot! “Thanks to your generous donations, we’re able to SAVE THIS CHILD’S LIFE with this shot!” WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! {GASP!} They gave that poor, poor baby a shot! Oh, it’s ok, baby, don’t cry, don’t cry {sob sob sob}

I’m so eternally grateful that you don’t have to take a Wuss Test before you have children. I never would have been permitted to have them, if a backbone were required.

But wait! There’s more!!

I was just given a Big Project at work. It’s one of those things where I’m proving to all parties concerned (and mostly myself) that I can handle this level of coding. I kind of, uh, well. Messed up a similar situation most grievously last year, leading to embarrassment and loss of company income, so I have a 18-wheeler sized chip on my shoulder about this right now. Can handle it. Will handle it. End of story.

But Murphy is really giving me a run for my money here.

First, while I was on the phone with my boss discussing said Big Project, the electricians (who were here to fix the disaster left by the furnace people) accidentally touched two things together that should never be touched together and BANG! In a grand and glorious shower of sparks, the entire court goes black.

That’s right. Our repairs caused a small local blackout. Great, huh? And also, right after telling my boss ‘no problem, don’t sweat it’, I had to call him back and say, “Uh, if you’re looking for me, the power just went out and I’m not sure how long it will take to get it back so heh heh, I’ve got no Internet and no work phone [they’re Internet phones].”

Followed by having to send an email this morning saying, “Kids home sick, might be spotty on the availability thing today.”

Nothing says, “Have confidence in me” like having unexpected downtime two days in a row – right before a major deadline.

So my boss called this morning to voice concern about whether or not I was going to be able to get the job done. @*^&@.

As he called this morning to make absolutely sure I was on track with things in spite of It All, The Boy Who Is Staying With Us While His Daddy Works Out of Town came skidding into the office to announce that HE HAD JUST KILLED A MINOTAUR! TWO OF THEM! AND ALSO THEY KILLED HIS HORSE!!!!!!!!!

Have you ever wanted to take a telephone receiver and clobber a nine year old with it? I had not – before that moment. All the noise-filtering-microphones in the world couldn’t hide that particular outburst. I gave him the Expression of Death© and gestured wildly at the door.

To which he replied eagerly (and loudly), “ALSO I TOOK HIS HAMMER BUT IT’S TOO BIG HOW DO YOU DO THAT THING WHERE YOU MAKE THINGS LIGHTER?!”

The urge to hit him, very hard, with the phone receiver, grew.

I got up, put my hand gently on his back, murmured, “I’m on the phone, honey”, pushed him unceremoniously out of the office and shut the door behind him.

See, this is what all those hours of meditation I do is good for. You will note that I did not clobber him with the phone, or yell or scream or fling feces around the office. Calm, genteel behavior; monk-like serenity.

Meditation, dear friends, gives you the ability to lie through your many teeth. My insides were clenched up like an LA freeway at rush hour, and words were rattling around my head that I would blush to admit I even know. Also, I really did want to smack him a good one. I swear, my palms were itching.

But I got through the conversation with the boss OK, and checking my code things were going very well; Boo Bug was on the sofa watching cartoons, Captain Adventure was bumbling around the playroom enjoying his new Christmas toys, and all was well with the world…

…so how come I’m still all clenched up inside? Look, Tama (I said to myself, reasonably), you really need to settle down. It’s OK. Deep, calming breaths. Just relax. Let the breath come in, hold briefly, let it go. It’s OOOOOOOOOOOOO-kaaaaaaaaaay. We’re all good here. He’s only a child and he’s not used to a work-at-home parent, and besides, you’re not really mad at him you’re just anxious about the whole situation…ooooohm….oooooohm…..oooooooMY-GOD-BATHROOM-NOW!!!!!!!!!!

Arr, matey, the scurvy germ-bugs have boarded, and worked their way to the poop deck.

It is going to be a very interesting few days around the Den, methinks. A very interesting few days…

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tuckered out

Monday was a busy day of frustrations (“Who restarted this job? Did I or did I not tell You People !NOT! to restart this job?! The job was 99% finished! Now it’s starting over! I could have had this whole thing over in, like, twenty minutes! But nooooooo! Now the job has truncated the table and it will be eight-nine HOURS before the data is re-pulled…!!!!!!@*^&@*^&@!!!!!!”) and wrestling data to the ground.

