Thursday, April 30, 2009

Got too much, hence got nothin’

YA KNOW…I have heard the phrase “the toughest job you’ll ever love” from a wide variety of sources, about an equally large variety of jobs. The Peace Corps is the original, of course. And I have precisely zero experience working for them, so I couldn’t tell you whether or not it’s accurate.

Parenting, however, yes. It is a tough gig and I love it. Mostly. Except for those occasions when I’m faced with a raging sea of Important Decisions and find myself just sitting there opening and closing my mouth like a dying trout, with no Words of Wisdom threatening to flow forth.

The Denizens are in the final month of school, and it is hard going. They’re sick of school, I’m terrified of what happens when it lets out. I’ve got nothing for childcare all summer (thank you, parks and rec, for cutting back the summer camp to three hours in the morning…), so, you know…really.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with the kids while I’m working.

Which brings me to the other tough job, owning a business. It’s hard work, and I love it. Mostly. Except that dog dang, but it is hard work. It’s up early, up late kind of work. It’s never put to bed, and no matter how many hours you spend chipping away at it, there’s always one more thing you’d like to get done before you hit the old sack for a few hours of battery recharge.

In fact, right now I’m working on proposals for a wide array of potential jobs…submit ten, hope to actually get one.

Heh. Watch. We’ll get all ten, and I’ll be scrambling like a crazy person trying to get all the work done.

BUT MEANWHILE…my poor blog just sits here, the lonely orphan.

There’s so much going on right now that I’ve got nothing here.

And it’s almost midnight.

And my alarm is going off in five and a half hours.

Eep.

Good night, dear ones…eventually, we’ll all have a good long laugh about All This, right…?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Money Monday: April 27, 2009

Last year, I faced some pretty bitter disappointments in the fresh food department. I waited in vain for the price of corn to drop from fifty cents an ear. I wanted red and golden bell peppers, but I didn’t want to pay four to five bucks a pound for them. I lusted after the big, juicy beefsteak tomatoes (because I have a recipe for roasted tomatoes stuffed with a b├ęchamel sauce and I can eat those until I fall over in a food-induced coma), but again…holy smokes, the prices!! (Not to mention the ‘eh’ flavor when I did actually cough up the dough for them.)

From leeks to watermelons, it seems that most of my favorite fresh-crop treats were just too expensive for my budget – and that was when we had a lot more money flowing through the old Den of Chaos!

So…this year…we replaced the finest crop of organic weeds in San Joaquin county (behind the broken spa that I refuse to fix because I have already spent $200+ having it repaired three times and Enough Is Enough Already)…

broken spa NOW WITH WEEDS!

…with a garden.

garden beds

We’re (hopefully) growing corn, sunflowers, pumpkins, cantaloupes, watermelons, zucchini, summer squash, leeks, candy onions, and carrots in those two beds. Obviously not a ton of any of those, although I admit to being tempted to simply cover all of it plus perhaps another acre or two with corn because I loves me the fresh corn.

What can I say? It has sweet, starchy goodness. And then you put butter on it, and possibly salt as well. Starch, sweet, butter, salt – it’s like, all the best foods in one convenient serving!

Anyway. Inside, I’ve got some cherry tomatoes in the Aerogarden, which is also serving to start my herb garden – the black things on either side of it are loaded up with lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley and oregano seeds.

Aerogarden nursemaid

The little pots there with greenery? Heh. OK, this is me being a little bit on the nutty side: I had bought two bell peppers at the dollar store, one red and one gold. They were awesome. So I pulled the seeds out of the compost bin, planted them, watered them, talked to them, played Canasta with them, and read them bedtime stories, and viola! Bell pepper plants! When they’re a bit sturdier, I’ll replant them outside – we have plenty of drip-system-accessible dirt still available in other parts of the yard.

This is actually a perfectly decent way to get started with your gardening endeavors. Save a few seeds from what you eat and plant them in small pots, then transplant whatever deigns to grow to your garden. If you’re already eating it from the supermarket, chances are good you’ll eat it from your garden as well (you laugh, but the first time I had a garden, I planted things I do not like and pretty much refuse to eat because, uh, well, it’s a garden, it’s supposed to have radishes…), and you’ve saved anywhere from $1.25 to $2.50 depending on the cost of a packet of seeds in your area.

Once the herbs are well-sprouted and ready to survive the tough outside world, some of them will go in this bed…which is currently keeping the beefsteak, early girl and yet-more-cherry tomatoes out of the way and watered while we continue work on the Den Farm:

Herb garden now with tomatoes

What doesn’t go in there will go in the weed patch planter in front of the house – currently a pathetic assemblage of half-dead plants because the front watering system has been OFF for weeks and does anybody listen to me, no, because I have been saying for some time now that the front lawn is looking awfully dead-ish and dry-ish and are you SURE the front sprinkler system is working, dear?.

You can imagine how hard it is to resist the snark when he suddenly announced yesterday that ohmygosh, the front system has been OFF, all this time, even though it was ON, because of {blah blah blah something about plumbing-stuff}.

The next thing to go in will be a small strawberry “tower” (it’s a prefab thing we bought many years ago and then found while cleaning out the garage recently…one of those ‘oh yeah, I remember this thing…huh…why didn’t we ever use this, again…?’ finds), and a couple of dwarf blueberry bushes, which may or may not actually produce berries this year…but, housing market being what it is, I expect we’ll be here long enough and can wait a year or two for our blueberries.

Obviously, this isn’t going to supply all our needs. While we do have a lot more space we could have dedicated to food-growing, and while I’ll admit that the idea of going all self-sufficient has a certain appeal (especially if I can set aside the knowledge that this is backbreaking work requiring a great deal of careful attention, focus and daily oh look, a squirrel!!!…darn, I appear to have spaced and all my plants have died because I got distracted…), we wanted to start small-ish and see how it goes.

So I went through the grocery list and picked out the things that I had balked at buying because I felt they cost too much – hence, things like potatoes, broccoli and celery didn’t make the list, while corn, watermelon and blueberry bushes did.

In some ways, it feels more symbolic than anything else. I suspect the first year of a Garden As Such always does, given the constant $15 here and $50 there spent on things like drip system tubing and fill dirt and soil conditioners.

It’s also great for bringing up insecurities. I now get to worry my socks off about whether or not I’m killing everything we planted. Oh sure, I’ve poured over the instructions and scoured the Internet and anxiously measured the quarter-inch of soil covering those BUT these need half an inch, a hill for this, a trench for that…but let’s face it: I’m going up against an army of plant-chomping bugs, a lovely assortment of funguses and mildews, a drought and my own inexperience.

There’s every chance I’m going to raise a bumper crop of nothin’ over here.

But the way I figure it, even if the “crops” don’t turn out the way I’d like this year, I’m still making an investment in hands-on education. If this year fails, I’ll find out why and go on from there.

Eventually, I’ll be good at this. Eventually, I’ll be able to reliably grow produce in my backyard. Shoot, eventually, I might even be good enough at it that I can actually provide for my family’s basic vegetative needs right in my own backyard.

For the advanced vegetative needs, well, there’s always cable television.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

At last, a Finished Something!

I was starting to wonder if I had a terminal case of never-finish-nothin-itis or something. I’ve got more projects on needles right now (and less, erm, determination to finish them) than what passes for Usual around here…which is sad and lame and also I may just have to open my own yarn store just so I can pretend all those #6 circular needles aren’t just for me.

But then somehow, mysteriously, after several weepy declarations that I was never, no, NEVER! going to finish the @*^&@ing border on this unspeakable shawl and why did I decide to do this and gah, if I have to start a THIRD skein for just this WEE BIT OF I-CORD {threat trails off because honestly I can’t think of anything suitable}…it was finished.

Finished Peace Shawl

The Peace Shawl, by Evelyn A. Clark.

Once again, Ms. Clark has put out a pattern I found pleasantly engaging – it didn’t make me cry (much), but it also kept me awake.

The only complaint I have is probably my fault entirely because I am not only using gray yarn, but gray alpaca yarn (KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud in Smoke Heather): The ‘PEACE’ banner lace doesn’t show up very well. See?

Peace?

If you look at it closely you can totally see it…but with the slight fuzziness of the yarn plus the gray color, eh. Next time I’d go with something like what she actually used, the dark blue Zephyr.

But I love the trees and dancing people around the bottom – they came out fantastic!

Tree Huggers

It took two skeins of the aforementioned Alpaca Cloud , and it took all but a wee tiny little button of the second skein.

In other finished items news…I have been a hand-dyeing crazy person this week. In addition to a whack of solids (green, lavender, orange, yellow [which I think I’m going to use as a base to try some microwave-enabled painting] [research, people – vital research], a pink that will knock you right over, a red that I thought would never rinse fully and a really light sky blue), I’ve been playing working very hard indeed with a paint brush (and other assorted toys tools).

Here’s some of it:

Orange Yellow Sprekled

Blue drops

Tropical Smoosh

Sprinkles

Moods of blue

Ahem. Yes. Etsy shop, coming right up. I already have too much yarn around the Den, and frankly if I don’t start selling some of this stuff my husband is going to start thinking that all this very hard work indeed is actually some kind of goofing off and playing with yarn.

*harrumph!* The very idea…a (allegedly) grown woman, playing with yarn

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Like a sign from above

In my mailbox yesterday: “Please fill a bag for a vet!” Your pick-up date is: April 28, 2009.

Which would be next week.

Which would be after the weekend.

Which would be one of those rarest of creatures, a weekend upon which there is nothing already planned.

MWA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

I feel a purge coming on…

Monday, April 20, 2009

Money Monday: April 20, 2009

We are having a small heat wave out here right now, which has brought Denizen attire into sharper focus. They are, each and every one of them, going to need new clothes pretty soon – the shirts that still fit them are mostly winter-ish, and they’ve all undergone growth spurts that have them up a pant size or two.

Now, I know I’m repeating myself a bit here, BUT…two words, people: Thrift Store.

There’s been a lot of press about thrift stores lately, and I have to be honest: I’m not impressed with the stories they’re telling.

One that particularly stuck with me showcased an admittedly adorable stick-thin little thang prancing around looking ever-so-spiffy. The delighted ‘recessionista’ announced that the whole look had only cost $85 at the thrift store!

Jeans not included.

Because those were “recycled” from her closet.

Oh, and so were the boots.

But the shirt and the pea-coat jacket? Total. Goodwill. Scores.

Um…woot?

That shirt and jacket almost cost them more than I generally spend in three months on clothes for all four of my kids – the vast majority of that buying being done at thrift stores.

There are lots of perfectly good things at the thrift store. Sometimes people think thrift store automatically means ‘threadbare’ or ‘scruffy,’ but it just isn’t so. Sure, if you walk through and just grab stuff at random you’ll probably end up with a few things that are more than a bit worn out, but you’ll also find new (still with tags attached, even) or nearly new things that somebody outgrew almost without wearing.

Especially with the kids clothes. I’ve had teachers ask me about some of the dresses the girls wear to school, because they seem “too nice” for playgrounds and art projects. And they are too nice for every-day wear, which is why some other parent let their daughter wear it one (1) time, and then put it into the back of the closet until she outgrew it, then donated it to Goodwill, where I swooped in on it for between $1.50 and $3.00.

At three bucks, eh, let the kid wear it to school. At fifty bucks? Not so much.

If you’ve never done the thrift store thing, let me share a couple tips with you.

The first thing is, bring a sense of adventure with you. The thrift store is probably not going to be neatly organized by size (and if it is, double check their prices against other thrifts in your area – frequently [but not always!] the very-organized stores are more expensive than their faster-moving counterparts), which is going to mean that you’re going to spend a lot of time flipping through the racks looking for what you need.

If you can look at it as a treasure hunt rather than a pain in the butt, you’ll be a much happier shopper.

Wearing comfortable shoes helps, too.

Grab a measuring tape and measure your family members; note it down and bring the notes and the measuring tape with you to the stores. Occasionally, items will have shrunk in the wash or been altered to fit their previous owners – just because the tag says “Size Seven” doesn’t mean it will actually fit your seven year old.

Most thrift stores have a very simple, two-letter return policy: “NO.” So it is up to you to make sure things fit, that the zippers work, the buttons are all present and accounted for, the hems haven’t fallen out and so forth and so on.

I try to avoid buying things I know need repairs. Let’s face it, I’m probably not going to get around to it, and if the Most Adorable Little Girl Sundress Ev-Ah™ sits in my mending basket for three years, it isn’t going to fit anybody in this house by the time I get around to replacing the missing buttons up the back.

That said, sometimes, you can get a discount on defective items – so if you’re cunning with needle and thread or a stain-removing wizard, you can point out the problems and see if you can get the item for even less. I’ve had better luck with that at the smaller, local stores than the big national chains.

Each thrift store will have its own personality, its own point of excellence. Our local Goodwill is the best place for daily-wear children’s things, with a vast selection of decent play clothes and really good prices. If I need something fancier, I generally find it at the hospice thrift store – which is a tad more expensive than Goodwill but has far better quality control and frequent ‘yellow tag 50% off’ days.

Their children’s section is sparse, partly because their stuff is higher quality – fewer missing buttons, stains and almost-worn-out knees.

And if I need something oddball-ish, like a new-to-me rake or a new rack for my toaster oven (don’t ask) or perhaps a hubcap for a 1956 VW…there’s a thrift store on the outskirts of town that has me covered. They’ve got precisely nada for clothes, but whenever I find myself thinking I need to go to Home Depot for a tool, checking them first will probably save some serious green.

It’s a fun place to poke around…which leads me to my final thrift store tip. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Thrift stores have a way of sucking you into buying things you’d never have bought otherwise, except that it was only a dollar or two. The prices can be so dizzyingly low that you find yourself saying things like, “So what if it doesn’t fit, it’s so cute!” or “I know just where I’ll put this adorable little angel statue!” or “I’ll take all three hundred of them!!”

You have to keep your wits about you, remember what you’re there for, and resist the temptation to lug home a whack of stuff you don’t need or even want.

The payoff, though, can be impressive. Their $85 for a single look really can provide all the Denizen clothing for an entire season, for all four growing, messy, knee-wearing-out and holy-mackerel-what-happened-here?! kids.

That’s money I can put somewhere else, which to me is worth doing even when the old cash flow isn’t painfully tight.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why, for two cent’s I’d…!!!!!

Have you ever had one of those days where you spent the entire day cleaning, then came to the end of the day and looked over a house that looks like it hasn’t seen the business end of a sponge or broom in something like three decades?

A house which, in fact, has distinct overtones of crazy hoarding cat lady and you really are living in the Fly Lady definition of CHAOS: Can’t Have Anybody Over Syndrome?

Have you ever then found yourself muttering dire things under your breath?

Like, that for two cents, you’d haul every last thing you own, even the things you actively use every single day of your life, out to the driveway and try your damnedest to sell it? Garage Sale of the Gods, One Day Only?

And that you wouldn’t give anybody else in the family a vote first? Including yourself? Just…put price tags on everything as if it didn’t belong to you and you didn’t care LA LA LA, and try to sell it.

Whatever didn’t sell, you got to keep. Whatever did, well, you’d simply do without for a while and see how you did. If you found your life was an unending misery without it, you’d consider the possibility of maybe replacing it.

Maybe.

Except that damn, the idea of having an emptier house surely does appeal right about now.

Sigh.

I have to admit, a lot of this problem stems from my pack-rat tendencies, which in turn stem from my tightwad habits. I’m one of those people who will hold onto bizarre things – rubber bands, frozen orange juice lids, every scrap of paper that ever comes into my possession – on the theory that I might have a Perfect Use™ for it, someday.

And won’t I just feel the perfect fool if I have to go spend good money on something I threw away six years ago?!

Oh, if only I hadn’t gotten rid of all those rubber bands, I might have been able to fix this broken carburetor for free, instead of having to spend $400 at the shop for a new one!

But let’s face it, there is only so much room for Stuff, and furthermore only so much room in my brain for remembering where Stuff is. Why do I have so much trouble finding things? Because! I can’t remember where they belong! Which means that I reinvent “where they belong” each time something wanders into my clutches. Rubber bands? Hmm…can’t remember, I think it was a drawer, right? I’ll just go ahead and put them in this drawer for now…

Fifteen drawers stuffed with rubber bands later, I have no room for paper or pencils or anything else.

And of course, trying to undo this wretched situation leads to another one, which is that everything you own is out on the floor while you try to sort through it. Which is overwhelming, so you give up and kick it under the bed or something for a while, just a little while, you understand, because gee whiz, don’t you deserve a little down time once in a damned while?!

Sigh.

Yeah. A random, no-questions-asked, no-holds-barred, no-sacred-cows garage sale starts to sound…kind of good. A clean break, a new start, a chance to just hit the Reset button on the whole mess.

Fortunately for the Denizens, I loathe garage sales. Our stuff is (probably) very safe indeed, because I simply won’t be able to make myself brave the garage sale crazy ever again.

Any more than I can make myself deal with the pile of homeless crap camped out on the other side of my bedroom door. It’s been mocking me for, what, four days now? But I have nowhere to PUT it!

So…there it sits. In the middle of my hallway. Laughing at me. We are nothing but useless crap, Tama! it snickers. And you are our slaaaaaaave, because you can’t bear to throw us oooooooout, even though we deserve nothing moooooooore…

Gah.

Double sigh.

Yeah. I know I won’t actually do it. But at this very moment, I have to admit the idea makes for a rather nice fantasy…

Sell everything, right down to the furniture.

Replace sparingly.

The bolt the door, put bars over the windows, and never ever allow another item to enter the Den.

Just imagine…being able to walk…through the house…in a straight line…without stumbling or tripping, without hearing unexpected CRACK! noises under your feet, without finding yourself herding the strays into piles that then mock you because there’s nothing you can really do about them because the drawers are all stuffed to straining as it is…

What a grand and glorious thing that would be, huh? Grand…and glorious…indeed…

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring break broke me

You know how you’ll make plans and at the time they seem like a good idea, but then the time comes for the plan to become reality and one or another part of the plan has changed a bit and suddenly you’re thinking to yourself this isn’t such a great idea but at the same time you’re kind of committed and backing out, while certainly an option because let’s face it nobody is going to put you on death row for backing out of a social obligation, would be…somewhat socially complicated?

Color me there.

Actually, color me just-returned-from-there, because I have just returned from three four days and two three nights of fun-filled Spring Break Trip to Disneyland.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It was fun. Two promised birthday trips, accomplished. Annual passes have now officially more than paid for themselves and, well, there you go.

But at the same time, I am wrung.out.. It was just me and the two older Denizens, which on the one hand is easier because they don’t have to be carried or pushed around in a stroller, but on the other hand ohmygawd, can they ever run!

It was funny having that particular combination, too. Danger Mouse is a bonafide thrill junky. She’s tiny (we’re pretty sure she’s part pixie), and has thus been shut out of most of the “big” rollercoasters due to never being able to achieve 48” in height.

Well, not anymore, folks!

That’s right! As of this weekend, she officially measured up to the 48” requirement and gleefully hit the rails of California Screamin’ – her very first upside-down experience on a rollercoaster!

She’s still not sure if she was more thrilled, or terrified.

Eldest, meanwhile, loathes rollercoasters and anything that smacks of them. She also hates getting wet.

Guess what happened on Pirates of the Caribbean? Which (as she has reminded me at least 6,275 times thus far) I forced her to get on with the assurances that while sure, you can get a little water on you but it’s hardly one of those wild wet water rides?

Ahem. Yes. Well. We got on, sat down, and discovered that at some point someone had managed to get a good fifty gallons of water over the side. The seats were not merely damp, they were awash. As was the entire floor – a good two inches worth.

Her rump and shoes were soaked.

She actually glared holes in me.

But I digress. So here I am, at Disneyland, with the Thrill Pixie and the No Thanks I’ll Just Stand Here And Sigh Dramatically Every Eight Seconds Pre-Teen. They are both so hyper they’re practically vibrating. And the lines, oh the lines…they were long. Really long. Even for rides that are historically walk-on deals, the lines would be snaking back and forth and hither and yon.

I sincerely questioned my own sanity more than once.

The girls had some birthday money to spend – I put it onto gift cards and handed them over. True to form, Eldest still had most of her money when we hit the World of Disney store for our last-second shopping spree; Danger Mouse had spent all but eight cents of hers on…uh…stuff and was in tears because she really really really really really really really wanted this Pluto thing…

Sometimes, life lessons are hard. I wanted to give in to the tears soooooooo bad. I wanted to just fork over the money and buy her the stupid doll because she was crying and it was her (early) birthday trip, and how much does that suck, to be crying on your (early) birthday trip to Disneyland over a crummy $15 doll.

But…sigh. She isn’t going to learn this stuff any younger. I’d warned her – repeatedly – that this was all the money she was going to get. Don’t go buying everything you see, I said. Wait until you’ve seen everything, I counseled. If you buy that and then see something else you want more, well, you’ll be out of luck, I advised.

Obviously, those seeds of wisdom fell on the rocks and sprouted not.

And now, she is learning about slave labor because she signed a legal document with her sister that basically says she will perform all her big sister’s housework for the next month in exchange for $15 now.

Reminds me of my own childhood. I spent my allowance so fast the coins hitting the counter practically sparked fires at the supermarket; my brother would keep his in a sock…and wait…because sure as sunrise, I’d be in there to borrow a quarter for a candy bar.

A quarter today, thirty cents to repay on allowance day. He was such a smart little devil, he’d even limit me to three quarters, because I only got paid a buck a week and that meant I was only good for $0.90 come Saturday morning.

But hey – again, she’s not going to learn these lessons any younger. With any luck, she’ll learn them younger than I did, anyway; and that these deals are just as bad when it’s a credit card company as it is when your big sister is grinning evilly at you over the notepad.

So we ran around standing in lines and arguing over whether or not churros could be considered “dinner” and watching parades and fireworks and then we finally started for home and ended up having to tack an extra day onto the whole thing because it all caught up with me halfway up I-5 and I had to pull off for a few hours (OK, more than a few) sleep or risk the inevitable result of sleep-driving.

We had a good time…oh, what a lie I’m about to tell there!

The girls had a good time. The girls, in fact, had an awesome time.

I, on the other hand, spent most of the time talking myself off ledges. Worrying about what-all I wasn’t doing right now. Trying to remind myself that, with the kids all home anyway, my ability to do anything would be limited at best.

Still, no matter how hard I tried not to think about All That, well, I just can’t. I can’t forget for more than a few moments at a time that everything I’m not doing is going to be right there waiting for me when I get back with interest.

At the risk of exposing my somewhat less than delicate side, I’m constantly aware that just because I’m not shoveling, the Chaos Steed hasn’t stopped crapping.

Sure enough, I’ve got a situation here I’m sure would make Hercules say, “Pass!”

And honestly, I’m not sure redirecting a river through the Den wouldn’t be the best way to deal with it all.

Spring break is over in two more days. In two more days, the Denizens return to school, heading for the finish line of the year.

But I’m afraid it will be too late for me. Spring break has broken me, I swear it has. How else can I explain having to pull over before midnight to get a room because I couldn’t keep on truckin’ through the night – even with the iTunes blaring uncomfortably ancient tunes (much to the horror of the children, whenever they surfaced from their DVD-watching)? How else can you explain my irritation at the messes around here, or my fixation on having things Neat and Orderly, not to mention my concern that nobody has seen a dentist in entirely too long?

…the first person who makes a crack about the Middle Ages is so gonna get it…

Monday, April 13, 2009

Money Monday: April 13, 2009

This weekend, there was an article in a local paper on a familiar topic: What to tell the kids when you find yourself laid off.

The usual advice was being dispensed: Don’t lie, but don’t dramatize either. A few tips for how to put it in terms the kids can understand, then group hugs and on we go.

I’ve been seeing more and more such articles as this thing deepens and, well, continues continuing on a continual basis – and hearing more and more conversations around the watering holes about how to break things to the kids. How to tell them there’s not going to be a summer vacation this year, how to tell them we might be moving back to Grandma’s house in Texas, how to tell them that life as we knew it is officially over.

Curiously, I’m noticing a lot of my fellow parents around here are actually falling into one of those two extreme camps: They’re either lying outright (There’s no recession, everything’s fine, daddy just wants to take a break, ha ha ha, hey! Let’s go to the mall, kids!) or dramatizing big time (we’re all gonna diiiiiiiiiie, this thing is bigger than the Great Depression, we’re going to starve, we’re going to freeze, it’s The End, WAAAAAAAH!)

And something I never seem to see in the articles is the suggestion that your children can become something more than helpless, frightened little dependents – that they can, in fact, be your partners as we get through this (ahem) economic downturn…and subsequent adjustment to a less credit-centered lifestyle.

The articles and advice are always around explaining things to your kids, so they understand why their parents are perhaps freaking out, and to explain to them why they aren’t enjoying the same never-ending shower of goods and services they once did.

What they never seem to do is take that next step, where you invite the kids to be a part of the fight.

If you think about it, when we sit them down to tell them about these difficult things we basically tell them, “Yeah, see, there’s a monster under our bed.”

And then we say, “But don’t worry about it. We’ll handle it.”

Uhhhhhhhhh…okay

We then tell them what we’re going to do. There will be fewer presents, there won’t be the summer vacation this year, we’re going to have to cut back and make sacrifices and blah blah blah.

A lot of parental gum-flapping…and meanwhile, our little dependents just sit there helplessly along for the ride.

I submit that there is a further step we should consider taking, and it is handing our kids a weapon and saying, “OK! So! We’re at war with this monster here – any suggestions?”

Bring them into the conversation. Ask them what they think we should do. Don’t just tell them we’re canceling this and ending that, put the numbers in front of them and ask them what they think we should do.

This is a tricky business, I’ll grant you. The balance between your opinion is respected and but I am the mommy and sometimes Because I Said So is going to totally trump YOUR vote can be a delicate one.

Furthermore, a lot of what they’re going to come up with is going to be, well duh, childish. They’re children, and for many of them the value of a dollar is shaky at best. Our Den Dollars system has given our kids a better-than-average understanding of just how much those Nintendo games and such really cost, but they’re still just kids.

They’re going to enthusiastically suggest lemonade stands, and yard sales, and clothing choices for daddy’s interview next week.

For frustrated parents who know a yard sale is going to bring, what, $300…and the mortgage is, what, $3000?, the temptation will be strong to say, “How cute! Not nearly enough, but cute!”

But I tell you what: You go ahead and have the yard sale, and keep on showing them the numbers. Let them see that not only does every little bit help, but they are helping.

Flip it on its head, too. Keep track of the things they ask for but then accept not in the budget right now without undue tears and lamentations. Show them how their maturity is helping. Praise them. Let them know that their help is important to you.

Kids need to know where they fit into things. They need to feel they are important, and in some ways this rough patch of road is giving those of us who are parents a marvelous opportunity to undo something I personally feel is just plain wrong: A childhood spent drifting from one momentary pleasure to the next, with your entire sense of importance being provided not through being part of the family pack, but by counting up how many toys your folks bought you this week.

The feeling of being needed by your family is a powerful thing. I was never prouder than in those moments when my dad would say something like, “Hey, good job – you saved me an entire afternoon’s work out here!”

Made every second of swinging that hoe worth doing.

My Denizens know what’s going down around here. They understand that our “vacations” are going to be limited to the occasional weekend here and there, that we won’t be doing anything “big,” that birthdays are going to be limited to one present and that a lot of things simply aren’t going to be happening at all.

Like us, they’re not particularly happy about it…but they understand, and they’re willing to pick up their own hoes and work with us toward better times…for no more reward really than the pride and gratitude of their parents.

And I tell you what, it’s a lot easier on us having to dispense pride and gratitude, rather than constant ‘not in the budget’ and other platitudes.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I need a keeper

So, I just took out the laundry room trash, right? (This is where we change the Pull-Ups…I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest of the details on that.)

Pulled the bag full of lovely treasures out of the can.

Took the bag out to the tote.

Came back inside.

Reached for a fresh trash bag. Felt around on the empty shelf space for a moment. Drat! That’s right. We were out, and I just got a new box.

Took half an hour to find the new box because my organization methods have become a tad sloppy lately. (Thank DOG we’re not having anybody over here for Easter this year.)

Tore off the top of the box.

Threw it into the trash can.

Grabbed the trash bag.

Realized that I have neglected to observe the correct order of events, here.

Plucked the box top out of the trash.

…along with…something else…that had oozed into the bottom of the can at some point…

Quick! Rush to the bathroom, pour boiling water and bleach over hands! (OK, it was just soap and hot water.) (But I did actually think about using bleach cleanser on them because ew.)

On the way back to the trash can, I noticed the box top lying on the floor under a pile of grossed-out squeals…along with a few Kleenex that missed and a banana peel someone likewise didn’t quite get all the way into the can.

Picked it all up.

Threw it into the trash can, with obligatory am I the only person in this house who knows what a trash can is for? grumbling.

Picked up the trash bag.

Looked at the not-empty trash can, and then at the trash bag, and then back at the can.

Pondered things for a long moment.

Decided I’m not qualified for this trash-bag-replacement gig and called a maid service to do it for me, along with a few other little things.

Like all the housework.

The end.

By which I mean, then I woke up.

Because hahahahaha, maid service. So not in the budget right now.

Tried to be Clever and put the bag over the top of the can and shake the trash into the bag, which I could then put into the can.

Except that I didn’t quite get it over the whole mouth of the can.

Whoops.

Picked up the trash again, muttering …it WOULD all fall over the 5% of the can that WASN’T covered by the bag…

THREW IT BACK INTO THE CAN AGAIN.

Grabbed the trash bag.

Looked at the can.

It openly mocked me.

I sobbed.

Got less clever with the whole ‘pouring the trash into the bag’ thing and actually succeeded! YAY, ME!!! Who’s your daddy now, trash can?!

Put the bag into the can.

Sat down, exhausted, to tell everybody that I am inept, and need a keeper.

Thank you for listening.

And now, God help me, I need to wash some floors.

I’m sure it’s going to look like the Idiot Section of a wonder mop infomercial. Oh no, not again! (the announcer proclaims in a voice that is both sorrowful and yet hints at better things to come) That old mop just doesn’t work! {images of some moron being so inept with the kind of mop the rest of humanity figured out how to use effectively approximately six thousand years ago that you throw popcorn at the screen while shrieking, “Oh. Come. ON! Nobody is THAT inept with a mop, for carp’s sake!! You’d hafta be some kind of IDIOT to try using a mop that way!!”}

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I suppose this is my Friday

The Denizens start their spring break tomorrow…which essentially means I will be starting my (so called) break tomorrow as well. Posting may get spotty. Spotty-er.

This is the downside to our current childcare arrangements: When school is out, well, one of us is taking time off. The after school program only runs when school is in session, and for Captain Adventure we have diddly squat other than his preschool program – which has him gone too long and it makes his momma fret sometimes because LONG DAY MUCH, little guy?! from around 7:30 in the morning until around 4:00-ish in the afternoon – the bus ride to the next town over takes forever due to the many pickups / dropoffs along the way.

Fortunately, he looooooooves the bus.

With things being the way they are right now (read as: Tama is so extremely under-employed it is vaguely ridiculous), the downside way doesn’t outweigh the upside, which is that instead of paying $500 weekly for full-time school-or-no-school daycare, we pay $500 monthly for the after school program for the girls.

I tell you what, when times were flush I might have been willing to pay that simply so I didn’t have to deal with the multiple pickup times. THIS kid out at 2:20, THIS one at 2:55, and #3 at 3:15. GAH!

Eh, not really. C’mon. A person who finds herself pressed for time who still can’t make herself pay $4 for a loaf of bread because seriously, I could totally make TWO loaves for a buck! is hardly going to decide that she’d rather pay $500 than have to cool her heels around the school for an hour and a half each day.

But I digress.

It’s funny, really, how you both look forward to and dread these breaks. On the one hand, it’s nice to have family time with the kids.

On the other hand, argh!, those kids! The noise! The messes! The constant demands for snacks and drinks! “I know you just made a three course meal half an hour ago, but I didn’t want that and now I’m hungry again!”

The way you can’t do anything without the risk of somebody bursting in five seconds after you start to announce that a toilet is overflowing, someone is bleeding, or the cat is trapped behind the sofa.

It can be hard for me to go without a plan for my time. Even if I don’t actually do everything on my list, I like to have one – a general outline of how I expect the day to go.

But when all the kids are home, well. “Plan” is another word for “frustration,” because whatever plan I have is guaranteed to not work out the way I expect.

In related news, there are ten skeins of freshly washed wool hanging up to dry in my bathroom. The plan, you see, is that over the next couple days they will be transformed from their current raw state into a colorful hand-dyed ready to knit with one.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Yeah, that’s right. I’m planning to finish this process not today (which is rather taken up with other things, like arm-wrestling with King Kong the IRS and trying to find the damned floor, which I’m pretty sure is somewhere under all these clothes, toys, shopping bags, crock pots and other detritus which has mysteriously appeared all over the Den), but over the next few Denizen-laden days.

We shall see.

I’m considering it a good trial run for the summer, because this summer? I’m not paying no $500 a week for summer camp / daycare. The girls didn’t enjoy it anyway, and honestly I’m not expecting this summer to be any better than last summer for me, job-wise.

The recession, it still has us in its teeth…and it isn’t showing a lot of signs of letting go any time soon.

And with that, my dear ones…I leave you. Possibly for an entire week.

Or possibly not.

It all depends on what my demons Denizens hit me with over their spring break…

For those who live around a Meijer

I got a note from Ecostore USA that the founder of the outfit is going to be hanging out at some Meijer stores to talk about their products and hand out free t-shirts to the first twenty-five folks with inquiring minds, and they say there will be ‘entertainment for the kids.’

Cool beans…specifically, he will be here:

4/13 Chicago - McHenry (5-7 PM)
4/18 Detroit - Wixom (5-7 PM)
4/20 Fort Wayne - Illinois Road (5-7 PM)
4/21 Indianapolis - Carmel (5-7 PM)
4/22 Cincinnati - Harrison Road (4-6 PM)
4/23 Grand Rapids - Cascade (2-4 PM)
California – eh, sorry, not on the list (DARN!)

If you haven’t tried their stuff yet…I can personally vouch for their Laundry Liquid and their Pure Oxygen Whitener (think OxyClean).

It might come as a complete surprise that a place called “Ecostore” is all about the ecological responsibility thing. I know! You’d think they come up with something that implied that for a name! But oh well, it is what it is. ANYWAY. Their slogan is “No Nasty Chemicals,” and their products are designed to be easy on your skin and the planet.

Which, of course, means that we all go, “Uhhhhhhhh-huh. Great. Yeah. But, can it get grass stains out of The Boy’s jeans?”

I have to say it has worked just fine on the grass stains and all but the really nasty stains that honestly – I suspect bleach couldn’t budge. Not that I’d use bleach on Captain Adventure’s jeans anyway because duh, that would solve the problem exactly like cutting off your nose will solve a pimple problem.

The second thing most of us will say is, “Fine, but eleven bucks [plus shipping] for slightly less than 34 ounces of detergent? Please. I only pay eight bucks (seven with coupon!) for my super-concentrated All Small & Mighty!”

Hokay…but honestly, this stuff has also passed the economy test. That one $11 bottle is at this point slightly over half used, and has done not only four weeks of my usual ten-to-fourteen super-sized loads of laundry, but has also handled a fair number of off-label trials involving skeins of rotgut yarn and mesh bags. The laundry liquid is really concentrated. I’ve been using roughly two-to-three tablespoons for one of my Super Extra Large Ginormous Front Loader of Doom loads of clothes. A bit less than the label recommends, but then all hard-core cheapskates know about that.

If you don’t know about that – however much detergent you’re using in your dishwasher or washing machine? It’s probably way more than you actually need to use. Invest in a little experimentation to find the point of Just Right - start at a fourth the recommended amount and, if it doesn’t seem to be getting the job done, edge it up until you find the sweet spot. For me, it seems to be about half whatever the label recommends.

But I digress. What I really like about this stuff is the scent: It’s a clear, sharp eucalyptus, brought to you courtesy of pure eucalyptus oil. I haven’t found that the scent lasts all the way through to the dryer (drat!) or my closet (double drat!) (that place could use some freshening up, believe me), but I really like the way that sharp oh my gosh, it just smells so CLEAN in here scent fills the house on laundry day.

The oxygen whitener is just like OxyClean, only without the hype (thank you, Ecostore, for not hiring good old Billy to hawk this stuff for you). I mostly use it with the lights and whites, and to soak the “ruined” clothes before I wash them. It works well on things like food and grass stains, and doesn’t harm the colors as long as you “use as directed.” (Huh? What? Why are you all looking at me like that? I always follow the label instructions…)

Speaking of always following the label instructions, I didn’t do that and also used that regular laundry liquid on my hand-wash clothes and skeins of rotgut yarn. That stuff that I was complaining about a while back, that is way on the rough-n-scratchy side? I’d been washing it in Woolite and vinegar, and then I thought I’d give this stuff a try with it. I’d put about twelve skeins into mesh bags, add about two tablespoons of the laundry liquid and a quarter cup of vinegar in the softener dispenser.

Worked a treat. It came out softer than with the Woolite and vinegar, and for bonus points it smelled a lot less “sheepy.” (This stuff kind of reeks, when it’s right off the cone. I say this as a person who can call picking [ahem] vegetable matter out of a raw fleece “an afternoon pleasantly spent” – this stuff, it hath A Certain Pungency.) (If it didn’t take dye so well, I’d deep six it. But man, does it ever color up purty. Sigh.)

They do have a wool wash, but, well, I didn’t get that. And furthermore, it doesn’t have the eucalyptus oil in it, and it is my firm, emotionally biased, and completely unscientific belief that it is the eucalyptus oil that is helping with the de-stinking and softening process here.

So there you are. A news brief about free t-shirts and kid entertainment, turned into a two page soliloquy about laundry detergent. C’mon! Where else are you going to find that level of entertainment, folks?!

And oh my gawd, would you believe I knew how to spell ‘soliloquy’? I am amazed. I had to look up eucalyptus twice, but soliloquy just flowed right on out.

My brain, she is a strange place.

And now, I must return to the laundry…which multiplies in the dark corners of the Den, growing like the national debt and with just as much likelihood of ever being actually dealt with

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Grant us peace

I started the Peace Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark a couple weeks ago.

Yes. I’ve been holding out on you. Sue me, the battery was nearly dead in the camera and I couldn’t find the charger…which, it turns out, has been in my top desk drawer this whole time.

Right next to the fully-charged spare battery.

Ahem. Let’s, uh, let’s move on, shall we?

Peace shawl
Lace…gotta love it’s larval period, where it’s just a blob of indistinct squirming ‘uh, are you SURE this is going to be a shawl someday?’

What’s funny about this is, I cast this “PEACE!” deal on two weeks ago in a fit of absolute pique.

The Armagh sweater? Yeah. Ran out of black yarn. @*^&@.

Finishing the Lillehammer? Sewing machine is on the fritz again. (Yes, I know you can hand-sew the steeks…I’m a tool user, people…)

Homework crises. People sick. Missing children. CT scans. (Oh, by the way – Himself is [mostly] fine. Turns out he has diverticulitis, which seems to be responding nicely to treatment) (yummy fiber and antibiotics!). Lingering tax malaise.

So forth and so on. I was just all agitated and generally pissed off and worried and freaking the @*^&@ out, and I said to myself, said I, “Self! How about a nice peace shawl?”

And here we are.

And it is helpful. I’m still so agitated about Everything, but when I pick up that shawl I can’t help it.

It’s a PEACE shawl. Just look at the title! Hello! Are you planning to knit this thing furiously while freaking the @*^&@ out? I don’t think so!

And then I’ll make myself relax, and take a few breaths, and think peaceful let it be thoughts. It doesn’t make all the negative crap vanish (unfortunately), but it gives me a little break from it, anyway.

And honestly, can I ask for more?

Especially when my Yarn Monster is pretending to be an angel…

Angel-devil
Not foolin’ anybody, Captain Adventure…you’re only 85% angel…the other 15%...well……….

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Monstrous

This morning, my city is in mourning…because last night, they found the body of eight year old Sandra Cantu.

For ten days, we’ve been hoping and praying she would be found alive. For ten days, we’ve wondered where she was, what could possibly have happened. We’ve speculated and worried and anxiously scanned every small face we passed. We’ve held our own children a little closer, and frankly I’ve noticed a lot fewer kids playing in the front yards of the houses lately.

Because in spite of our wildest hope that somehow this would all turn out to be some kind of misunderstanding…we knew a monster was among us. The same monster that is always there, the monster we protect against with our stern lectures against talking to strangers and going into other people’s houses and how about you just never leave my sight, EVER.

I suppose it is a common thing to say, “This shouldn’t happen here.” Because after all, nobody wants to think they live someplace where it does…and we who have built a nice little illusion of affluence especially don’t like to believe that such things could happen, you know, here.

…it would be counter to the homeowner’s association rules, darling…

No, not here. It happens elsewhere. In dangerous places, gritty dark cities where the sound of sirens and gunshots fill the air. In places where parks are not for children but for drug deals and prostitution, that’s where there be monsters.

Not here, in our little city…where the police blotter is largely full of melodramatic domestic tiffs and drunk neighbors peeing on each other’s petunias.

Not here, where children play in the front yards and wander freely up and down their neighborhood, wandering from house to house in a massive game of tag, following their noses unerringly to the houses where cookies are being baked.

Not here, in a city that somehow has managed to remain a town at heart.

That town’s heart is breaking today. It is embracing her family with shared grief and anguish, the terrible knowledge that we failed this child of our village…that somehow, we didn’t see the monster that walked among us.

It has taken away a part of our hope, our future. It has taken a beautiful child from us, and all the good things her life might have become.

We mourn, and we wait for what we hope is inevitable: The unveiling of this monster. Bring it into the light, let us see it for what it is.

Let it be taken away, and never let it return to stalk another of our children.

It may be cold comfort, but I suppose it is the best we can hope for right now.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Money Monday: April 6, 2009

This weekend, I spent the entire weekend in the kitchen. My feet, they are killin’ me…but I’ve got two weeks of meals in the freezer, and another two weeks in “assembly ready” condition.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting meals on the table lately. Seems like every day, dinner time comes way before I’m ready for it. I’ve just finished working, gotten the kids, we’re just starting the nightly homework negotiations and suddenly it’s already that point where I should have put something in the oven an hour ago, so now we’re way off track and trying to decide if we should make a quick sandwich for everybody and then pop a kid or two into a bathtub, or put them in the tub now and just have dinner late.

This is, of course, the big downside of the ‘cooking from scratch’ thing. Sure, it’s a lot less expensive than eating out, and you can get over a pound of garlic heads for less than a four ounce jar of pre-diced stuff, but then instead of dipping out a teaspoon of pre-diced garlic and dropping it in the pan you have the ‘peel and dice’ step thrown into your mix.

Dice one onion, three cloves garlic, two bell peppers, three tomatoes and I’m sorry, were we planning on eating this tonight?!

Bonus points if your destructions say to seed the tomatoes. GAH! No one step is all that hard or time-consuming, sure, but by the time you’ve stacked up three or four or ten of them…GAH!!!!!!!

And if you want to really go for the gold, you can be one of those people who finds herself physically incapable of buying a can of pre-cooked beans. Because! A one-pound can of cooked pinto beans runs about $1.59 out here…a one pound sack of dry beans is $0.99, and will produce roughly three pounds of cooked beans.

So obviously, I’m always buying my beans dry…and then forgetting to soak them overnight, and of course do we even need to mention how seldom I’ll then remember to simmer them gently for an hour or three to actually cook them? (The secret, by the way, is to soak them in the crock pot overnight, then turn it on ‘low’ when you’re making your coffee in the morning.) (Also, putting the crock pot in front of the coffee maker can also be a tremendous boon for that whole ‘remembering to do it’ thing.) (See, I know this, I just never remember it in a timely fashion…I remember it at 5:15 on chili night, that’s when I remember it…)

The best thing about this kind of sort-of-once-a-month-cooking routine is that it helps control the grocery budget. Instead of shopping weekly or biweekly, I’m making one huge list and making one massive shopping trip…and then the rest of the month is fill-in. Some milk, replenish the fruit bowl, and we’re done.

I got a cheat in on this week, because I made the menu mostly around what I already had in the freezer – the only meat item I bought was a ham, which I decided to throw in there because frankly we’re all getting a bit weary of chicken and beef. Same old technique at work, use what you’ve already got before you buy new stuff.

The total cost at the supermarket was $151.79, which gave me a month’s worth of lunches and dinners. Not too bad, huh?

Instead of doing a full “once a month freezer cooking” ordeal, though, I focused mostly on getting things recipe ready. I browned up a ton of ground beef and onions – ready to become everything from chili to creamy beef casserole. I’ve got a ham in the crock pot today (orange marmalade and Dijon mustard glaze – so simple it’s ridiculous, but it adds a lot of good flavor), which will be dinner tonight, split pea soup another night (oh yeah…soak the peas…), ham sandwiches, a ham and potato casserole, innumerable ham and Swiss sandwiches and Denver omelets.

There’s also a few cups of cooked chopped chicken ready to go – chicken casseroles, some Mexican-doctored chicken (salsa Verde and Monterey Jack cheese, another easy dressing that tastes like you worked a lot harder than you actually did), chicken noodle casserole (like tuna casserole, only chicken).

Also, the onions, bell peppers, garlic, etc. etc. etc. are all pre-diced/sliced/minced/etc. and ready to go – neatly stacked in little screw-on lidded Rubbermaid in the kitchen. They’ll keep for one to two weeks that way, and I am able to reap the financial and health benefits of cooking from scratch without making myself a crazy person at 6:15 on a school night.

Then there are a bunch of meals in the freezer, for when the fresh ingredients are gone and/or I hit one of those nights when I just cannot find the love for dinner-making within me. From calzones to chicken pot pies, chicken burritos with salsa-cream sauce to ready-to-go taco filling, there’s a solid two weeks worth of dinner in the freezer – dinner can be just a heat-n-serve away, if the spirit is just not moving me to assemble something.

Or if I find myself working on a client site until 5:45 on a Tuesday and then facing the one-to-two hour drive home…

Also, I got sidetracked decided to make some pies. I needed to make an apple pie for a friend, and then I decided I wanted a lemon meringue because, well, I like lemon meringue and besides, what else am I supposed to do with the lemons off my lemon tree?

And then I realized that really, I’m the only person who likes it SO I might as well make a banana cream just to round things out. And then I almost stood over the pan and ate all the cream filling because it was good. Ahem. Excuse me, I need to go do a few more Penance Crunches {ugh, unggggh, ooof, gah!, [pwing!] AH! MY BACK!...} ok, that’s enough of that nonsense…

(And then I wonder why it takes all weekend to do a ‘one day’ cooking thing. Geesh.)

(Also, gee, why is it I ran the dishwasher about fifteen times this weekend? Hmmm…could it be cooking all day, PLUS pies, PLUS Denizens usual and customary decimation of clean crockery, PLUS one extra kid all weekend?!)

April is fixin’ to be a rough month. It’s a month with high expenses (taxes, more taxes, more taxes) and low billing thanks to Easter week. Knowing I’ve got food ready to go and the ability to skip the supermarket for the rest of the month feels awfully good when I’m facing one of those trying periods.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Oh Friday, you tease!

Ya know…we always say thank God it’s Friday, right?

Why are we so thankful for Friday? Because people? