Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Toilet seat issues

OMG. OK, first, you guys, if you haven’t seen it, go read Stephanie’s account of their new toilet seat.

Go. Go on. I’ll wait…I’ve got four more rows on that Irish Diamond Shawl, I can be kept busy for hours here…

Wow, back so soon? OK, first of all, I about laughed myself out of my chair.

And then I realized that I too have a toilet seat story. It is so profoundly lame and embarrassing that I naturally feel the need to share it right immediately now, with the entire Internet.

Our downstairs bathroom toilet seat developed some marks some years ago. Like, about five years ago. These marks were nasty looking (uh, they looked like poo) and they were in a place you just couldn’t help seeing, right down front.

I put up with them for five years, suffering in silence because, well, I don’t really know why. Perhaps because every time I want something fixed around here, it ends up costing $300 or more.

ANYWAY. I was in Home Depot (not usually a place I hang out much) getting a bunch of other remodeling-related things and I happened to wander past the toilet seats and my eye was caught by the price on the standard toilet seat: $4.97.

Five bucks? FIVE BUCKS?! I have been putting up with not-poo-but-could-play-it-on-TV marks for FIVE YEARS, when I could have spent FIVE BUCKS and made it go away?!?!

Well, we didn’t have that kind of standard toilet seat, we had the longer (but still standard) one which cost a whopping $8.97.

{sarcasm} Ya. Sticker shock. {/sarcasm}

So needless to say I bought the toilet seat and I brought it home and we installed it (by which I mean, I handed it to my husband and said, “Downstairs toilet. Immediately, please.”) and I was thrilled with it.

So thrilled, in fact (LAME ALERT!), that I insisted on not only telling people about it, but showing them the new toilet seat. That’s right! People came to my house for a party, and got the deluxe Toilet Seat Tour, complete with descriptions of the poo-ish-marks and the $3 drama of ‘standard’ v. ‘extra-long’. With four part harmony and extra chorus repeats.

That this was profoundly lame and/or inappropriate behavior did not strike me until long after my victims guests had fled left.

I.
Am.
Such.
A.
Dork.

But! At least I don’t have faux poo on my toilet seats…

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Drive-by updates…

Yes, I did find the nail clippers. The nail, however, did not come off gently. It had broken below the quick and I may have muttered a few harsh words as I carefully cut it free.

I am still loving it; occasionally I wish I had, you know, people who did all the unpacking for me (or a nanny who had full charge of the Denizens while I did it, either way), but I love the whole thing ridiculously.

Captain Adventure did great in his first day of preschool! He actually talked to his teachers, and even said his own name! (I have never heard him say his own name.) He was a bit sullen at times and flat-out refused to even attempt the Word of the Day: THE. He just stomped his foot and went, “UNNNG!” at her, or growled, when she tried to make him say it.

In other news, I cannot add. I put 7 and 5 together and came up with 22. Gave myself a sleepless night, too, because what I was adding was two payments: $768 and $594. Which does not equal $2,362, which means that a) I am an idiot and b) but not such a big idiot that I would have taken on $2,362 in payments without realizing it.

The Irish Diamond shawl is at that excruciating almost there point. One more row, and then I start the twelve rows of garter stitch, and then I cast it off! Almost…there…

Of course, given that each row is now 744 stitches across, ‘twelve measly rows’ can take a while.

The phone has rung, I kid you not, eight times since I started writing this. Whew!!

And with that, I need to go make dinner and probably answer the phone some more.

Chaos: It’s not just a condition, it’s a lifestyle!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Even on Satanday, good things can happen

Well, Satanday was going about as usual, which is to say, badly. I’m picking up the Denizens and damn it, Danger Mouse is AWOL. So I got looking for her, and can’t find her, and now I’m getting worried, so I’m charging around looking for her, and I break a nail on a heavy bathroom door when a hyperactive third grader kicked it open from inside as I was reaching for the door handle.

I have acrylic nails, so breaking one is not as simple as breaking real ones. It takes a lot more to break one, but boy howdy, when you do?

Owies.

So when I got home I went In Search Of…nail clippers. You laugh, but we are still mid-project and something like nail clippers can rank right up there with Atlantis on the findability scale.

While digging in a likely looking backpack, I found…THE CAMERA!!!!

{Happy dance}

SO! The following picture-heavy post is brought to you by Satan, who was trying to ruin my life but failed due to the power of Serendipity.

Now, I have to say right up front: We’re still in progress. It looks like a clutter nightmare right now…more than half of what is currently on these shelves is coming down over the next few days weeks to be replaced with actual books.

That said, here’s the bookcase!

Bookcase

But wait…there’s more! (Note that the bedroom door is actually standing all the way open!)

Over the door

And my desk:

Desk!

Oh looky! The Carpet Formerly Known As White is gone! And now we have this!!

Walnut!

Oh, why did the bathroom fixtures need replacing?

YUCK!

And what did we put in? (At ridiculous expense, I might add – turns out that the folks who built this bathroom assumed that their brass-plated fixtures would never in a million years need replacing – we had to cut a hole in the synthetic marble to get at them!) (Also, these “roman style” tub faucets are just plain expensive – ouch!)

American Standard

Now, this might be a little hard to see…we had the synthetic marble “painted” white. It isn’t paint-paint, but it isn’t anything much hardier either. If you’re sensing a certain level of “eh”, you’re right – I’m not really feeling the love for this refinishing. It feels kind of sub-level to me. But then, we paid about 20% of what we would have paid to replace it soooooo…you get what you pay for. We figure we’ll leave it alone for now and replace it “eventually”. Which may rhyme with “never”, because sometimes I feel like that is how long it will take to pay all this off.

Bathroom counter

Yes. We’re painting those oak cabinets. I put the unpainted drawers in for contrast – you can see why we’re painting them?! Or maybe not…well, if you were actually standing in front of them, you’d see it. Scarred up, faded in random streaks, the gloss gone in most spots but alas not ALL of them (either way would be fine, but partly one and partly the other was not good).