Tuesday was more of the same. Fie, feh, out upon it! Lots of stupidity all around. And also lots of very smart people trying to be helpful without realizing that their really clever solution is not meshing well with the Beavis and Butthead reality of the underlying process. It’s a lot like putting a Volkswagen Bug engine into a Porsche, you know?

Then today arrived. Today, everything was in place. Today was the day for rolling up the sleeves and getting the deals done.

My email outbox was like a semi-automatic rifle. BAM! BAM BAM BAM BAM!!

I sat back a few minutes ago, rubbing at my eyeballs and saying, wearily, “Hokay. What next.”

I have several things still on my task list. All of them are long, involved, cerebral monstrosities which will require many hours of uninterrupted thought. Feh. But, I chose one and decided that after I made a cup of tea and updated my timesheet, I’d go ahead and start that one.

Boiled water. Rubbed eyelids.

Measured tea. Yawned.

Realized I had used the tablespoon measure instead of the teaspoon measure for the tea. Cursed. (I love this tea. It’s another Boca Java product, Chai Beach. It’s what I consider to be ‘real’ chai – it is strong black tea, heavily spicy with orange and clove and other things. It reminds me of the chai I used to get at Renaissance Faire at Mullahs, which is a whole post-topic all its own.)

Stood staring out the window while the water heated. This is unusual for me, I’m usually way too twitchy to just…stand there. Yawned.

Fed the sea monkeys. Crouched down to watch them go nuckin’ futz with joy. Smiled.

Poured boiling water over tea. Muttered to self all the way back into the office: Lessee, I started on that one thing at 10:30, there was the phone meeting at 11:00 on that other thing, got back to the first thing at 12:00…

Then, I updated my timesheet. I am at 31 hours for the week. At 3:30, on Wednesday.

Holy carp. No wonder I’m perpetually yawning and my eyeballs are threatening to pop right out of my head and throw themselves into the sink in search of moisture!

I pondered for a long, long moment. On the one hand, if I keep working, I could potentially take Friday as an ‘available but not working’ day. Shoot. Half of Thursday, too.

On the other…I really am tired. My brain is cringing at the thought of dealing with what I need to deal with. My eyeballs are tired. My back is tired. My brain wants a time out on the thinking thing. My eyeballs would like to stare at some eye candy on TV. My back would like a cushy seat.

On second thought, I’m going to log out for the day, fling myself into my rocking chair, and turn the heel on my Sock In Progress while watching something lame on TV.

Sometimes telecommuting is better than potato chips, people.

Especially if you remember to turn the ringer off on the old cell phone...

ROFLMAO du jour

So, I just joined a Yahoo! group. Apart from Freecycle, this is the first such group I’ve ever joined. It’s Knitting 4 Children, and it looks like it’ll be fun. Charity knitting for hospitals – yessir. That’s my idea of a happenin’ party.

ANYWAY.

I got an email from the list, and it had a bunch of ‘sponsored links’. Charity donations…charitable organizations…knitting yarn…woodcraft…witchcraft

Whaaaaaat?

So I had to do it. I had to click on Witchcraft. And the following list of gems came up:

Have Other Spells Failed?
Our spells are guaranteed successful. We have spells for anything you could ever dream of. Visit us mortal and get a taste of real power.
www.moonspells.org

Powerful Jane Mills Rebuilding Love
Jane Restores Love, Passion, Romance, Commitment. Stop Divorce Now.
www.successfulspells.com

Spell Casting by Andreika the Witch
Spell casting by Andreika, the most powerful witch of all. Her work is absolutely guaranteed, or your money back!
www.spellmasters.com

Witchcraft Secrets & Spells Revealed
Have you ever craved to have magic powers? Learn how to cast spells and rituals. 3 free spells for money, love and good luck.
www.ppctrk.com

Grandmas Ancient Witchcraft Secrets
How To Bring Love, Wealth, Protection, and a Flood of Amazing Miracles to Your Life using the Magick Energy You Were Born With. Follow the Simple Steps to Change Your Life Almost Instantly.
www.1shoppingcart.com

OH MY EVER LIVIN’ DAWG!!!!

$DEITY save us from auto-generated ‘sponsored links’. If anybody ever wanted to know why I don’t do the AdSense thing…ta da!!! This is why. I would be well and truly pissed if something like this came up on my site as a ‘sponsored link’, instead of ‘part of a blog entry about how silly these things are’.

Hmm. I wonder if any of them could do a ‘yarn stash enhancement’ spell…

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

And now, an utterly meaningless ramble

I have a mild cold. In some ways, this is worse than a full-blown Death By Cold Germ cold. Well. Actually, it is only worse in this one way, to wit: I don’t feel miserable enough to go curl up on the couch and sniffle mournfully to myself. I feel miserable enough to whine about it, and miserable enough to take Dayquil, and miserable enough to wish I was on the couch – but not miserable enough to actually abandon my post and do so.

Which reeks.

Also, I need more coffee. Not ‘a coffee’, which involves frothy milk and other such nonsense. No. What I need right now, right immediately now, is a cup (pot) of good old fashioned brewed coffee. I’m thinking maybe some Cool Breeze Columbian from Boca Java. My coffee club is my last luxury-grocery holdout, and I’m holding onto it with all ten fingernails.

I don’t need it for my body, people – it is my soul which needs to be drinking in the heavenly aroma, the bitter resolve, the delicate blend of flavors, sweet and bitter and acidic and rich.

I need a cup of ambition, and I need it now.

I understand that other people don’t ‘get’ my coffee fixation. I accept that, in the same way that I accept (sort of) the fact that there are people in this world who think wine in general is “icky” and cabernet is “get thee behind me SATAN!” on the nasty-scale.

Which brings me to my yarn stash.

My stash has realized that there is hope – yea, verily! – there is hope given even unto the smallest, most forgotten skeins languishing in the box beneath the box beneath the Space Bags containing the remnant balls of wool. The ball heard from the skein that the hank heard someone say that I am not going to be buying any new yarn for a while, and…well…

It has begun talking to me.

That’s right. My yarn is possessed, and speaking in tongues only I, through the grace of the Woolly Spirit, am able to understand.

I have some Cascade 220 in deep purple that wants to be a Ragna (scroll down, it’s the sweater in orange). Although I have informed the C220 that a) there isn’t enough of it to make this sweater and b) it is the wrong weight for it, it insists that it would make a stunning Ragna and that besides, I’m totally going to want to hack a good 8” off the chest size, which surely would save the yardage of a skein or two. Go down a needle size or two, I’ll be PERFECT, it murmurs in sultry tones.

The kitchen cotton would like to remind me that there is no such thing as too many dish towels. Several balls of Knit Picks Palette in assorted colors claim that even though they aren’t machine washable, they would still make really sweet little baby outfits.

I couldn’t really hear what they were saying, what with there being several boxes and a few Space Bags stuffed with Merino Style on top of them and all, but I think the black alpaca skeins were putting in a vote for being made into a drapy shawl. Maybe the Snowdrop shawl. Like I said, it was hard to hear them.

And of course the aforementioned Merino Style has been slipping all kinds of magazine articles about the benefits of wearing good, warm hats and gloves everywhere one goes under my eyeballs. I keep putting away my Weekend Knits books, and somehow, mysteriously, it keeps ending up sitting on my desk.

It really is becoming rather childish, you know? I’m on to you, Merino Style! I’ll get to you when I get to you, and not a moment before!

Which brings me to children.

It has finally happened: Boo Bug lost her jacket. Her brand new jacket. The $50 jacket with the down lining and genuine faux fur that made her look like a little pink Eskimo. Her only “decent” jacket.

She lost it.

This, friends, was an especially good trick because she did not at any time leave the school premises. This is not school-school. This is daycare-school. It is small. It has two wee little playgrounds, contained within rather large fences. There are only six classrooms. The jacket does not have a whole lot of good hiding places, is what I’m getting at here.

And yet? Gone. Cannot be found. Was on her body when she walked in, could not be found when it was time for the body to walk out again.

The mind boggles. It truly does.

Also, I did not finish putting away the laundry yesterday (sheesh, less than two weeks into the new year, and already I’m slacking off) (but, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was on last night, and…well…it was in Technicolor and…uh…well. I got distracted.), so I put the rest of it away today. Then I fixed the two rumpled shirts with a baleful gaze for a while before putting them away in the closet. I will refuse to acknowledge their existence until next Tuesday, because I do not feel like ironing right now.

In point of fact, what I feel like doing is this: Taking a shower, picking up the Denizens early so I can give the nine year old visitor somebody else to talk to for a while, and then curl up in my rocking chair with my Sock In Progress and watch the news from 5:00 to 7:00 and then serve up fish sticks and applesauce for dinner. After the reception my beef casserole got last night from them, it would be heralded as the Best Cooking Ever™ by the Denizens (and guest).

Kids. They wouldn’t know good food if it walked up and bit them.

The Last of the Mohicans

There is a nine year old boy in the Den right now. Just him and me, right now. That’s right. Just the two of us. His daddy and my husband are out of the house, the Denizens are all off to school, and here we are. The two of us.

If I ever said Boo Bug was bad about talking non-stop…I knew not of what I spoke. This kid has cornered the market on the non-stop talking thing.

“You know what? You know what else? And then? I was playing this video game? And I was like RRRROAM! And he was like WHOA! And I was like YEAH THAT’S RIGHT and then he was like BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM and I was like DUDE! and he was like DUDE! and then? I shot his arms off and there was blood and it was gross and he said, DUDE! And I said DUDE! and then? My dad? He said…”

Holy carp.

Supposedly, he is doing his homework. But in reality, he is asking me for help with his homework. Which is a euphemism for Attempting to Con Me Into Doing It For Him.

Every.
Single.
Piece.
Of.
It.

“I hafta write spelling sentences. I hafta use the word ‘decimal’. What’s a decimal? I can’t find it in the dictionary. Oh. There it is. You know what my dad says? Blah blah blah…Aunt Tama? What does pah…pah…oh. Pertisk…Pertask…(Tama gets up from her desk [again], says the word) ‘Pertaining’ mean? Oh. Ha ha. You’re funny. I know it’s a dictionary! But can’t you just tell me? This is haaaaaaaaard. I don’t get it, because pertaining means…Aunt Tama? What’s a decimal? Sooooooo…if I write a sentence about a decimal…how would I do that? Oh! This one time? I wrote this sentence…?”

Whew. Eldest has spoiled me on this front. Set that girl down with a list of ten spelling words and instructions to write a ten word sentence for each of them, and five minutes later she’s handing you the eight year old equivalent of War and Peace with a bored yawn and one word: “Finished.” She’s not only a fast homework-doer, but one of those kids who has to ask what the maximum sentence length is. Because this one time? She wrote this sentence? And it was, like, DUDE!

It isn’t like I can drop him in front of a video game and get rid of him distract him for a while. Oh no. He’s one of those “interactive” game players (or cartoon watchers, or book readers, or artists, or anything else-er I’ve tried thus far) (not that I would do such a thing, being as how I’m not the kind of person who would attempt to plug a kid into a fantasy non-reality in an attempt to get five minutes of @*^&@ing peace and quiet around here) (if you do not see the big fat fib in the preceding digression…read it again. It is plain as the nose on your face). He wants to make me a part of every single thing he does, all day.

Fortunately (OK, not sure that’s the right word, really), I worked until rather late last night, and started very early morning this morning – so I’m ahead on hours and ahead on tasks and am pretty sure I’ll get through today without locking him out in the backyard with a bottle of water and a box of graham crackers.

All kidding aside, it isn’t half as annoying as I’m making it out to be – mostly because this is it. This is it, people! The last houseguests of the holiday season. The last of the Mohicans is currently in my Den: After he and his dad depart, the Den will be back to its usual covey of six.

The holiday season is something of a whirlwind season around the Den. Lots of coming and going, plans changing, expecting twenty dinner guests and ending up with three, or expecting three and finding ourselves with twelve. People calling at the last second to see if they can crash with us, because they left San Diego five hours later than they expected and aren’t going to be making Redding tonight…The washing machine constantly going…the dishwasher constantly chugging…the coffee maker constantly dripping.

It’s a lot of fun, in a crazy kind of way. It’s a very good time of year for me to practice my zen-like acceptance that Things Change, usually when you least expect it, and to just go with whatever happens.

And then, as suddenly as it began, almost always right around the time I’m starting to wonder if we will ever, and I mean ever, have a weekend to ourselves again…silence begins to fall. The doorbell stops ringing daily. The living room stays picked up. Children return to school. Glory be, there may be a work day or two where there is nobody else in the Den attempting to pretend they aren’t here while we work. Nobody arriving that afternoon, two hours early and dragging exhausted children behind them.

And then suddenly…I’ll realize that the person currently curling up on my sleeper-sofa is the last person who’ll be there for a while. That when they’re gone, I’ll be able to wash those sheets and put them away.

That this is it.

The last of the holiday houseguests.

…is it utterly evil of me to add a “…thank goodness” to that?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Just how bamfoozled am I, you ask?

People. I want you to look at this picture. And then, I would like you to tell me: what do you think is the daily dose? Is it two? Four? Half a dozen? A fistful? Maybe an oodle or a peck?

One-one-ONE a day

Or might it instead be…one?

I bring this up as an illustration of just how exhausted/confused/distracted I am right now. Because this morning, I grabbed two of these, paused…and then began scanning the bottle for the dosing instructions because I couldn’t remember: was it one, or two?

Looking for dosing instructions on the bottle of ONE (1) A DAY vitamins.

Even though they tell me - TWICE! - right on the label. One. 1.

What do I need here, people? Do they need to call them One (1) (Uno) (Eins) (Ichi) (Moja) A Day?

**sigh**

Only fifteen (15) more years to retirement, people, only fifteen (15) more years...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Done, done, DONE

Well, almost done, anyway.

I ran out of ambition about three hours ago and figured that was a good time to take my lunch break and handle my Special Project of the Week (drum roll, please): Cleaning out the toy boxes.

I knew it would be a dirty job. I knew it would be a frightening job. I knew it would be a big job. I knew I would face an endless stream of candy wrappers, dirty socks, mismatched toys belonging to sets that had been destroyed months, if not years, prior. I knew it would be tiring, back-achy kind of work.

I spent an hour chipping away at it. And then I returned to working for, you know, a paycheck, grousing about how my children constantly put their dirty socks in the toy box and then complain about how they have no clean socks.

An hour later, I realized that I still had no ambition and was, in fact, dilly-dallying about. Now, I recognize that in Real Life, people do this all the time at work. What I have been doing for the last hour is the database analyst version of rearranging identical deck chairs on a cruise ship. “Let’s try this one over here…hmm…no, no, I think I liked it better over there…”

People, it’s not even Nice To Have stuff. It’s pure And Now, Tama Plays Around To See Which Version of This Takes the Least Time To Run, In Seconds.

So I spent the third hour trying to force myself to be proactive. I have been encountering nothing but ‘out of office’ emails and other people saying, “Dude, can we talk about this Monday? I’m really not in the mood right now” (well, not in as many words, but I’m very good at reading the subtext).

It really isn’t fair to bill the client for this, and since I seem to be mentally incapable of moving into New Work on a Friday after lunch, I think I’m going to take a couple hours vacation time (I’m going into 2007 with three weeks in PTO coming to me…and I will be receiving another five weeks over the course of the year AND I have precisely how many vacations-as-such planned? That would be…0. None, nada, zip, zilch. No plans, no desires, no interest, ho hum.) and call it a week.

However, that said…I don’t want to go face the Toy Situation again, either. The hallway is stuffed with boxes and bags and oodles and scads of toys.

This is on top of the still-stuffed toy boxes.

We are not the kind of parents who buy toys for our kids all the time. They get toys at Christmas, and their birthdays, and that’s about it. But we also don’t purge them very often. So the MegaBlocs (suitable for the 12-18 month old in your life) that nobody has even shrugged at for months languish away at the bottom of the toy box with the aforementioned mismatched toys that go to Diego’s Rescue Center (circa 2004, 85% of it long missing due to breakage or loss).

And then, every once in a great while, something happens that drives me to get off my duff and handle it. Something like, say, uh…Christmas. Christmas, wherein all four Denizens received new toys. Wonderful new toys. A cornucopia of glistening plastic things that go BEEP!

The other night I was trying to put the middle two to bed, and I realized that I couldn’t shut their bedroom door.

Or open it all the way.

Because their entire bedroom had not wall to wall carpet, but wall to wall toys.

They had done their best to clean up (well, sort of done their best), but there was literally no room in the inn. There is nowhere for the toys to go.

So I put it on the list of Special Projects, and decided that today had better be the day due to the arrival of the charity truck next week.

And now, I am frightened by the sheer magnitude of what I have undertaken.

Also, I am terrible at this. I have real trouble getting rid of toys. Not quite as much as with yarn, but I still have this warm, fuzzy glow around toys. “Oh, I remember when I’d read this to Eldest, when she was a baby!” or “Oh gosh, Boo Bug used to chew and chew on these little rings…” or “Well, hello little Disney princess! Where’s the rest of your set?”

And even though my children don’t play with them or want anything to do with them, I insist that it’s a perfectly good set and, if I just put them in order so that the children can see what they’re missing, they will pounce and play for hour upon blissful hour with the Care Bear Cloud Kingdom set. (Which they will not. They never have. They don’t like the set, and don’t want to play with it. It is cheesy plastic and they can smell the cheap on it.)

Undaunted (and desperate not to wuss out on my pathetic excuse of a New Year deal quite this soon), I’m logging off now and heading up.

Pray for me, friends.

Pray for me.

[This was the last entry ever received from Mother Chaos. At last report, she was being swept westward toward the open sea after having unwittingly released an avalanche of small plastic blocks and marbles from an innocent looking closet.]

Disasters large or small

Another public service announcement (read as, nagging session): Are you ready ‘in case’?

If there’s a good-sized disaster (fill in the one your region is prone to – out here, it’s earthquakes) and things are crazy-insane-mad for a few days, no running water, no electricity, no phone or fax or {shudder} Internet…are you going to be OK?

I had cause to notice our disaster kit was a little sub-prime when we removed it from Behemoth and discovered the water had expired two years before, the medicines were way past their shelf life, the flashlight had vanished…the list of AWOL items goes on.

So, right after we got Homer I went online to Be Prepared and bought one of these: Trekker 4-Person 72-Hour Emergency Kit. It contains the bare-bones essentials to get four people through three days worth of ‘aaaaaaah!’. They also have smaller versions for couples or singles.

It arrived today and it is cool. Very comprehensive list of goodies, with a pair of sturdy daypacks Mom and Dad can use to tote it all – the entire kit fit into the two bags, with room to spare. The 3600 calorie bar is the kind of thing you would only eat under pretty dire circumstances (IMHO), but hey. If it’s dire? We’ll be glad it’s there.

I’ve supplemented it with other things, making it more suitable for a family of six, some MREs and wool blankets (space blankets are OK, but give me wool any day), plus the comprehensive first aid kit from the old van (this first aid kit is designed for backpackers, with double the medications and the addition of children strength Tylenol melt-aways) and will keep it out in Homer, just in case.

You don’t have to buy an expensive kit like this one – our previous version was basically camping stuff in a ratty old box. You don’t have to be prepared for the End of All Things, build a bunker and stuff it with five year’s worth of canned goods. Just think it through, and be able to take care of yourself and your family for a few days in case the unthinkable happens.

A few days worth of food-that-doesn’t-perish, the ability to make heat and light in the absence of electricity or natural gas flowing through the grid, and enough clean water to hold you and yours for a few days not only saves you discomfort, but contributes to the official people’s ability to get things back to normal. It’s a lot easier to get things done when you don’t have thousands of people line up screaming that they’re hungry and thirsty and cold and hafta go potty.

Trust me on that one. This is the voice of experience speaking.