Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We had a hard day

Captain Adventure got up at 4:35 this morning, and he has been happy for precisely 39 seconds between then and now.

Yeah, OK, I’m exaggerating.

It was 40 seconds, and I know it.

These are the times when his speech delay becomes not merely ‘bothersome’ or ‘a little troubling’, but accelerates right into pisses me off.

And with that, I fully admit to being a rotten parent. I actually get mad at my son because he doesn’t really know how to communicate in words yet. I looked at him late this afternoon, as he rolled around on the floor yowling like a wounded animal and refusing to look at me, and I thought…What the @*^&@ is the MATTER with you?!

I stepped over his writhing form, paused to pat his back (which he did not appreciate, because could I not see that he was being MAD right now?!) and said, “Hooookay, let me know how that works out for you. When you’re ready to TALK TO ME, I’ll be right over here.”

Then I sat down nearby and attempted to pretend the sound of his yowling wasn’t like a thousand nails on the chalkboard of my soul. It remains the fastest way to snap him out of these fits; attempts to coddle him only make it worse, while a heapin’ plateful of ignoring him tends to bring him sniffling over for a cuddle sooner.

Although ‘sooner’ is a relative term. Five minutes having your soul ripped apart by a thousand fingernails may technically be ‘sooner’ than half an hour spent arguing with someone about a parking space, but it doesn’t feel that way.

I often find myself lying awake at night wondering who on earth thought it was a good idea to put all these children into my care without supervision. I have no qualifications, I have no training, no hard-earned skills. Shouldn’t somebody have stopped me, shouldn’t someone have given me a test at the hospital and then said, “Oops, sorry, kids are too advanced for you – have you thought about fostering kittens instead?”

I’m making this “parenting” crap up as I go along. And then I have hard days and I question what I thought I was doing having even one, let alone FOUR. I can’t juggle four! How many times did Boo Bug have to ask for things today, how long did she have to wait for even simple things because I was dealing with a pissy little brother?

I’m pretty sure other moms are better at this stuff than me. I bet they don’t snap, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak ‘whiny child’! Can you say that again in plain, un-whiny English?!” at their five year old when she starts whining about the milk you said you’d get her ten minutes ago, before her brother went into super-nuclear-melt-down mode.

I bet the little brother never goes into super-nuclear-melt-down mode to begin with, too.

Also they don’t pull a napkin out of the drawer when they get slimed by an overly enthusiastic kiss from their toddler and realize that it is positively stiff with…something bright yellow…or go to make themselves a nice salad and THEN realize that they put the salad into the crockpot with the roast and that what they left in the drawer are the braising greens (yuck!).

And they certainly don’t then decide that leftover birthday cake will simply have to do. Stale leftover birthday cake. With icing so hard it could break a tooth.

No. It was not the best of days around here today.

But at the same time, all my kids are still speaking to me – even Captain Adventure, who grudgingly admitted to an ‘owie’ in his mouth [throat] and found his happy again once bubblegum-flavored Tylenol was administered.

So I guess I’m doing OK, overall.

Until tomorrow, when I’ll probably mess it all up yet again.

At least the cake is finally all gone.

On a related note… ice cream counts as a dairy serving, right…?

Monday, July 30, 2007

A checkbook of my very own

My husband and I each get an allowance every month to spend on Whatever. His money goes into “his” checking account, and mine, well, I just sort of have an expense category in the general fund.

It never seemed to work out for me, somehow. See, the idea here is, if you want to buy something that costs more than your monthly allowance, well, you just don’t spend your money for a while and let it build up and there you go.

Works great for Himself.

For me, not so much.

For me, somehow, any money I hadn’t spent at the end of the month simply vaporizes at midnight on the last day of the month. On day one, I had the exact amount of my monthly allowance, and no more.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t look up how much I should have and, with that figure firmly in mind, sail forth for the yarn store – it was that I had this mental block around it. I never had more than my monthly allowance in my mind, even if I hadn’t spent a dime of it in six months.

I would refuse to buy things I wanted early in the month on the theory that I still had X days to go and the following social engagements to attend and also I hadn’t gotten my nails done yet and buying that $10 thing was PERILOUS, ENTIRELY and I had better just hold off until the end of the month, when I’d have a better idea just how much money I really had…

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I’ve been trying to work my way around this mental blocks for years. Occasionally, I’ve managed to actually spend my money (oddly, this tends to coincide with fiber festivals), but month after month – a substantial percentage of it simply disappears at the stroke of midnight, Day 30(31).

No more.

I finally did it.

I opened a checking account of my very own, and I transferred the ‘mad money’ I haven’t spent over the last twelve months into it, and I set up an automatic transfer for my full allowance amount and then I patted myself on the back and said, “Good girl! Way to seize hold of what is yours!” None of this ‘oh, that’s OK, I’ll just go sit in the corner and eat worms’ crap for me, no sir! I’m going to carpe cash-ium like my husband does, and I’m going to actually spend it ON ME, FOR ME, because I am worth it.

AND THEN I looked at the balance, and I said, “Dang, girl, you could have some fun with that!” Donald Trump would not be impressed with the balance, but little old me was positively a-twitter with the possibilities.

And then…this odd glint came into my eye. And a weird smile began to twitch at the corners of my mouth.

I am not a well person, people.

NORMAL PEOPLE, when given money that is ‘mad money’, money which is theirs to toy with, money that is BY DESIGN supposed to be spent on frivolity, will spend it on frivolities.

They will spend it on manicures, or power tools, or dancing girls, or fancy cigars, you know, whatever.

Your faithful (but mentally unstable) correspondent does not do these things.

Oh no.

Instead, she begins muttering strange things to herself. Things like “high yield savings” and “what if I got my seller’s permit and…”

What makes this truly sick and also sad is…it’s better than a trip to the day spa for me. I’m happier than a tick in a fat dog’s ruff right now, scheming away in my rocking chair while making the last (thank.DAWG.) of the preemie hats for the month.

I love these small-time schemes and challenges, taking risks and trying to be cunning enough to collect a reward rather than a (richly deserved) kick in the teeth. And suddenly having this money to toy with, well.

It’s going to be interesting to see what I actually end up doing, I think. I’m either going to start building a miniature empire over here, or, I’m going to (re)learn how to just spend the money on fun stuff.

I used to be really, really good at just spending money. Like a drunken sailor on his first shore leave in six months, actually. YEE HAW! Drinks on me and yes! I’d LOVE to buy this dress for $325!! YIPPEE!!!!

MAYBE I’ll learn how to do that again. I’m taking a stab at it this weekend, actually. Although I’ve already scaled back the original plan to about 30% of its original glory, and am chipping away at that remaining 30% with every passing minute. (Maybe instead of wasting money on food while I’m out and about all weekend, I could use photosynthesis…)

So then again, it may be that I’ll make a tiny but deeply satisfying fortune doing the things I used to do as sideline income opportunities before the mortgage-n-minivan era slammed into my like a load of bricks. This time there is a huge difference: The money I make doesn’t have to immediately be mailed off to creditors.

It’s mine. Mine, for me. I can keep the profits. Or I can spend them wildly on pedicures and smoothies.

Or Disney Cruises, if I have a particularly stunning year.

You know what I just realized?

I’ve cured my Blah. I’m excited, and interested, and engaged in it. SOMETHING IS FUN AGAIN!!

Now that right there is worth every penny in my brand-spankin’-new checking account!

Not…uh…that I’m willing to give any of it up. SO DON’T ASK ME!

I can think of ten good reasons to never let go of a dime, boy! <== Bonus points if you can name the reference!!!


Your Score: Ogham

You scored

You are Ogham, an ancient alphabet used by a number of peoples in northern Europe and still in limited use by some people in Europe as a "secret language". You're all structure and tedious to use, but have outlasted all opposition so far and will likely continue to do so. Just don't expect to be liked.

Link: The Which Ancient Language Are You Test written by imipak on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test


Snatched from School.Work.Cook.Knit.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Coming along

The painting is going well. ‘Well’ should be pronounced ‘without major incident and/or outbreaks of severe bickering between the spouses’.