We replaced the carpet in the bathroom with this tile; I always hated that carpet, and when we pulled it up and found mold under it I felt vindicated for years worth of snarking about it.

Egyptian Beige

I am loving all this; even more, I am loving how it is starting to all come together. Every day, even on the days when it doesn’t feel like it, we’re making progress on All This. This weekend, I finally got my filing system put together, and the stuff that has been needing filing put away.

Where it goes. Where I’ll have a chance (however remote) of finding it again when I need it.

Every day one more box gets unloaded, the contents put not ‘wherever they will fit’ but ‘where they belong’. Soon, the space currently known as The Future Home of a Knitting / Reading / Spinning nook will actually be…home.

Future Home

I can’t wait.

(p.s., that is not a basket of intestines - it is the crap sliver, which I am using to make yarn-like substance, like this:
yarn someday

I. Hate. Mondays.

A few weeks ago, I put my hand over my heart and said, “I do herewith solemnly vow and swear that I shall, from this time forth, refrain from the running of errands, doctor’s appointments, and any other fool thing which takes me out of my Den on Monday, hallelujah! Amen.”

I said this, my dear friends, because Monday should be called Satanday. On this day, Satan has his way with all of us with children in this school district: Every Monday Satanday is an early release day.

Captain Adventure starts preschool tomorrow (and I have got the stack of paperwork to prove it) (many trees have given their all to help my son get into the special needs program, people, let us not forget their sacrifice – please plant a few (dozen) on his behalf, will ya?), not today, why? Because! Normally his preschool runs from 12:00 to 3:00, BUT! On Satanday! He goes from 10:00 to 12:00. The teachers prefer that he start on the ‘normal’ day to get into the swing of things before we go and jerk his chain around with this Satanday madness, sooooo…tomorrow it is.

Those of you keeping track at home will note that on Satanday, Boo Bug gets out of kindergarten at 10:40.

Oh yeah. I’m feelin’ the love right about now. (However, I have also done an end-run around Satan by enrolling Boo Bug in the Kindertime program at school – she now goes until the lower grades get out, so I don’t actually have to pick her up until 1:30 on Satanday.)

Early release days, how I loathe them!!

Today, in spite of my aforementioned (I am using big, legal-sounding words to impress upon you how seriously I took this vow, hence heightening the drama of the breaking thereof to follow) vow, I went to Costco.

Why would I go to Costco on Satanday? Of all days? When I have such a short window of opportunity and such a large amount of weekend-recovery-housework to do?

Because we were out of milk. Out. None. Zero. If I wanted an afternoon mocha (yes, please) or to make a casserole for dinner (uh, maybe), darn it, I had to get milk. And I needed to go to Costco anyway, seeing as how we were would of damn near everything, aaaand the milk is about fifty cents cheaper for the two gallons there so!

I had to go to Costco (‘running of errands’), on Satanday, thus giving Satan yet another chance to dig his hooks into my soul. Because Costco opens at 10:00, I was out doing the Costco thing until 11:30, at which point I had to scurry back and unload, putting things away as quickly as I could while making important (and almost forgotten) phone calls while also eating lunch (THAT had to be fun for the folks I was calling – “Hi, this is {gulp} Tama, you called me last week about some {slurp, chew chew, gulp} vital thing or other, I forget what exactly?”) AND feeding Captain Adventure, a feat of multitasking that I feel ought to be recorded somewhere (so, uh, I’ll use my blog).

And now, right immediately now in fact, I have to get back in Homer the Odyssey to pick up my Satanettes lovely daughters from school. At which point, anything and everything I try to accomplish will be punctuated with constant cries of, “Mommy? Mommy! Can I {lengthy, convoluted statement – or question, hard to tell}? Plllllleeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzz?”

I. Hate. Mondays.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I don’t know how to take this

We are still working on our master bathroom; we can use the tub and we have sinks and (arguably most importantly) a toilet.

What we are still lacking is a functioning shower and…mirrors.

We are fresh out of ways to stare at ourselves, in our ‘master suite’.

So this morning I got up and put on clothes and brushed my hair and so forth without any kind of visual guide, as it were, to my actual appearance (this becomes important later).

Then I went downstairs and made coffee and we got started with the day and all that.

A few hours later (!!!), I got my first glimpse of myself in a mirror.

I looked like…I don’t know what I looked like. Some kind of…sub-human deranged lunatic who after about eleven years of no sleep (my bottom eyelids could be used as sleeping bags) had just escaped the mental ward by braiding an escape rope out of her hair (leaving a strange ragged lunatic fringe on the sides) digging a tunnel with her teeth (I don’t want to know what IT was between those bucky monsters down front), and then attempted to assimilate into society by tucking half her shirt into her pants while leaving the other half dangling out a-la some kind of hip-hop-rap-stah look.

Good.
Grief.

My exclamation of shock and horror (“Oh my GAWD I look positively DEEEEE-RANGED!”) caught the attention of my husband, who glanced me up and down and then said, and I quote, “What?”

What? WHAT? What do you mean, “What”?!

Do you not see what is standing right in front of you?!

And then he says, matter-of-factly, “You look just like you always do – I don’t see what’s freaking you out.”

I…really don’t know how to take that. As much as I’d like to translate this to mean, You are so gorgeous that even when looking like a deranged escapee from a mental ward, you look great, I’m afraid it is probably more like, You have looked like a deranged escapee from a mental ward for so long, I have forgotten you could look any other way.

People, I need mirrors in my bathroom, and I need them yesterday - before somebody tries to put me back in the ward with my very own padded room.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

And I thought I was Da Chef

So, last year I successfully (which here means, ‘without giving anybody botulism’) roasted a 25 pound turkey and thought I was pretty hot stuff. And then there was the year I managed a 30 pound beer-basted prime rib roast. Or the time that I whumped out fourteen pies in a single morning.