Blue Blue Blue

My husband the artist is going back in to ‘refine’ the curves and do the finish work after this last coat dries. He is handy that way. My ‘finish’ work, on the other hand, looks absolutely appalling. And also will never actually be finished, because every time I go in to touch up what I messed up last time, no matter HOW CAREFULLY I tape off, no matter HOW CAUTIOUSLY I approach the area to be fixed up with the tiniest brush we have delicately dipped in paint, I will somehow manage to get huge daubs of the stuff all over the other parts of the wall. And drips. And bubbles. And any other painting-related horror you can think of.

I am a painter’s worst nightmare. “Hello Bob the Builder, your assistant today will be Tama…” “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

It occurred to us that really, it was about time to move Captain Adventure into a bed. He is, after all, three years old, no longer being imprisoned for an hour or two each day so mommy can sit down by herself for a minute taking naps, and hopefully about to start potty training.

It is time.

Given that we are putting waves on the walls, we got a case of the snickers and decided we would get this bed for him:

Sailing, Sailing, over the ocean bluuuue

I know. Cutesy-wootsie. But he is only three, so we figure we’ve got a good seven to ten years before he starts swooning from The Shame Which Is A Baby-Waby Beddie-Weddie. Also, it has a toy chest in the bow and a trundle bed under the hull (which if we took the trundle out is a massive drawer) (but we won’t, because we are constantly short on sleeping space when people visit – go figure), which makes it a pretty darned functional piece of fun kid furniture.

When I bought the bed, they gave me such a ridiculously fabulous price on a matching dresser that I said, Sure! They then offered me a nightstand and I said, Eh, naw! And a desk and I said, No thanks!

Because I have a solid oak desk that needs a new home, and perhaps also a new life. It is one of those pieces which you can’t damage, no matter how hard you try. Five thousand years from now, when they are excavating the ground on which the Den once stood, they will find this desk – INTACT! – and the lead archeologist will say, profoundly, “Geeable bizbliffem bak!” and everyone will nod wisely and say, “Ooogaahya…”

But that’s just a guess. I actually have no insight into how the language of the future will sound.

Anyway, after the kids are back in school and I can actually do such things during the week without a lot of “help”, I’ll be sanding the damaged bits off and repainting it with the lighter blue. Ordinarily I’m one of those ‘oh, don’t paint over that beautiful wood!’ people, but honestly? This desk? The wood is not so beautiful. It is at best ‘eh’ and at worst…ugly.

Paint! Paint! Paint! Paint!

Being indestructible, I doubt even Captain Adventure will be able to total it.

I just hope he likes it. He’s a funny little dude that way, actually – on the one hand, he tends to go with the flow (as long as mommy is there to cling to) and doesn’t get too bothered by disruptions like new school schedules or Go, Diego, Go! being on at 9:30 instead of 8:30. On the other, he will occasionally react to change the same way a fish yanked out of water does: Flopping wildly and doing everything in his power to get back into the water. And we’ll be jerking his chain a bit, because the paint won’t be dry so he won’t be allowed to explore it just yet, PLUS he will be camping out in his biggest sister’s room until his new furniture arrives on Friday…I dunno. It might be a little much for a kid to take, ya know?!

So wish us luck, people. We are messing around with our Lord and Master’s private chambers here…and disobedience will be most severely punished!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Painting for my Own Twoo Lurve

Go ahead. Ask me what I’m doing today.

Why, I’m painting Captain Adventure’s bedroom!! See?


He turns three tomorrow, and I figured that it was high time we actually, ya know, finished the kid’s room.

Never let it be said that I am in danger of being ‘proactive’.

A coat of primer is drying even now, and soon we will begin the process of putting pale blue on the upper half, and ‘star command’ blue on the bottom half, and he will officially have the fanciest paint job in the Den. Because goodness knows, doing a two-toned paint theme in his bedroom totally makes up for the fact that we brought him home from the hospital and said, “Oh, uh, where exactly are we gonna put this kid?”.

And then walling up the retreat and leaving it that way, with raw drywall and dinged up walls for, uh, well, a really long time.

After all, it was such a surprise and all. We only had a year of deciding whether or not to go for it followed by a mere nine months of gestation before suddenly and without warning we went in for a planned c-section and came home with !SURPRISE! a new baby.

A new baby…who turns three tomorrow. My babysitter observed that my son, like hers, is an awful lot like a miniature boyfriend – not ‘spouse’, but boyfriend. You know, for all the reasons that they never progress from boyfriend TO spouse, because they’re needy and clingy and demanding and otherwise want to control every aspect of your life, including when you go to the bathroom and how long you spend in there.

Eh. What can I say. He’s cute, has a great laugh and gives great kisses. I think I’ll keep him.

Lurve, twoo lurve…

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Seems as though everybody I talk to is exhausted and pissy and otherwise not interested in whatever anybody else has to say right now. We answer the phone like this: “Hello! What the @*^&@ do you want, anyway? Who is this? Who gave you this number?! Did I say I wanted a call from some @*^&@ head salesperson tonight I DO NOT THINK I DID! Who is this? WHO IS THIS AND WHAT DUMB THING ARE YOU TRYING TO SELL ME?! Oh. Uh. Hi, Mom…”

I would hate to be a telemarketer trying to hit up anybody in my friends-n-family group right now, that’s all I’m saying.

I have come to the conclusion that there is a major epidemic of Blah going around. It’s highly contagious, can spread even without direct physical contact (for example, just reading this may be putting you in danger of catching it) (does you no good to click away, OH NO! You have already been exposed!) and once you get it, it is about as hard to get rid of as mono.

It first hit me, hard, a few weeks ago. I’ve given up fighting it. Seriously. I’m done fighting it. Hello, how are you, I’m pissy, tired, bored and not interested in anything you have in mind to make me less so, thanks all the same.

I have blamed late nights and early mornings. When those were in the rearview mirror, I started blaming ‘pre-vacation fretting’, and then ‘we’re on vacation’ and then ‘we just got home from a vacation’. But at this point, I’ve got to just say it like it is: I have a serious, flat gray case of the Blahs.

Gray from head to foot.

Oh. Except my hair. See, after all my ranting and raving about ‘letting it all go’…I found a box of hair dye in my bathroom drawer. And then I debated with myself: throw it out, or use it. Hmm…toss, or use…hmm…

I used it.

Hel-LO! I look like I fell into a vat of cherry Kool-Aid. At this point in the diatribe I would like to say, “…so I’m going to have a really cool racing stripe in a couple months, with cherry-kool-aid red and mouse-brown and gray!”, but I think we all know that I will be heading out in due course to search (in vain) for some mouse-brown dye to lay over the cherry so that my gray can begin to show in peaceful surroundings, at which point I will undoubtedly find a ‘perfectly decent’ color at the dollar store or something and off we’ll go to the races again.

Bet on the chestnut, people. The old gray mare, she ain’t got no stayin’ power.


Yes. Blah. That’s what I’ve got.

Children, because of their inability to understand that behaving like this when Mommy has a case of the Blahs will lead to their deaths in a fiery cloud of pissed-off-mommy-shrieking tender years, catch it faster than most adults.

The Denizens are bored, BUT DON’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING I SUGGEST (hmm, why is this sounding familiar?), and are combining utter lethargy with bouncing-bouncing-bouncing like little maniacs at the most inopportune moments.

Like, say, bedtime. Which is of course when I am even more tired than I was all day and really just want to fall face-first into my bed and dream of the days when I could stay up all night partying and then go to work the next morning fresh as a daisy. Or lie in bed wishing my hips didn’t ache so much, and wondering why it is that other people go to their doctor complaining that they have ‘persistent low back pain’ and get endless prescriptions cheerfully paid for by their prescription plans for OxyContin, while I get “well, why don’t you just go ahead and try taking four (five, six) Motrin every four hours for a while and see how that works”, which on the one hand is nice and easy but on the other hand is not covered by my prescription drug plan. No $20 copay for me, heaven’s no. I’ve got to go ahead and pay the $20 a bottle twice a month.


What doctors are these other people going to? Because I think I’d like a switch.

Not really. As good as spending the rest of my life in a drug-induced haze may sound at this exact moment, well. There are downsides.

I can’t think of any at this exact moment, but I’m pretty sure I will once I have gotten over the Blahs.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hot freezer

I was putting out the trash (in my PJs, which is utterly disgraceful but I was not about to get dressed again just so I could haul the trash out, thank you all the same) (can you tell I was caught a bit off-guard by the call from the husband about how he wasn’t going to be doing this particular household chore tonight due to late arrival home?!) and puttering around collecting the recycling and I thought I’d do the cardboard AND THEN…

…I made a discovery.

When I went to add more “reuse worthy” boxes to the couple already in the slot between the upright freezer and the wall, I discovered that the sides of the freezer were…a bit warm.

Actually, kind of hot.

Now, not hot in a ‘and then I yowled and snatched my scorched fingers away’ kind of way. But hot in a way that made me say to myself, “Hang on here, Self, I don’t think shoving paper products up against this is necessarily the best idea ever.”

And then I looked up at the top of the freezer.

For years, I resisted the urge to put things on top of the freezer. I had this memory, vague and utterly lacking scientific base, that…well, you just weren’t supposed to put Stuff on top of your stand-up freezer. Or fridge. But at that moment, I honestly couldn’t tell you if there was a mechanical reason (overheating) or if it were purely a My Mom-ism: “Good housekeepers do not have clutter atop their fridges, hallelujah amen and would it kill you to wash your face once in a while?!”

My husband had no such compunction, and had cheerfully organized the garage by putting the supply of diapers (paper), paper towels (paper), Kleenex (more paper) and toilet paper (sigh) on top of the freezer.

I began pulling it down. Every single item was not just ‘warm’, but hot. The paper towels were hot in a way that made me go, “Whoa!” – the heat was actually radiating up through their cardboard cores such that they felt hot both above and below.

The freezer seems to be working fine. It is properly cold within, and by design it vents hot air out the back…but I don’t remember ever feeling this kind of heat from the top and sides.

Of course…please see “resisted urge to pile crap on/around freezer” comment, above. Maybe it’s just trapped / reflected normal heat.

I don’t know. And now I have a fear (probably irrational) that if we put paper-stuff, on top of the freezer, it may combust.

I will not be able to sleep at night if there is “stuff” on top of that freezer. I will be petrified that a fire is about to erupt and I will have to do something heroic, which is a ludicrous idea. I mean! I am wearing paisley pajamas right now, people.

Heroes do not wear paisley pajamas.

Naturally, I need ammo for the no-paper-crap-on-top-of-the-freezer argument (because otherwise, my rational spouse will have all that stuff back up there tout de suite), so I started trying to look it up.

I find nothing.

The manual says nothing about piling tons of stuff on top of the freezer. I find nothing online saying, “Dear God, don’t do that! Don’t you know that the Great Chicago Fire was actually caused by people storing diapers on top of their upright freezer?!?!”

I can’t even say, “But it felt hotter than usual!” because, uh, well. I haven’t exactly made a habit out of standing out there with a thermometer checking the exterior temperature of the freezer. Interior, yes. Exterior, not so much.

But it felt hot. Too hot for paper to be stored against.

Yes. I am in fact aware that paper burns at 451 degrees, and that a “rather warm” freezer is not likely to actually reach this kind of heat. When did I ever claim to be rational, huh?

I’m just sayin’, I don’t think paper ought to be stored on something that makes me go, “Whoa, this thing feels kinda HOT!”

And if anybody has a link that will help me convince my more scientifically-inclined spouse of same, it would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

If I were an AD&D character…

I don’t actually play AD&D for real, but my husband is, like, a level 42 Dungeon Master or something (HA! Dungeon masters don’t have levels – DORK!). So naturally, I just had to know. He says this is pretty close to true for me, except that he thinks my strength should be higher.

Your stats are:

STR: 7
INT: 15
WIS: 16
DEX: 14
CON: 11
CHR: 16

AD&D to Real Life Calculator

I think there should be a ‘stubborn’ stat, which would modify the other stats. For example, I have a strength of 7, but a stubborn of 28. And then you could, say, divide the stubborn by the strength and that’s the ‘effective’ strength. So I’d have a strength of 11 because I’m too darned stubborn to admit that I can’t possibly lift a hundred pound sack of something and lug it from the van into the house, up the stairs and up onto a closet shelf.

And if anybody is telling me so, I get a double bonus. Because nothing makes my stubborn act up like being told, “Honey, be sensible, you’re going to hurt yourself.”

Under those circumstances I think I should also get the bonus to my constitution, because while I do, in fact, hurt myself – I am too stubborn (and prideful) to admit it if someone has told me I shouldn’t do whatever fool thing I’m about to do because I’m going to hurt myself.

“What? No, my back doesn’t hurt! I’m fit as a fiddle! I’m fine! I don’t know why you get these wild-eyed notions about me…” {stomps off to go moan quietly in a closet somewhere…ooooooh, my BACK!} And of course, I then have to suck it up and walk it off and carry on as if my back didn’t hurt because I just said it didn’t hurt and after all – if you don’t end up stretched out in a helpless ball of messed-up-backness at the chiropractors office, doesn’t that mean you have a higher constitution?

(Guess what answer I had to this question: Have you ever convinced someone of something even though they know it to be wrong, logically?)

Thanks to BriarRose for the link!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Meanwhile, back in my knitterly life…

I have been making hats. I have been making many, many hats. Lotsa hats. Wee little hats. Plain hats. Stripy hats. Ready-for-the-slopes hats. See?

Lotsa hats

I am becoming {glances around furtively, drops voice to conspiratorial whisper} somewhat tired of hats. But! Undaunted! I shall have thirty-one hats by the end of the month to send to the preemies in Texas. I shall persist because I have been informed that the facility we’re sending these to recently ran out of stock.


But as I am actually a couple days ahead (twenty-two hats thus far) and no, seriously! getting completely over making hats (completely over), I’m taking a small break and making a patchwork preemie blanket. It is just as basic as it sounds, and uses up random balls (or takes a good whack out of stash yarn – this is going to be mostly white with sprinklings of yellow and blue). And it is a refreshing change from the hats. Hopefully, about the time I’m sick to death of making squares, I’ll be ready to get back to hats.

If you hate seaming with a mad passion, then you’d hate this kind of work. I don’t mind it (much), so I just make bunches of squares with whatever yarn comes to hand. It’s something I’ll do when I don’t know what I want to do next, just grab a small ball of remnant and whack out a square. I usually make them 4” exactly because it takes very little yarn and makes my life easy when it comes time to put the thing together, but more creative and/or intelligent knitters will even make randomly sized squares and then (somehow) get them all together in a blanket.

They tend to turn out ridiculously cute, actually – although I have occasionally put colors together which cause my husband-the-artist to clutch his head and reel out of the room shrieking, “My eyes! MY EYEEEEEEEESSSSSSS!!”

This is because I do not see the subtle things. Like that I’ve put a blue with a purple that was not itself based on blue, but was rather based on red. OH THE AGONY.

(I do not understand the foregoing statement. Which is part of my problem, apparently. I just took a bunch of squares out of the basket and seamed them together. They seemed fine to me. Until he went into theatrics about it. Sheesh.)

In other news, in spite of engaging a pest control company to rid me of them…I still have a major wool pest in the house. One pest in particular is truly becoming an issue with me, especially because it camouflages so well.

The innocence! The purity of spirit! The ‘what, me? nuthin’, just hanging out here…with you, Oh Beloved Mumsie-Wumsie of mine…’ expression…

Innocence, personified

Uh-huh. YARN MONSTER!!!!!!!!!!


The instant he thought I wasn’t watching, BANG! He’s digging through the superwash trying to find the alpaca.

Worse than a thousand moths, that kid...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This amuses me far more than it should

Hee. See, this is pretty much how I feel. It isn't so much that I'm so wonderful at keeping house...I'm just really, really good at zen-ing my way ABOVE the housework...


Found her

Here’s the source of the poster I saw, it was the little girl whose caption reads “She thinks she’s ugly”:

Much as I hate to publicly declare just how sappy I really am – it makes me cry. The idea that any of these children could possibly think they are anything less than just right makes me sick.

And I know they do. I thought I was an ugly child, and carry that with me to this day (no matter WHAT my mother says about my cuteness and/or beauty and/or adorability). I was scrawny, freckly, had an overbite you could drive a hay wagon through, STUPID hair and could never stay clean for eight minutes at a stretch.

And I’m keenly aware of each and every one of my imperfections today. My wrinkles, my skin damage, my moles and zits and dandruff. The ‘mommy apron’ no amount of diet or exercise can budge even a quarter inch. Not even threatening it with a tummy tuck can make it shrink, which is saying something because I am a terrible coward and the very idea of going in for “elective” surgery, surgery I’d have to pay for out of my own pocket no less, makes every other part of me shrivel in horror.

I don’t worry about it much because I figure – eh, it’s not like it matters, I ain’t no supermodel nor am I trying to attract a mate – but even given a lack of ‘worry’, do I find myself utterly wanting in the beauty department? Even turn away from the sight of my nekkid self in the mirror, dash past it like it was a firing squad? Did I, in fact, remove a mirror from a shower caddy because catching glimpses of myself in the shower made me queasy?

Oh yes. Do, and did, and probably would again.

But you know what?

This is me, shutting up. I’m not going to sit around the common rooms of the house bemoaning my post-four-rapid-fire-pregnancies belly floppage, or scowl at my wrinkles and wonder aloud if perhaps it might be time to make an appointment with a laser while my daughters stand at my elbow…watching, listening, observing, imprinting.

Or my son, for that matter. Does he need to be taught that women should be running a constant marathon, chasing after youth and beauty and ‘perfection’ without cease? That it’s normal to be a basket case about it? That there’s something wrong with a woman who says, “Eh, whatever. I’m a healthy weight and none of my warts are cancerous – good enough for me!” and leaves the mascara and hair gel and takes back those hours of her life for other things?

Not from me he doesn’t.

Not from me.

p.s.: SHARE! Share away! I'm so sick of beautiful women thinking they aren't because they don't look like something out of a soap opera...let's talk, let's be real, let's share and discuss and maybe, just maybe, we can take away one ugly untruth from our lives.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Baby, you’re so beautiful

A long while ago, I was walking up to the prescription counter at the local pharmacy when I was smacked between the eyeballs by a poster. A positively adorable child with a caption that read, She thinks she’s ugly.

Have you ever wanted to wrap your arms around a stupid poster and argue with it?

How can you ever think you are anything but 150% beautiful, baby?!

Oh. Of course. Because you don’t look like someone from the cover of Cosmopolitan (check out Jezebel’s coverage of a magazine cover) (they use Certain Words in places, mom – you have been warned!) (that said, if you can stand Those Words, check out the ‘numeric’ depiction of the changes – hysterical! And yet, tragically, they ring so true to life…).

Naturally, you think you’re so ugly that mirrors may crack from the hideous impact of your image.

There is apparently a raging debate out there about Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. People can’t decide whether they love it or hate it. Neither can I. On the one hand, I appreciate any assistance that can be given. On the other, well. “Maker of cosmetic products tells girls and women they are not ugly – and here’s a coupon for fresh-scent refinishing crème!”

But for this commercial alone I’d say they were worth a look:

Take a good look. THIS is what we buy into. THIS is what sells magazines, and cosmetics, and fat-busting pills, and deodorant. THIS is what we’re trying to duplicate when we smear goop on our faces day and night, pay for microderm abrasion treatments, flit from product to product searching, searching, searching for that little vial which will transform us, finally, from hideous crawling worm to glorious butterfly – like the lady in the picture.

And this is what our daughters see. This is what our precious babies look at, too, what they compare themselves to, what they want their little nine year old bodies to be.

Show your daughters. Make sure they know: Nobody looks that good, baby. Not even her.

And you, dear child?

You’re so beautiful you make stars look dim.

Without a single click of the mouse…

I won’t grow up, I won’t grow up…

It is shocking that, after so many years as an (alleged) adult, I still have no idea what I really want to be when I grow up.


I know that other people aren’t like this, because I actually know, in person, people who aren’t. My brother, for example. Mr. “Went To College, Straight THROUGH College, Got Degree, Got Job, Buckled Down, And There I Am, No Worries, No Regrets.”

So I can’t even blame genetics, right? I’d really like to, because then it wouldn’t be my fault that I’m a scatterbrained twit who can’t seem to stick to one thing longer than eighteen seconds. It is a miracle that I ever got through college. The only thing that got me actually through college and to a degree was that the university I finally attended was so stinkin’ expensive that I didn’t dare take even one (1) class I didn’t have to take.

My earlier college career at CSU Hayward went like this: “This quarter, I’m an Engli- no, hang on, Mass Communications major! Oooh! Animals! I’m definitely a BioSci major! Wait! Math! No, hang on, let’s do a BioSci Major with a Math min- hey, you know what’s cool? Archeology! And also Music! BioSci, and Music, with a little extra math. And also Italian.”

I’m like…an academic crow. I hop from bright shiny pebble to bottle cap to funky piece of string.

It’s probably one of the most serious cases of ADD on record, but I prefer to call it ‘having a highly evolved sense of curiosity’.

I’m having a day where I’m wondering if I need medication. You know. Focusallotta or Quitcherwafflus or Whasamattayoustupidagra.

Actually, I’m having a year of it.

Between January and April, I quit my job in my head at least four dozen times, then changed my mind and said, “No! I’m going to FIX this, and someday they shall place the Crown of Supremeness upon my noble brow around this place!” And about five minutes later I’d hang up the phone and say, “Quitting. So totally quitting. This sucks, and I’m out of here…”

We want to move. But I fear the cost of the new house – fear it in a way that some people fear zombies or heights or sitting next to that lady who wears too much perfume on the bus. I’m not sure that I’m being entirely rational, really. Somehow, thousands and thousands of other people manage to hold down even larger mortgage payments with even less income than we have; but then I think how tight our margins are As Things Stand, and then I say, “OK, so now double the property taxes and add about $500-1,000 to the mortgage payment itself plus also of course the homeowners insurance will also go up…

And then I go off and breathe into a paper bag for a while until I become distracted, get crayons, and make a puppet out of the paper bag. “Mr. Breathy says, ‘Eh-oh! Eh-oh!’”


Wait. Where was I…oh yeah.

I’d like to go back to work. Not really. But I would. Or not. What time is it? Oh. Time to change my mind again, gotcha.


It doesn’t help that other people want to throw gasoline on my fires. Just as I’m settling back into the domestic diva routine and have got my zen together about work-from-home opportunities I might be brave and/or energetic enough to take on, I get a phone call from a recruiter saying, “So hey. Haven’t talked to ya in a while! How are you? How’re the kids? Greeeeeeeeat…so! I have a client, well, actually, I have three clients, and we were wondering…”


Honestly. Like I don’t change my mind enough, like I don’t doubt my choices and worry about home / family / income / blah blah blah enough all by myself. My brain is too schizophrenic to handle the constant barrage of oh-so-appealing things I said I didn’t want to do anymore.

Of course, anything which involves running away from home, possibly to Spain where I will assume a new identity and pretend I speak neither Spanish nor English but rather some other language like Russian, which I do not actually speak but I’m pretty sure-ski I could fake-ski getting out a bit sounds really appealing right now because! YES! I have reached the point at which I stop being relieved and delighted that it is summer break and am now anxiously counting the days until school @*^&@ing starts again, so that I can ditch these horrible monsters for six glorious hours each day nobly deposit my offspring in the Hallowed Halls of Learning, so that they may grow up to be Good Citizens of this great country of ours.

See! Here we go again! I mean, I knew I would, but still! A few weeks ago, I’m jumping around all excited and happy because YAY! Finally! No more school! No more pickups and drop offs and minimum-half-Patriot days!

And now? I’m so ready to take them back to school. SO ready. I’m so tired of breaking up fights, and refereeing their games, and finding Things For The Poor Deprived Bored Children To Do.

They are intelligent, creative children. Why they can’t seem to entertain themselves for any length of time is beyond me.

Unless, of course, they have some kind of genetic inability to stay focused on anything for more than eighteen seconds at a stretch…

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Uuuuuuuuuuuungh ANGRY!!

The burning ball of fire is in the sky – again! Uuuuuuuuuungh does not know why it return, but Uuuuuuuuuungh want it go bye-bye. Uuuuuuuuuungh say, “Uuuuuuuuuungh!!!” at stupid noise-beeping-thing-with-flashy-lights this morning, but it do no good! {beep beep beep}, again, again, again!!! Uuuuuuuuuungh need big club, that what…

Uuuuuuuuuungh, in case you were wondering, is my new name. I respond to all stimuli with this sound now, apparently. When I don’t use @*^&@, or even ^&@^*!!!, which while in some ways more satisfying also take up more energy – so I tend to stick with Uuuuuuuuuungh.

Yes. The vacation recovery is going splendidly, why do you ask?

Well. Sort of splendidly. This is the weirdest thing ever. One of my vices is acrylic nails. I’ve been one of those women who starts whining vigorously that she simply must get to the nail salon for a fill every two weeks for going on fifteen years now. (Gads. Really? {counts on fingers} Yup. About that. Wow.)

I was a bit overdue for a fill thanks to the sojourn in hell vacation, but not totally outside the window of reasonability. I noticed one (1) crack in one (1) nail last night. I swore a little bit and resolved that at earliest opportunity (uh, about Friday-ish) I’d make a point of zipping in for the redeeming fill.

Then this morning while making breakfast, I swear I am not lying to you, six of my ten fake nails broke and/or popped off.

“Stunned” is too mild a word. I mean, the first one I was like, “Oh, bummer. That cracked one popped off!”

Then the second one went and I said, “Dude, that’s not right. Stupid things…I must have hit those two fingers on something…”

By the time the sixth one cracked in half widthwise for I swear absolutely no reason, I gave up, got the medieval implements of fingernail torture and removed the last four without further comment. (Note that I do not say ‘without further whining’ – there was whining and lots of it.)

Nine years, and I have never had something like this happen before. Sure, I’ve had one or even two break and/or pop off between fills, but this? This was Twilight Zone material. I’ve been casting back in my mind for hours now, asking myself what I may have gotten onto my hands that is different from stuff I get on my hands all the time. The only thing that was different last week was that I did wash my hands about eleventy-gazillion times, a full one gazillion times more than the average week, because of the theme parks.

I swear I’m not a true germophobe, but honestly when you see some kid wiping his nose with his hand and then putting it all over everything he comes near…ewwwwwwww! Where’s the soap? Pass the Purell! GET ME A CAN OF LYSOL, STAT!!!

So as I was applying a layer or three of nail lacquer over my raw nail beds, I found myself wondering why in the world we women DO these things to ourselves. I mean, I know why I do the acrylic nails: I use them as picks on my harp. But why do we dye our hair (and have to keep on doing it, every six to eight weeks, like good little drones)? Why do we slather our skin with oils and unguents that lie shamelessly claim they will keep us looking young or ‘refinish’ our skin or what-have-you? Why do we smear our faces with artificial color as if $DEITY hadn’t made us fine enough?!

Why do 6” heels even exist? C’mon. Why?!

I really want to know why I own any makeup at all. Lay it on me. Why? First of all, I about never actually wear it. I buy it, wear it for a few days, and then shove it in a drawer. I ought to just send money to the companies but take no product. It would have the same net effect: I still am wearing no makeup, only this time I don’t have a drawer full of crap I’m not wearing nor ever going to wear because even on special occasions, no matter how romantic, I don’t remember the freakin’ stuff.

Also, when I wear it for more than a few hours at a stretch d’you know what happens?

Chemosis. You know, where your eyeballs suddenly start glowing red, itch and burn and water and otherwise look horrid AND THEN JUST TO MAKE IT THAT MUCH BETTER the membrane ‘skin’ covering your eyeball puffs up and swells away from the eyeball itself, making you look like a grotesque travesty of a human being?

Yeah, that. If eyeshadow hits my eyeball, BANG! Vampire time. Most makeup bases, too. And we won’t even discuss mascara.

So why do I own the stuff? Why did I just buy more eyeshadow?



Oh well. I’ll give me the nails, but it really is probably time to put the kibosh on the snakeoil.

And I will do so, just as soon as I grow up.

…oh dear…

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What fun!! Let’s never do it again!!

We don’t usually take vacations-as-such around here. We take a weekend here, a long weekend there. We take the whole horde places fairly rarely, and usually only for one or possibly two nights. Thanksgiving at Grandma’s in LA, for example, or the annual 4th of July BBQ at the uncle’s house (also in LA) (because my husbands ginormous family mostly lives down there) (seriously – the in-law portion of the family? ginormous. I still have trouble with which cousin belongs to what branch of the family tree and also one of my sister in laws has four boys and I have never once NOT EVEN ONCE gotten the names of the older two correct on the first try, which is mightily embarrassing but there it is).


This year, we took an actual Vacation As Such. Two seven hour trips on I-5, nine days, eight nights, and OH MY GAWD WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!

We have a lot of family and friends down there in sunny Los Angeles, but their homes are on the >>>small<<< side. They are delightfully hospitable and when we go down for one or two nights we often spend them fidgeting on the futon and hissing “stop kicking me!” and “get off me!” at our children, but for, you know, this longer eight night visit involving multiple activities several hours apart, I thought a hotel would probably be best.

Ha! HAhahahahahaha. Best. Yes. Well. We got a one bedroom suite, which was actually about the same size as my first apartment. I spent a lot of time this last week appreciating what I have here in the Den, because six people sharing 600 square feet of hotel room with one bathroom and an ‘efficiency’ kitchenette was an…interesting social experiment.

Most uttered phrase of the week: “Will you PLEASE just SIT DOWN SOMEWHERE?!”

Housekeeping was shocking indifferent. Seriously. They had a daily checklist of five (5) items. Make beds. Change towels. Restock bathroom. Restock kitchen supplies (coffee and dishwasher soap packet). And the rather essential ‘take out the trash’ part.

They had eight tries to do all five things, and not once NOT EVEN ONE TIME did they do all five. My personal favorite was our very last night, when we staggered home at midnight to discover that they had taken all the towels out of the room and left us with about three washcloths.

Holy Moses.

However, it was better than the futon, and if our stay had been shorter we might not have noticed the Minimalist Housekeeping and thought it was just fine. Shorter stays are like that. You don’t have as much time to become irritated with things, like the dripping bathtub faucet or the fact that in order to get a replacement box of Kleenex you have to threaten the manager with bodily harm. We had two kids on one bed, one kid on the sleeper sofa, and Captain Adventure was in his portable crib (when he wasn’t sleeping on mommy) while we took up the other double bed.

Where we proceeded to hiss at each other, “Stop kicking me!” and “Get. Off. Me!” because we have a king bed at home and have become accustomed to being able to sleep alone-together.

The kids being the ages they are, there was nothing restful about the whole experience. Don’t get me wrong – it was fun and there were a lot of wonderful moments I will surely treasure forever (as soon as my feet stop throbbing and that weird twitch over my left eye goes away), but dudes.

Seriously. Exhausting.

See, at home, we each have our own spaces, and can retreat to them when we’d really like a little break from each other. The Den is set up for the children. I can go to the bathroom without worrying that I’m going to come out and find blood all over the floors and the children missing. Well. Pretty much I can. For the most part.

We have our routines, and our conveniences. If somebody throws up on their shirt, I can take care of it efficiently. If somebody else wants to color, it isn’t a four day expedition to find markers and some paper.

And if we need clean towels I know where to grab them. Or can throw some into the washer and have clean, soft, warm, non-chlorine-scented towels in a matter of about 90 minutes, start to finish. (Express wash setting, people – it’s a good thing.)

It isn’t that normal life isn’t a lot of work and that I don’t sometimes come to the end of the day and say to myself, “Dang. That was a hard day!” It’s just that…nine consecutive days of non-stop Denizen wrangling and having to dig around for everything from park tickets to crayons while paying about four times as much for everything from coffee to soda crackers really took the starch out of me.

Also, I become irrationally anxious when faced with crowded and/or loud and/or distracting situations and tend to blame my husband for disasters that are unlikely to actually happen. (Please note the word ‘irrationally’, above.)

Going to the family party at the house with the pool: Mommy is nervous wreck because she is sure that daddy is NOT paying close enough attention and at least one child will drown.

Going to Disneyland with not only our four but also two ‘extra’ children: Mommy is nervous wreck because she is sure daddy is NOT paying close enough attention and at least one child will become forever lost.

Going to friend’s house for the day with the four children plus said friend’s two children: Mommy is nervous wreck because she is sure daddy is NOT paying close enough attention and at least one child will run into the street and be killed and/or at least one child will manage to break something priceless and/or at least one child will go into the backyard and get mauled by the (completely friendly and not prone to mauling) dogs.

I do not know why I have this deep-seated fear that trusting my spouse to pay enough attention to his children to prevent disaster from striking is sure to bring catastrophe down upon us. He is overall a very attentive father and shares most of my concerns about drowning, burning, falling, being run over by vehicles of various sorts and so forth.

But I become anxious when we are in crowded and/or chaotic situations and he does not, which somehow translates in my mind as ‘not paying attention’ because it is SO OBVIOUS that we should indeed be very, very anxious. Very anxious. Not being anxious must mean you are not aware of the MORTAL PERIL we are all in at this moment.

Yes. It is very difficult, being me.


It was about a restful as preparing for final exams in five classes while working full time and having two children in diapers. And it was all go-go-go right up until the very last moment! After checking out of the Hotel of Minimalist Housekeeping (where, I have just realized, we left a full package of Oreos AND another of Pepperidge Farms cookies, WAH!), we took the children into Disney’s California Adventure. We did just about every ride in the park and snagged late afternoon reservations at Ariel’s Grotto so we could pay way too much for decent but not spectacular food dine under the sea with the Disney princesses before doing the final ‘OK, now you can pick a toy’ and heading for home.

They all yelled and sang and carried on for about the first six Advils two hours of the drive home. With frequent reprises.

It is truly astonishing how much noise four young children can make in an enclosed space…say, a minivan…and for how long they can keep it up, and also how often they can drum up yet another round of it.

We were so tired we practically wept when we pulled into our own driveway late last night (or, arguably, very early this morning), threw the children in the general direction of their beds and fell into our own like vampires hitting their coffins at dawn. I have vague memories of running around turning the water heater and air conditioner back on, and I may have kissed my sheets because they did not smell like chlorine, and that I may possibly have declared my undying love for my own bedroom and that I had forgotten how clean the Den is, and well-stocked with clean towels. And how large. And how altogether cozy and comfortable and lovely it is.

The vacation was great fun.

Let’s not ever do it again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Life, interrupted

Vacation. Children. Hotel room coffee.

Can’t deal.

Write later.

Send caffeine.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Oh my {censored}!

Online Dating

No. WAY!!!! And here I’ve always striven to maintain a ‘G’ kind of rating because, ya know, my mom visits here sometimes. Gee, I wonder quietly to myself, what kind of WILD AND ALSO CRAZY things have I been writing lately, which would make this site potentially dangerous to the delicate psyche and morality of the 17-and-under set…

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

poop (4x) knife (3x) shoot (2x) hurt (1x)

Ah. I see. Yes. Poop is, indeed, extremely damaging to the psyche.

Trust me to know all about that.

Two hats for Thursday

In my continuing efforts to shirk housework add to the national preemie hat supply, I made two hats today.

The first one was an old standard: the petal hat. I’ve had this pattern in my binder of printed-off-the-Internet-patterns for about…oh geez…eight years or so? It’s a simple deal, scaled down slightly for the preemies, worked back and forth and then seamed (feh – I am really over the seaming-hats thing). The ‘scalloped’ edge is a natural by-product of the lace pattern, and the finished thing has always made me think of a tulip:

Petal Hat

So I finished that one, did the dishes (again), rotated the laundry (again), set the Scooba washing the kitchen floor (again) and found myself contemplating what if (again) (it was apparently déjà vu day in the Den today).

What would this hat look like (I asked myself, firmly ignoring the small voice inside my head that said if I didn’t get clean sheets back on all the beds before bedtime I would be very much upset with myself later) if I made it more…flower-ish? And did it in the round instead of back-n-forth? On smaller needles?

Say, switched to green at the crown and maybe did an i-cord at the top like a stem?

So, to get out of cleaning the bathrooms satisfy my artistic curiosity, I tried it out. It looks like this:

Really Flowery

Or on a ‘baby’ head, like this:

Lulu the Model

I intentionally made the stem on the short side to make it harder for Baby to accidentally get hold of it and pull off the hat, or choke on it.

It amuses me far more than it has any right to do. But then, I’m still lusting to make the tulip toes booties from Knitty’s Summer 2006 issue. So perhaps it is possible I have some kind of ‘flower’ thing going.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Doldrums, caffeine, lost teeth and best-laid plans

People, I can darn near set my watch by the 2:00 doldrums. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I could be running away from a rabid alligator, scrambling for my life through the Everglades, and yet, come 2:00…zzzzzzzzz…so…tired…want…nap…

It does not help that last night, I went to bed at a darned decent hour, and then woke up two hours later with hot flashes and feeling like I was going to hurl. Which I did not. Which somehow pissed me off.

I don’t claim this is a particularly rational response to not throwing up in the middle of the night, but there it was. Look here, body! If you’re going to get me out of bed in the middle of the night for puking, AT LEAST PUKE! Don’t do this ‘no, just kidding, we’re just nauseous’ thing to me!!

Fortunately, I have learned to get everything I really want done done before 2:00. Anything else I might get done between 2:00 and bedtime is just icing.

So to perk myself up a little this afternoon (it doesn’t work, but I live in a state of eternal hopefulness) I made myself a quick triple lowfat mocha…what? Yes. I know that it is approximately a million degrees outside. BELIEVE ME, I know – all the Denizens are trapped inside with their dear mama today due to the searing heat outside. But, well…I believe this will explain better than a thousand words:

See, some people would consider this to be ‘significantly addicted’. Personally, I think it means, ‘still have 15% worth of wriggle room’.

I could quit any time I want. I just don’t wanna. Nyah.


So I’m making my mocha and am approaching the all-important ‘milk frothing’ stage when Boo Bug suddenly calls from upstairs, “Mommy, where are you?”

“Down here.” Oy. Please tell me you’re not about to tattle on somebody…


“Down. Here.” Mommy hasn’t had her afternoon coffee yet, darling, do not irritate mommy or she may sell you to the gypsies. Who do NOT have cable!!

“Whatcha doin’?”

“Makin’ coffee.” Writing an aria. Chatting with the pope. Solving world hunger. Geez!

“Oh. Can you…stop?”

Oh great. Now, this probably means that Captain Adventure is doing something horrid, like stuffing all the toilet paper into the bathtub or drinking toilet water or something like that.

“Why?” I ask, cautiously.

“Because I think it might be time to pull my tooth out now,” she replied calmly, and walked in pointing at her loose tooth, which is now dangling by the merest thread.

This, people, is her first loose tooth. For her to be so calm is truly miraculous – this is the same child who once screamed and carried on so violently about a tiny splinter in a park that she literally drove another mother and her offspring away, the scene being too laden with sorrow for her to bear (rookie!).

“Wow,” I said. “Let me see…”

One slight anxious whimper and ping! The tiny little tooth was in my hand. Boo Bug ran off to examine her new empty space and I rinsed the tooth carefully, marveling at how tiny and perfect it was. Her babyhood, in my palm…my little Boo, heading off to kindergarten in a little over a month, my sweet little baby losing her teeth…hmm…I don’t suppose she could lose the darkened one I almost knocked out of her head next…? Because I hate it when people notice that darker tooth and say, “Oh, honey, did you hit your mouth or something?” and she turns up her beautiful little cherub face and cheerfully says, in her sweet little voice, “No, mommy hit me in the face with her knee!!”

…and then…

They look at me.

Please, dear $DEITY, let that @*^&@ing dark brown front tooth be the next to go, thank you hallelujah amen.

So we had all due excitement and tried to call daddy at work and got his voice mail (drat) and agreed that the tooth fairy would be most pleased by the cleanliness of the tooth and the obvious good care taken of it whilst in her mouth and then as the excitement died down I realized I’d neglected my coffee.

I mixed it up anyway. Because a person with an 85% caffeine addiction does not let espresso go to waste, even if it has to go into microwaved milk.

When I returned to my desk, the architect had sent us an email regarding our permanently-stalled plans saying, “I can finish the floor and the floor beams, but I can’t do the calculations on the roof. You need a structural engineer for that part.”

Here, let me translate that: “This is going to cost you yet more money before you ever even pick up a hammer.”

This is why I was so adamant about not allowing the husband to take a sledgehammer to any part of the Den. This old hen has pecked around in this particular poop before. I know how these things go with us: We jump in with both feet before we know what, exactly, we’re jumping into, and then we climb out of the poop saying, “Oh. Uh. Heh-heh. That, uh, that was poop, huh?” “Yes, dear, I do believe it was.”

We’ve already got a little bit of poop in the form of the storage shed, a $160 monthly expense incurred months ago when we were planning to sell the Den. You know, before we realized that selling right now would be next to impossible and that we’d have to wait about sixteen years before getting an offer due to market saturation? And high foreclosure counts? Meaning that you could get this same house for pennies on the dollar at the county courthouse?

You see the problem.


I just want to bring all our stuff home from the storage shed, put it back where it damned well belongs, and relax about it for a while. I have a gut feeling that this project is on permanent hold at this point, and really I’d rather not make myself any crazier than need be about it.

In somewhat related news, anybody who ever utters these words: “Hey! Don’t put that box in there! You might scratch the bed!” ought to have the keys to their Ram 350000000 taken from his hand, be whumped upside the head with them, forced into a Gremlin and told to keep his pasty-white behind O-U-T of a seriously red-blooded, hard-working, manly-man vehicle like a pickup truck. Seriously. It defiles the good name of the pickup truck, having little girly-men prancing around worrying that there might be a {gasp!} scratch in the bed.

{deadpan} Oh. The unmitigated horror. A pickup truck with a scratch in the bed. Somebody call 911. {/deadpan}

Sorry. I digress. I mean! (Sorry, here we go again…) Sometimes a person might be somewhat irrational about shiny things that become, well, unshiny, even if by design they are going to be un-shined. I’ve done it myself, most notably when I got all upset over a throwing knife getting scratched during target practice.

Yes, really.

It was not one of my more sensible moments.

“Hey, I just threw this knife with as much force as I could muster into that block of wood, and it got scratched!” Duh. Ya THINK?! But still, it was shiny and new and when I yanked it out and there was a big old scratch down it, I went, “Awwwww….it’s SCRATCHED!” like it was some kind of shocking outcome. It’s just a thing with us. But we get over it, ya know? We do. I mean, I did, anyway. I rather quickly realized that I was being stupid, and the boys all had a good (but cautious – I’m a good shot with a throwing knife, actually) laugh at me and we all moved on.

But a guy who buys a big old honkin’ pickup truck, one of those ultra-king-cab-you-could-put-an-entire-apartment-back-there monsters, is Making A Certain Statement, right? A “Lookit me, I’m a cowboy!” kinda statement, right?

What kind of cowboy, WHAT KIND OF COWBOY I DEMAND TO KNOW, would saunter out of the bar, push back the Stetson and drawl out, “Hey there, Slick, don’t be puttin’ that hoe in the bed there – it might scratch it!” Not once, but repeatedly?


It offends me on so many levels.

Like nonfat ice cream and low-carb pizza, it’s just plain wrong.

The Basic Preemie Hat Pattern

The pattern I use is, in fact, exceptionally basic. I clocked it this morning and it took me precisely 1.5 hours start to finish with brief (but incessant) interruptions for coffee, shoving husband out the door to work, making cereal for two Denizens, another cup of coffee, loading the dishwasher and cleaning up a spilled bowl of cereal. While Captain Adventure giggled madly, pointed, and yelled, “UH-OH! OH NO! UH-OH! OH NO!!” and tried to splash in the milk puddle.

Adorable children. Really they are.

You can use DPNs or, if you’re like me and extremely lazy prone to losing DPNs and only finding them by sitting on them into current technology, two circulars. A good primer on knitting with two circulars is here.

I use baby weight yarn (like Simply Soft or Red Heart Baby – as I mentioned before, if you’re knitting these for charity they like the acrylic rather than wool due to potential allergy issues) and #4 (3.5mm) needles. The gauge works out to 6 stitches and 8 rows to an inch. Not to bring down the wrath of the gauge gods upon myself, but – whatever size it ends up being will be useful. You can make a whole hat and call it a gauge swatch, it will fit one of these little people.

It takes under an ounce of yarn altogether for the preemie – I weighed one last night and it came out to 1/2 an ounce finished weight.

Cast on 48 (little preemie), 60 (large preemie), or 72 (newborn) stitches and divide it up evenly on your needles of choice. Join, and off you go:

Work 8 rounds of rib – I default to K2/P2, planning to flip the rib up as a kind of brim. (If you hate rib with the passion of a thousand burning suns you can always skip it and go straight to stockinette – it creates a ‘roll brim’ hat which is equally cute) (or do seed stitch, or reverse stockinette, or whatever else makes you happy).

After the rib, switch to stockinette and carry on until you get to a total hat length of 4.5” for preemie, 5” for large preemie, or 5.5” for newborn. This is the part where you can easily play with color, add in stripes or whatever else suits your fancy. Or, just keep on keepin’ on until you’ve got the length you want.

When you’ve gotten to the right length for your hat, begin decreasing:

Round 1: K4, K2tog, repeat around
Round 2: Knit
Round 3: K3, K2tog, repeat around
Round 4: Knit
Round 5: K2, K2tog, repeat around
Round 6: Knit
Round 7: K1, K2tog, repeat around
Round 8: Knit
Round 9: K2tog around
Round 10: K2tog around

At this point, you should be down to six or less stitches. Cut your yarn, draw it through the live stitches, and pull it tight. If this is for hospitals they’d prefer no pom-poms or other things that might conceivably choke the baby (gee, go figure) – generally, I make the draw good and tight so there is no more than a wee tiny hole, and then I draw the yarn end down through it to plug it up even further.

An AWESOME! site for preemie patterns (and lots of other good stuff, actually) is at Bev’s Country Cottage .

If you’re looking for someone to send them, check out the Knitting 4 Children group on Yahoo – they have a long list of charities, just about anything you produce can find a home. They even have a place for your scarves and ‘big kid’ hats!

When I’m not doing a shower for Knitting 4 Children, I usually send my things to Stitches from the Heart. They’re a great outfit, and send to hospitals all around the country. They gladly accept things for preemies up to toddlers, and a good home will be found for all of them.

Here’s today’s hat (and also one from last week)! Modeled by the lovely sisters Helene (right, last week’s hat) and Lulu (left, today’s) (not that anybody is REALLY keeping that tight a track of these things…). Helene and Lulu have been with me for thirty-mumble years now, so you will please forgive them any…I don’t know, love being blind and all that…lazy eyes or raggedy hair or thirty-mumble year old fashion sensibilities (they are lucky to be wearing anything at all, as the Denizen seem to believe the only thing to be done with a doll’s clothing is to strip it off them):

Helene and Lulu

Today’s was the standard 48 stitches, 8 rounds K2/P2 rib (flipped up to form brim), followed by 8 rounds each of white, pink, white, and then the crown in pink again. Tres cute for the little ballerina, non?

Last week’s is the same pattern, in yellow 8 rounds K2/P2 (brimmed), 8 rounds yellow, 4 rounds green, 8 rounds “checkerboard” with the green and yellow, 4 rounds green, and finished off in yellow. Ready for skiing! In, uh, her salsa dress…

Ahem. Well. I’m sure I can find the rest of their clothes. They’ve got to be around here somewhere…

Monday, July 02, 2007

Lost and Found

My husband lost his wallet.

At first, we weren’t too worried. Because, you know, things go AWOL all the time in the Den. Really nothing to write about there. Stepped barefoot on a toy, had boogers wiped on my shirt, cleaned juice off the floor and lost something. That’s pretty much the every day deal around here.

But as the initial search turned up nothing, we began to become slightly alarmed. Where had he seen it last? Was it in the washing machine right now? Retrace your steps, honey…

As the more intensive search (which included in and behind toy boxes, on top of shelves, the garden shed, and other unlikely spots which nevertheless have been known to turn up missing items) likewise turned up no wallet, we began to become downright uneasy. Think! EXACTLY where were you the last time you had it? Where did you go? Did you check in the car? Under the car? Around the car? Glovebox? Did you take it out of your pocket and set it on top of the spa?!

My poor husband finally took a bracing sip of beer and headed out for what is possibly the grossest thing we could think of: that Captain Adventure had found it and tossed it in the trash, and that we had then thrown said trash into the tote without noticing the wallet IN it. This is a new thing for him, picking stuff up and tossing it in the trash. I’m constantly pulling kitchen towels, cups, silverware and other oddments out of the kitchen trash can, toys and clothing and other things he was finished with out of the laundry room trash.

So out Himself went, to search for his wallet among the decaying whatnots and also the ‘used’ diapers and OH GOD I CAN’T TALK ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW.

Bravely he went forth. Dejected he returned: no wallet. Maggots, yes. Wallet, no. (EWWW!)

After dinner, I headed upstairs to look just one (1) more time. Because you know how it is: You lose something, you search like a maniac, find nothing, and then the next morning find it precisely where you thought it was in the first place.

It was not in the closet, on the floor or a shelf. It was not on my desk. It was not on the nightstand. Dejected, I sat down on the bed and rubbed at my eyes. The last places left to consider were bad, very very bad – the parking lot at Target, Starbucks, or in the parking lot at Orchard Hardware. None of these retailers admitted having the wallet in their lost and found, soooooooo…visions of our credit card being used all across America, having to replace this and that, no driver’s license (hmm, just what IS the penalty if you get busted driving without one?) not to mention that he hadn’t remembered to take his social security card out of his wallet after landing his last job…ARGH! Having to put a fraud alert up on the reporting bureaus, MEH!!

Now people, I had checked some very odd places. I had checked trash cans. I had checked kitchen drawers. I had checked under desks, and behind the washing machine. I had looked all kinds of places. Not really expecting anything but dust bunnies (or maybe Jimmy Hoffa), I got down on my hands and knees, lifted up the bedskirt and peered under the bed.

Lo. And. Behold. Kicked under the bed $DEITY only knows when…the wallet lay in impudent splendor amid the dust and lost socks.

I swear it stuck its tongue out at me.


I snatched it up and ran downstairs like I’d won the lottery, yelling, “HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE ME?!” at the top of my lungs.

Dignity and decorum at all times, that’s me.

And he, uh, he loves me a lot.

…and not just for wallet finding, allegedly…

(…although he DOES rather wish I had thought of under the bed BEFORE he went digging through the trash…)

A Hat A Day

The Knitting 4 Children group is doing a ‘shower’ this month for a NICU in Texas – this is preemie knitting, for the wee-little-tiny-ones. The average weight is between 3 and 5 pounds, which makes for a baby about the size of a large doll.

Make a fist.

That’s how big their little heads usually are.

Yeah. Whoa. One of the big challenges these little guys face is keeping tiny bodies warm in a one-size-fits-most-unless-you-are-the-size-of-a-kid’s-doll world – enter the hand knitters of America, who recoil in horror at the thought of anyone ESPECIALLY BABIES being {gasp!} cold (oh, the horror!), fire up their needles and get busy!!

I’ve decided that for the month of July, I’m going to start my knitting day with a hat, every day. Preemie hats are quick and easy to make, and ironically the hospital requirement of soft baby acrylic makes them relatively cheap to boot – ordinarily I like to go for the superwash wool for babies, but for these little guys the hospitals request hypoallergenic, can-be-thrown-in-the-wash-with-jeans acrylic. Their wish is my command, so Baby Soft it is!

Here are the first two, one for yesterday and one for today:

Two Hats!

By the end of July, I should have 31 hats ready to send off for the ‘shower’. These are knit in the round on two circulars, which makes them ultra-fast – no seaming, and minimal end-running-in. The pattern is also ultra simple, and lends well to playing with color (stripes, boxes, smiley faces, whatever) if you feel like it while turning out a perfectly serviceable hat if you don’t.

Which sometimes, I don’t. (Yellow hat.) But often, I do. (Blue checkers.)

While I’m on the subject of hats, here’s a picture of the three hats I finished and mailed off before I took pictures. The owner of said hats happened to come over to the house and brought them back so I could take pictures. See?

Three Amigos

The top two are Noro Kureyon. I have real mixed feelings about the Noro. On the one hand, the colors are absolutely to die for. Gorgeous! Sexy! Faboo!! But it isn’t the softest, most gentle wool around, I think it was trying to felt right on my needles ($DEITY help us if those hats somehow end up in the washing machine!) and I swear it actually rubbed my knitting callus a little raw – like old-style acrylic used to do. (Actually, that’s where my knitting callus originated – while making a big old afghan out of Ye Olde Red Hearte about twenty years ago.)

I wouldn’t make something that goes right against the skin in Noro Kureyon, is what I’m trying to get at – the colors are enough to make me forgive it being rough around the edges, but it would be really awful if you, say, tried to make a bra out of it. Just sayin’.

The bottom one is Trendsetter Tonalita, a 52% wool, 48% acrylic blend – ultra soft and very, very nice! The colors are rather manly, think you not? And this is the kind of yarn I think is ideal for hats – soft but reasonably sturdy.

In other knitting news, look! It’s a crap-tastic picture of Siv!

Siv, sorta

Yeah, I know, I know. My camera bites. I tried really hard to get a decent shot of the cable, because it is ultra-cool. But no. My cheap camera is struggling enough just to grok that this is purple, not black or blue or orange. It doesn’t help that cables always vanish a bit in dark yarns – it won’t ever be a “!POP!” kind of cable, and then you take a cheesy camera and try to take a picture of already shy cables and well.

You get a big blob of something that looks like a black stain on your white carpet.

My carpet isn’t white, it’s beige. Just for the record. I mean, I think it was white once, but that was when the Den was owned by a pair of DINKs who took their shoes off before trouncing through the joint and who also by the way kept the bathrooms extremely clean. They also had the carpet re-stretched every year, which I priced out shortly after moving in and, when I got up off the floor and caught my breath, decided really we could go ahead and not do and instead maybe get it shampooed annually.

ANYWAY. Now that I’ve gotten the @*^&@-up bugs out of my system, it’s starting to move along pretty quickly. I’m about halfway to the armhole decreases already. Once you get yourself together (which is apparently harder for some of us than others, ahem), it’s a simple pattern that is easy to memorize and keep on doing. The Silky Wool is a joy to knit with, too. It feels like chenille, but without the ‘worm’ factor.

And that is the knitting news in brief. Stay tuned for the drunken rant about how I thought I finally had Siv straightened out but was OH SO VERY WRONG…

Do we rock? YES WE DO!!!

Mrs. H over at I Like Yarn tagged me with a Rockin’ Girl Blogger award!

Rockin’ Girl Blogger

Eeeeeee! It’s PINK!! And thank you so much for thinking of me, Mrs. H. It feels down-to-the-toes wonderful to know you’re enjoying my tales of chaos!

It’s funny, when I started flipping through my (rather too long, actually) blog list, I realized: MOST of the ones I read regularly are rockin’ girls. And also, most of them have already been tagged. @*^&@. See, this is what happens when you come late to the party…

But I did find a few who haven’t already been tagged (I hope!!):

Clare from Three Beautiful Things. This is an awesome ‘feel good’ blog, short and sweet – every day, she posts up three things that gave her that warm-fuzzy that day. I love this blog to distraction, because the world is so full of the negative, the scary, the pissed-off-and-ranty – and Three Beautiful Things is a place of refreshingly simple beauty.

Coach Susan from Varsity Butt Dent Squad. Funny, tart-n-sweet, and very, very real.

Amy Lane of Yarning to Write. She’s got three books out with a fourth on the way and oh yeah, by the way, somehow manages to keep up with a full time job teaching, knitting and motherhood.

I've been flipping through a lot of the blogs sporting this little button, and dang! This is some AWESOME company to be in!! We are a smart, sassy, witty crowd out here in Internetville, people - it is a marvelous thing, to have all our voices out here being heard.

I came to blogging rather reluctantly, to be honest; I resisted, I argued, I said “no, really, the boards are fine...”

Ultimately, it was the freedom to put out my own voice in all its weird, “...oh yeah and also...” disconnected craziness that put me here. There is no ‘OT’ on my blog. In fact, it could be argued that the whole thing is nothing but a long ‘OT’ ramble, about nothing and everything, in no particular order. It is here to amuse my family (hi, mom!!), my friends, and you. To make you smile, to maybe give you something to think about, maybe save you a little money here or there, or at least let you know you aren’t alone with the crazy. There’s at least one other person who loses her keys every.single.day at least once, another person who goes out to get the newspaper, calls said newspaper in a rare fury because it isn’t there AGAIN for the THIRD DAY IN A ROW, only to be reminded by the customer service rep that she, uh, kinda cancelled the paper two weeks ago...

Heh heh. Yeah. I knew that. I was, uh, testing you guys, that’s what. OK. So. Good job! And I’ll…just…ring off now, shall I…?

Thanks for reading, and for writing your own stories. I look forward to them, every time I log on.