Oh yeah, I said to myself on these occasions, Who da chef? I’M DA CHEF, BABY.

Ya, well.

The funny white hat, she is passed to Mr. Rich Portnoy.

To win in a game of sibling rivalry gone way past the usual limits, he has roasted up a Seventy-Two (72) Pound Turkey.

Oh.
My.
Dawg.

His sister did a 47 pound (!!!) monster last year, trumping the paltry 37 pounder (!!) her brother found.

SO THIS YEAR, Mr. Brother Guy went straight to the source and found this gigantic beast and put it into his “36-inch-wide, chef-caliber oven” (when I read that, I blurted out, “Well, but, that’s like…CHEATING OR SOME JUNK!”, which is nothing but green-eyed envy at its finest…) and his sister had concede defeat.

“…but noted that her brother's large oven gave him an edge.”

YES! EXACTLY! It doesn’t count! IT DOESN’T COUNT!!!

So, in the interest of fairness, I think I should trade ovens with Mr. Portnoy, and then he and his sister can have it out in a clean, fair fight.

I am willing to make these kinds of sacrifices, this is how good a person I am.

Any time you’re ready to make this a good, clean fight, Mr. Portnoy – call me.

I’m here for you, buddy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Orange Meringue Pie

My horoscope today said, You might feel like fulfilling your needs through indulging your desire for comfort today...Finding a healthy raw food restaurant that gives you the encouragement to eat well more often could also be another way to indulge yourself.

Oh, hell no. Finding a raw food restaurant when I have orange meringue pie in my fridge right this very minute?

Are you crazy?!

This, by the way, is an awesome pie. It went really well with the turkey last night, and is a pleasantly different kind of pie to make. SO! I feel it is my moral imperative to pass along the recipe; it has been modified from the original to increase the eggs and orange juice (half a cup? That’s more like a ‘hint of orange but actually very lemony meringue’!).

Here we go.

1 9” baked pie crust

1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar (depends on how sweet your orange juice is!)
5 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups orange juice (preferably fresh-squeezed, but nobody will disown you for using concentrate) (and if they do, well, that’s more pie for you, isn’t it!)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup water
1 crummy tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice (ooooh, tartness!)
1 tablespoon shredded orange peel (actually, I consider this optional)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup superfine sugar (you can also use just plain old sugar; or if you’re got the time and inclination, you can take your regular sugar and give it a quick whir in the food processor)

OK! Bake that pie crust and set it aside. Leave the oven on at 400, you’ll need it later for the meringue.

Juice your oranges! This time around, I used a whack of Satsuma Mandarins I got from Planet Organics. Their juice was very sweet and a really intense orange. You would have sworn I used food dye in it! It took about a dozen of these little guys to get a cup and a half (plus a quality assurance swallow for the cook, very important) of juice.

Separate your eggs! It is very important that you have no yolk in the whites! A little white in the yolks is OK, but if there is even a drop of yolk in the whites you won’t get a big old fluffy meringue. Also, make sure you are putting them into a bowl which is absolutely clean. Any oil in there will also keep them from getting good and stiff. Set the whites aside, but don’t put them back in the fridge. You want them to come up to room temperature because, again, that’s how you get a nice big fluffy meringue.

Now, put your starch, sugar, and salt into a heavy saucepan. I have found that the heavier pans really do make this a lot easier; they tend to distribute heat more evenly and gently. Combine those together, then add the orange juice and mix.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and water together. Turn on your heat to medium (no cheating! I know it takes forever, but High Is Not Your Friend!), and slowly pour in the yolk/water potion.

Settle in and enjoy the gentle motion of your spoon as you stir constantly and I mean constantly for about eighteen years well, for as long as it takes for the concoction to thicken up and start to boil. Boil and stir for one minute, taking care not to be splattered with the napalm custard. It hurts. Trust me on that one.

Take it off the heat, mix in your butter and lemon juice and orange peel (if using) (frankly, I almost never do), and pour it into the pie shell.

Now, quick! To the meringue! You want to make it fast and get it on there because otherwise you’ll get an unpleasant film on the top of your pie! If you must walk away right now, put some plastic wrap over the filling – actually press it down onto the filling. Yes. You will lose a little filling – but at least you won’t have a Saran-wrap-like gelatin uck between your meringue and the filling.

Sprinkle the cream of tartar into your egg whites and set those beaters on stun medium. Beat those eggs like they’re your ex for about a minute, until soft peaks are forming. Then remember just how mean that ex was, raise the speed to annihilate high and continue beating away while sprinkling your sugar about a tablespoon at a time into the bowl, until you’ve got nice stiff, glossy peaks forming – the kind you could, if so inclined, do artwork with like rosettes or stars or the Mona Lisa (in egg white form!).

Then do whatever you feel like doing. Only once in my life have I actually piped stars all over my pie; usually I just take a spoon and plop it all over, smooth it down, give it a few artistic twirls and then?

Into that 400 degree oven, for about five minutes. WATCH IT CLOSELY. Sometimes, in five minutes you don’t have a single patch of brown anywhere; sometimes, in five minutes, it’s starting to blacken. The transition from ‘perfect’ to ‘too dark’ is literally a matter of seconds, so I tend to perch anxiously next to the oven staring at it from the 3 minute mark until I pull it out.

And then, uh, you eat it. Sharing is considered polite, but sometimes is a little overrated.

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving! And don't you just love me sharing FOOD recipes the day after?!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yarn Gone Wild!!

Well, the socks in progress had suffered one of those things that sometimes happen to projects which are ‘take along’ projects: The working ball of yarn had become more of a working blob of yarn, due entirely to mishandling on my part. I had taken it out of my bag and put it someplace stupid and annoying so that I would remember that I needed to deal with the problem before putting it back in my bag to work on some more.

And then Captain Adventure got hold of it.

**sigh**

So, I spent some quality time teasing it back from blob to strand form, and then I had my husband hold the project overhead while I wound the yarn into a ball with my ball winder. Now, when you do this (and now that I’ve put the idea into your head, you know you will!), the yarn between the beginning of the ball and your project will be wildly overspun.

You’ve got to let it unravel.

So I hung the sock in progress over the railing and let it dangle toward the first floor of the Den, where it slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y revolved. My husband, hereinafter referred to as Mr. Engineering Expertise, was fascinated by this whole process.

“The ball would spin faster!” Mr. Engineering Expertise exclaimed. He exclaimed this because he is a bright boy with a keen grasp of aerodynamics.

I said, “Uh…” but the ball was already starting over the rail, lowered by his enthusiastic hand. It was spinning like a top. Whirrrrrrrrrrrr!!

And then it began to slow down, and a test of the strand showed that the over-spin was greatly lessened. So I delicately pulled up the ball, thanking the Knitting Goddesses that the ball hadn’t broken loose and shot all over the house when we dangled it over the ra-

“I think it needs a quick spin,” Mr. Engineering Expertise sang out eagerly. He went on burbling about how the spin was almost out and it just needed a quick and before I could yell “WAIT!”, he gave the center-pull ball a firm tap in the direction he wanted it to spin.

That ball of yarn giggled wildly as it flew to the floor and scurried unsteadily out of sight under the hallway. “Whoooooo! I’m so dizzy! I’m all fuzzily-wuzzily! Eeeeehee hee hee hee heeeeeeeee!”

If it had been wearing a bra, I’m pretty sure it would have pulled it all the way over its head and wriggled its loose bits at us.

**sigh**

In case you were wondering how long it takes to knit up a strand of sock yarn equal to one story plus about three feet?

About half an hour.

If you can stop laughing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Parenting is SO overrated

My children are annoying me. They want snack. And (ugh) interaction, or some junk like that.

Do they not understand that having just discovered Judy's Magic Cast-On, I cannot be expected to do anything else except IMMEDIATELY cast on a pair of socks so I can see how this works?!

Sheesh. This "parenting" thing can be so darned inconvenient sometimes...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Serendipity and Interior Design

I went furniture shopping this weekend. I have now been to so many furniture stores my mind boggles just thinking about it. I have been to stores new, used, consignment, cheap, expensive, going out of business and just starting into business.

My last two stops of the day were a consignment store, and Ethan Allen.

In the consignment store, I found no furniture – but! I did find something else.

So there I was, poking around in search of club chairs and a sofa. And there it was, forlorn in the back of the store, shoved unceremoniously on top of a truly hideous end table.

An antique skein winder.

Have you ever had the feeling that Hands Unseen were guiding you?

Two weekends ago, I took a spinning class at Meridian Jacobs farm. See, twenty years ago I used to spin with a drop spindle…but I never learned to use a wheel. My husband bought me one way back when, and it has been a lovely decorative feature in our various homes since then – but it has never produced actual yarn.

Until a couple weekends ago, when Robin taught me what all those knobs and springs were for, and showed me how to turn sliver into actual yarn.

I think it is a tribute to her skills that I was producing actual yarn by the end of our time together. She is a seriously good teacher, and also a Darned Good Person©. Her weaving is seriously beautiful, too, and now I want to learn to weave.

Where I think I could put a floor loom is beyond me, and also beside the point. I want to make things like the things Robin was producing on her looms, and that’s all the logic I need. I am currently holding myself back only by the thought that really, one new obsession at a time is all I can handle. I’ve got a couple bags of crap sliver to learn with, and then one bag of gorgeous sliver to perfect with, and then I’ve got a few Hefty bags of raw fleece in the garage, which was what drove me to the spinning lessons in the first place. Long story, for another time, but I’m determined to actually make something with that fleece.

ANYWAY.

There it was, a beautiful old skein winder. It measures out to a rather odd 79.5” around (two yards would be 72”, two and a half 90”…I don’t get this, but as I’m not a commercial spinner I’m not going to worry about it), and the clicker gives out a loud and cheerful :click!: every forty revolutions.

It had a tag on it which said: “Spinning Wheel: $99.00 $79.00 $65.00 $45.00”

After I got done snickering about the ‘spinning wheel’ part, I grabbed it, lugged it up to the front, set it down and bellowed, “SOLD!” as I shoved money at the nice lady.

She then got a touch irritated, because after being in her shop for over a year without anybody giving it so much as a single curious glance, almost a dozen people crowded around it while she was filling out the sales receipt going, “Oh, what’s that? A which? What’s it for? You mean it actually DOES something? Isn’t it cute! Oh, how awesome! Do you have any more? Do you get a lot of them? Eek shriek giggle envy oh I just love it!”

After that triumph, I walked next door to Ethan Allen, waving my sock (closest thing to a white flag I could find at the time), shoved my Amex at them and said, “Want sit-on-thingees. You send in truck, charge Amex. Ugh. Wah. OK. Bye bye.”

OK, the conversation was slightly more high level than that, but not by much. Basically, I walked in, looked around, picked out the chair I wanted for my bedroom, and then sobbed hysterically about the insane requirements my husband has for the club chairs downstairs. Leather club chairs, tall ones with robust wings. Built for Mr. 6’4”.

I defy you to find this at IKEA. Or Macy’s. Or Sue’s Furniture Loft. ANYWHERE. We are talking about some very old-school ‘gentleman’s club’ style wing chairs. They just don’t make them like that anymore – everything is very ‘sleek and modern’ right now, and my husband wants a very, extremely, almost down to the precise measurements in centimeters style of chair.

I have looked. I did not find. Until I walked into Ethan Allen, where they said, “Oh yes, certainly we have those, right here! Now, here are approximately 11,000 different kinds of leather – which would you like? With or without nail trim? Do you like lion foot, or plain? And for the sofa, do you want fabric or leather? Reaaaalllllly? Are you suuuuuure? {shaking head at me to indicate correct answer would be ‘no, I’ve changed my mind, please take me by my interior-design-impaired hand and lead me’}”

I have given up, people. I am paying about $500 over my already inflated, “OK, but this is as high as I go and I really mean it!” budget for this furniture – and it is worth it to me. My ‘personal decorator’ Lisa is coming out here week after next to measure the room and check out our (so-called) d├ęcor and help us choose fabric and whatnot and to advise us on tables and then she is going to order our furniture and it will be delivered and I will sign the charge slip possibly without even looking at it and next year?

SO going to be a Living Below Your Means: Full Body Contact Sport kind of year.

But that’s OK. I can be frugal in my new bedroom, and hold coupon clipping sessions in my very grown-up living room, and if I want to read a nice book as an alternative to going out on an expensive jaunt to the mall, I can pick one from my own library upstairs.

If I’m not too busy spinning and skeining, anyway.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Preschool at 12:00, Captain!

Today was Captain Adventure’s big day, the day on which the gathered professionals would give us their professional opinions about what (if any) professional intervention he needed to make up for my bad parenting overcome the bad genes he inherited from me move him out of this strange world he’s mired in and into this so-called ‘real life’ we humans have invented for ourselves.

So first they gave me the run-down on their test results, which they were anxious to assure me were to be taken “cautiously”, because, duh, he’s only three. They tested a three year old, and he didn’t necessarily ace the test, WHAT A SURPRISE! He can do a lot of these things we did not observe, they said. Blah blah blah.

And then they laid on me that my three year, four month old son tests to about a one to one-and-a-half year level on everything from speech and language to social skills. His motor skills are all over the place – on some tests, he comes back at that one year level again, on others he’s either at or even above age level.

I wasn’t surprised at all. If you asked me, that’s exactly what I would have said from my position of Not A Professional, Nor Do I Play One On TV. As his mommy, I would have said that my son talked like a baby of 18 months old-ish.

I still wanted to cry, though. And get all defensive and try to bring up whatever-all he’s done lately that was so definitely better than that.

I’m not sure why I do that. I want my boy to get whatever help is appropriate for him. Sugar-coating his issues is not helpful. I want other people to take his problems seriously and HELP US DAMMIT.

So why I find myself going all weepy and denial-y whenever someone agrees with me that he has issues that need intervention, I cannot begin to fathom.

Anyway, after they laid their results on me (and I resisted the urge to argue with them), they then made their recommendations.

Get the paperwork filled out right away, because the boy is eligible for and welcome to the special needs preschool, Speech and Language Edition. This is a pretty heavy-duty program (for a little guy, anyway), five days a week, three hours a day. There is speech therapy, physical education, preschool curriculum including pre-reading and pre-math. I was hoping and praying he would be invited to go, because I had heard incredible things about it from other parents around town.

He starts the week after the Thanksgiving break (eep! that’s so soon!), and these lovely ladies are really expecting that he is going to take to it like a duck to water and that we will start to see his speech and language and social skills ramp up at an incredible rate.

I believe them, because frankly his progress just here at home with me has been incredible already. He’s even lost most of his separation anxiety over the last couple months. He runs right into the speech therapy center without a backward glance and has a rockin’ great time without me (sniff!), and loves to go to the daycare at the gym.

This being only three hours a day, I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine.

I, on the other hand…may be sniffling into a hankie a lot the first couple weeks. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I am very much looking forward to those roughly two hours a day I will have with no Denizens clinging to me. I can get my nails done, do my grocery shopping, pay bills, whatever – without either having to turn on the Electronic Babysitter or repeat “Mommy is busy, please go play for a little while” eleventy-zillion times, or dragging them along and then saying, “NO!” every eight seconds for the duration of the outing.

Sometimes, I just want to grab the milk and some bananas and get out of there, without having to defend my decisions to a gaggle of over-opinionated children.

But still…I am very protective of Captain Adventure. That thing where I agree that he’s like a one year old baby? That’s kind of how I view him, and I coddle him as such. Whiiiiich of course makes it a darned good thing that they will be prying him out of my over-protective cocoon. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a lot of his delays are because I enable him in them.

**sigh**

But then came the part I was pretty sure was coming, but was hoping against hope they were going to dismiss as impossible. This is the part where I once again start arguing and denying something that I have demanded and insisted be looked into for my son.

There are still concerns about autism.

The problem is, the few behaviors he has that could maybe might be signs of autism are also classic signs of a frustrated three year old who can’t figure out how to communicate with people. He doesn’t always do any of them, and most of them only occur when he is tired, sick, over-stimulated (say, at parties) or otherwise off. None of them are the obvious signs, but many of them are “troubling.”

Instantly, I’m getting all defensive and arguing. But he doesn’t do this or this or this! And he does do that and that and that! Sure, he’s a little odd, but he’s only three! He’s getting better!

I have to sit there and say to myself, over and over again, that what I want, what I’m there for, what I have fought for and argued for and otherwise made a pain in the butt of myself to get, is precisely this. For this group of skilled, experienced people to give him a good hard professional look, and tell me what to do for my boy.

We are still walking his path together, just as I am with his sisters. Sometimes, the paths are easy (having Eldest tested for GATE, for example, is easy-peasy). Sometimes, they aren’t so much fun. Denial is not going to make it all better. I don’t have to like it, but I do have to walk down these various possible paths with him to see where they lead…if anywhere.

I’ve got to keep walking onward, even if what I want to do is snatch him up and run back home and pretend there’s nothing wrong, and that his path is no harder than anybody else’s, and that absolutely without any extra work he will be just like any other five year old by the time he’s five.

So onward it is. To preschool, and more assessments, and more screenings, and more “now, does your son do this? and that? I see…what about this other thing? No? Are you sure?”

Which I very much want them to do.

And it would be much easier for them to do it if I were not so busy sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting, “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another milestone

The carpet on the stairs and upstairs hallway, she is installed. I had forgotten how good new carpet feels to walk on – the new pad is firm and quiet, and the carpet itself pushes back against your foot.

Also it is not “formerly white” nor does it have large mysterious black spots mocking me from each and every stair.

Life is good.

We are now in a period of lull. There should be no hammering, pounding, nailing, sawing, drywall-ing or baseboard-ing in this Den until after Thanksgiving. There will be some painting and such, but unless a miracle happens and the tile guy suddenly has a window on his time to do the kid’s bathroom – no more contractors until after the holiday.

I suppose I should be pouting, but I am actually incredibly relieved. I am tired, people. Tired of strangers in the house, tired of the noise and the dust and the inability to get things done. Today I couldn’t go upstairs for most of the day, because they were installing the carpet. They finished right before I went to collect the older Denizens from school, and by the time we got home I was wiped out.

No longer interested in putting away laundry, for Pete’s sake.

Tomorrow is another day, and on that day I hope to spend a considerable chunk of time putting our lives back together. Getting the ironing done, unloading boxes into drawers, that kind of thing.

Meanwhile, I don’t even guarantee I’m going to do the dishes tonight. Captain Adventure has been pissy all day (he’s got a nasty cold). He went to bed at THREE-THIRTY, woke up briefly at 5:30 screaming and carrying on, then went back to sleep and declined to get up for dinner.

It’s going to be an interesting night around here. Either he’s going to just sleep on through (best possible thing for him right now), or, he’s going to be up and needy in a few hours time.

And I am already feeling that tickle in the back of my throat, and the creeping headache.

Ugh.

I’m supposed to be taking my three daughters to tea on Saturday, and my husband to a charity dinner that night. This is not good timing for a cold!

No. Think positive. THINK POSITIVE. It isn’t a cold, it’s just that…I need…a glass of wine! Yes, it is simply that there is too much blood in my alcohol stream, and a quick glass of Malbec is just the ticket…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Empty stores and overflowing boxes

OK, a few years ago I was driving around town and a new furniture place was opening up and I said to myself, said I, “Self! How the heck many furniture stores do we NEED around here?!”

There were five that I was aware of, plus about three that I vaguely remembered but never drove past.

Today, I loaded up Captain Adventure to go in search of {dramatic music} furniture.

There are now two (2) games in town.

And one is going out of business, liquidating inventory and calling it quits, after fourteen years in that (gosh-awful) location, and they have precisely nothing left I would be interested in.

Even though the manager of that store had told me all about how they had hoped, given that stores 1, 2, 3…7 had all folded, that their business would pick up due to the utter lack of competition, well, it hadn’t…there then followed a highly amusing little drive around town while Captain Adventure pounded back a chocolate milk and Snickerdoodle, and I sucked down a peppermint mocha while muttering, “Wait, wasn’t there a furniture store in here? I’d swear there was…didn’t we get a dresser there once?”

Gone. Gone, gone, gone.

Whoa.

The surviving store, alas, specializes in modern-transitional…we’re going for more of a traditional thing (delusions of English manor house abound), and while I found their stuff interesting, amusing, kewl and otherwise groovy…I don’t actually want it.

**sigh**

I’m going to have to make a pilgrimage to Modesto.

To shop for furniture.

In other news, I asked my husband if he had found the camera yet. When he got done laughing, he said, “I can’t believe you’re even asking me about that!”

You see the kind of support I get around here?! He obviously does not understand that taking pictures of this is critical for the health and well-being of my blog. Also I need to take pictures of the shawl, which is behaving itself nicely and knitting rather quickly (although it is one of those deceitful little beggars, which starts with a bland, “Cast on 74 stitches…” and ends up at 11,072,761 stitches which you are then commanded to “bind off loosely”, as if having just knit a final row of 11,072,761 stitches you are going to have any possibility of binding off in any fashion not involving wild-eyed desperation and extreme tightness).

But I digress.

Upshot being, I still owe you pictures. And somewhere in all this, is a camera.

Somewhere.

I’m dying to show you. But first, I have to get off my butt, get through the boxes, and find the danged camera.

Right. I think we all know what I need to do.

To the liquor cabinet! To the boxes!! HO!!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not to whine, but…

I still have shopping to do. I need a decent chair for my bedroom. Now, I don’t need the silk cushioned Top Drawer chair, but I do need a “real” one. Comfortable, sturdy, well-constructed, suitable for many years of service. And a small table for setting down mai tai’s steaming cups of Entirely Proper and Not A Bit Eyebrow Raising Tea.

Ya, right. Tea. {Snort!}

(OK, so, actually I do like tea, quite a bit – but I also love me the mai tai’s and suspect that if I calculated things out by pure percentage there would be more mai tai’s hitting that little table over time than cups of tea – but I digress.)

I also want a set of furniture for the living room (currently furnished with four dining room chairs and two bedside tables with broken drawer pulls – and by “broken”, I mean “snapped off from the inside such that you can’t just buy new pulls and fix it, you need to repair the broken-out wood first and to do that you will need to rebuild the entire @*^&@ing drawer which will cost more than a new one neener-neener”): a small sofa, two club chairs and a coffee table.

Which, uh, go together. You know, like a set? You’ve heard of these, I know you have, they’re things that are all made to go together? As opposed to the ‘well, I got this chair out of a dumpster, IMAGINE, someone was throwing away that perfectly good chair, and that chair I got from my friend’s uncle’s cousin when they were moving to Argentina, and that table, well, it isn’t really a table it’s actually a milk crate covered with cardboard and then a re-purposed flat sheet, but you’d never know if I didn’t tell you, right?’ method of home furnishing?

The problem is, I don’t like shopping. I’m not a shopper. I’m not a person who says, “Oh joy! I’m going to the Angels Singing Furniture Store to spend hours and hours wandering around sitting in chairs looking for Ye Perfecte Chaire for my bedroom! Squeal!”

I’m more of the, “@*^&@ing chairs I can’t believe I have to go to that @*^&@ing Cave O’Furniture to look for a stupid chair. Probably won’t have one anyway. And I’m not spending no $300 on it, either! Stupid *^&@ing furniture with the @*^&@ patterns and no, I don’t know if I want a wing-back or a camel what the @*^&@ does that even MEAN?!” type shopper.

A joy to be around, no really. I’m sure salespeople are falling all over themselves throughout the Central Valley at the thought that I might be casting my shadow over their doorsill any moment now.

But I have learned my lesson about shopping for furniture online, having bought a couple chairs that way over the years that turned out to be far less than I’d hoped. And now that I’m actually willing to drop more than a hundred bucks for the set (well, probably ‘resigned to’ is better than ‘willing to’), well.

I have to find and/or make the time to go forth and find myself these furnishings.

Can you sense the enthusiasm coursing through my veins?

Are you high on something?

Because there isn’t any enthusiasm!! NONE!!! I am pissy about it, and you’d think I was being asked to go for a colonoscopy or something, this is how not-jazzed I am about it.

What’s really sad is, I’m excited about having the furniture. We’ve waited a long, long time for this stuff. For the first time, we’re not settling for whatever we can find at the thrift and/or consignment stores that mostly goes with what we have. No! We’re shopping for exactly what we want (which is not to say I won’t be checking the thrift and/or consignment stores first) (because I will be, thank you very much), which should be a source of much rejoicing and gaiety.

I will be very, very happy when it’s all over and the furniture is delivered. I will fawn all over my new things and probably behave in a very sappy manner indeed. If you had been here when California Closets finished up my closet and I was standing there sniveling into a Kleenex about how beautiful it all was, you’d know what I mean. Pathetic. And I have actually declared my love of the new home office / library structures (and boy are they STRUCTURES) aloud and in front of witnesses and I even used vulgarity (“I love these shelves so @*^&@ing much! I love them! Who’s a beautiful shelf? YOU ARE! Yessh you are-y-war-y, I wuv- oh, hello, did you, uh, want to ask me something about the tile in the bathroom? *ahem*…”)

But the process of finding and purchasing?

BAH, HUMBUG!!!

Oh well. It’s hard to have such problems, huh? Poor, poor me. What next, am I going to be asked to eat steak and drink champagne? Imagine the suffering!

Which reminds me: acorn squash. (I know, but it isn’t that I have ADD it’s just that – oh look! A squirrel!)

Take the acorn squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds (high maintenance to eat [little meat to a lot of pod] but nice just pan roasted with a hint of oil and salt) put the cut side down in a baking tray and add about a quarter cup of water. Bake at 350 for, eh, half an hour or so – until it’s nice and fork-tender. Depends on the size of the squash.

Then, flip it over, put a pat of butter (about a teaspoon-ish) into the middle, a sprinkling of salt (trust me, it needs a touch of salt), cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and brown sugar all over it, and put it back into the oven cut-side up until it’s all melty in the middle.

Eats like pie and does not suck at all.

Exactly not a bit like shopping for furniture. Which does suck, mightily, and tastes nothing like pie.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

PROGRESS!

Ohmygawd ohmygawd ohmygawd ohmygawd! I just cleared out my email inbox!!

Lest you think this a piddly task – I had 0 messages in my trash when I started, and now I have 531 in there.

{rubs hands together briskly, looking very pleased with herself}

Of course, I’ve taken care of almost no actual business yet, so I supposed my self-congratulations are a tad premature. Also, y’all have been chatty again! I’ve got over 400 unread posts on my fav blogs…sigh…oh well, I did feel like I had Accomplished Something this morning…

IN OTHER NEWS, there are two (2) different sets of contractors in my bedroom right now! The tile is being laid in the bathroom AND California Closets is finishing the installation of our ‘solutions’. I already love it (and am sure it will be one of those ‘uhhhhhh…what were they thinking?...’ things when we go to sell eventually). It is massive. Storage space! Storage space soaring all the way up the wall! Cubbies! Drawers! Cabinets!!

{swoon!}

I also bought new bedding yesterday, because the stuff I bought eight years ago had holes in it because apparently you can’t wash sheets weekly for eight years and expect them to still look new, who knew? I am sparing no expense on this remodel.

You know what I didn’t realize? I did not realize that so few comforters / duvets were dry clean only.

I am religious about very few things, house-keeping-wise. I consider most things to be more guidelines than rules. I wash the kitchen floor whenever it bugs me, and sanitize the door handles, uh, well, when someone gets sick. Or when I notice that they seem bigger and upon inspection discover that someone has completely encased them in Play-Doh or something.

But when it comes to bedding, you may call me the Clean Freak. Sheets must be changed weekly. They must be washed on ‘sanitize’. Comforters, duvets and pillows are washed every six weeks; occasionally I might let our parental one go to three months, but the kids’ stuff I wash with all the zeal of the recently converted.

I can’t imagine having to take it all to the dry cleaners.

Which of course means that I wouldn’t. It would just continue to gather dust, dirt, snot, dandruff and $DEITY only knows what-all else, day after day, weeks into months.

EWWWW.

I’m probably just being weird(er than usual). I know normal people don’t wash their whole bedding sets as often as I do; I know that the usual recommended period is every six months to a year. Which amazes me and also makes me wonder: Do average people’s kids not produce snot and, uh, other stuff at night? Because if I didn’t wash their comforters more often than that, they’d crackle when moved, if you catch my drift.

ANYWAY.

I am so close to being able to put my life back together. I know that people go much longer with much more madness; shoot, we lived for years without a dresser or bookshelves or home office areas.

But that was then. This is now. And right now, it is causing me to forget things, or mis-remember them (thought a 10:00 appointment was at 1:00, or thought I had paid a bill when I hadn’t). I’m also very tired of shopping for clean clothing on my dining room table, thank you very much.

So close. Just another few days, and I should be able to start getting things back where they belong. Or, in many cases, into a place where they belong – something they’ve never had before.

Everybody wants to belong.

Even random paperwork and stitch markers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hello, Internet

Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. Well. They are at least partially exaggerated, or perhaps merely a bit premature.

In any case, I really am still alive. See, I left Thursday for a four day trip to Disneyland with a trio of girlfriends (no husbands, no kids) and in spite of only one (1) evening of relatively low-grade drinking I am still feeling a tad hung-over.

We talk a good story, but I’m afraid none of us are wild party girls any more. When we say we’re drinkin’ heavy, we either mean that we had two.whole.cocktails!, or that we got the half-gallon sized water bottle for the day.

But we did frolic and giggle and shriek and otherwise behave rather without dignity for three straight days, and when I got home I basically walked through the door, hugged everybody and then went to bed.

What I’m sure you all want to know is: What’s happening with the sweater?

I don’t know.

We still aren’t speaking.

My new True Love, to which I am faithful beyond telling, is the Irish Diamond Shawl (here modeled by the lovely Wendy of Wendy Knits). For once, I am doing it in the yarn called for, Harrisville Shetland. I am having a love-hate relationship with this yarn. I love it because it is crisp, and I can already see that the lace pattern is going to look really, really good. And I hate it because it is not alpaca not ooey-gooey soft.

But if the shawl washes up like my swatch did, it should become a bit softer after the ceremonious Pre-Blocking Dip.

And as soon as I find the camera, I’ll take some pictures, I pinkie-promise.

The remodeling is…driving me nuts. Lessee. We were supposed to have almost everything done this very week – the tile in the bathrooms, and the California Closets solutions (it just tickles me that they are called ‘solutions’, for some stupid reason) (possibly because I am easily entertained) installed by Thursday and then we would all have a group hug and promise to stay in touch and each go our separate ways.

BUT, the kid’s bathroom floor has some significant water damage and a little mold, so instead we have to pull out everything, replace the sub-flooring (meh!) and so forth and so on. SO, we decided that, in for a penny in for a pound, we’d go ahead and do the whole remodel in there. We’re taking it from one sink to two, changing out the cabinetry, and adding three more medicine cabinets to replace the big mirror – two in the middle and one on each side. We’ll also be getting rid of the infamous yellowing cultured marble, replacing it with another synthetic that allegedly doesn’t do that. Uh-huh, yeah, we’ll see. We’re also adding a sliding glass door to the bathtub, to minimize future water damage.

We should be done sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas on that. **sigh**

Meanwhile, it was discovered that the tile that was delivered was the wrong tile. CURSES! How wrong? Well, we ordered Egyptian Beige. We got Indian Red.

There is a slight color difference. Like, one is white-ish and the other is red.

ANYWAY. They told us that it would be a week or two before they’d have the correct tile delivered and then another week or two before they could come back and install it. And we had been told they had to finish THEIR job before California Closets could do the closet.

CURSES!!!!!

See, I am having a little bit of difficulty with this whole “I have no master suite” thing. I have become accustomed to little luxuries like a dresser and a bathtub. I like being able to take a shower without a constant stream of Denizens, who burst in like the DEA taking down a drug cartel screaming, “SORRY MOMMA I GOTTA GO POTTTTEEEEEEEE!”

This tends to happen frequently when you’re down to only one bathroom for six people.

My clothing is all over the house, I can’t find any socks, and my “office” is scattered throughout the house AND garage. I couldn’t find a pen to save my life. It is causing me to become emotional and irrational. And also to spend a lot of money on stuff I already own, because I can’t find the stuff I already own and I need it NOW!!

Like a set of stitch markers. And a(nother) skein of Schaefer Yarns Anne. I know I have about six million stitch markers somewhere, but I needed a set NOW. And as for the Anne, well…it was pretty. And smelled good. And it said it loved me too. So I bought it. Who am I to deny true love?

I am very tired of the emotional rollercoaster. First there is much rejoicing, because the project will be finished this week! YAY! And then, it will not! BOO! And then we can do half of the California Closets! YAY! And then, the kid’s bathroom will take even longer! BOO! California Closets can actually do the closets before the tile is in! YAY! Wait, Tile Guy says we’re going to get the tile this week? Tomorrow?! YAY YAY YAY…wait, this means that California Closets has to do the closet first, so they can do the closet on Thursday? OK! YAY! California Closets says, “Oh, really? Because the bedroom set is really big, and we’ve already loaded it on the truck…” BOO! “…but because you are more than halfway to Psychoville and might hurt us if we don’t such a nice lady, we’ll go ahead and reload the truck with the closet materials first.” YAY!!!

SO. According to theory (and we all know how well that’s been working out for us here), we should have our bedroom back together by Thursday, which gives me all day Friday to start sorting all the crap now strewn around the house as if a miniature tornado had blown through it (Tupperware and moo-moos, as far as the eye can see…) (I am really, honestly embarrassed to have people over right now, it is that bad) (even the contractors, I wish they could do the work without, you know, actually coming into the house).

If $DEITY is with me, I’ll have a functioning life again by Monday.

And also pictures of my new digs. Which will be completed, except for all the detail work. I expect we will finish that shortly before we die retire move have our Christmas gathering.

And now, somehow, it is time to get the older Denizens. Honestly. That earth-speeding-up thing? It’s real. Remind me to email Al Gore about it, I’ll bet he has the resources to prove it…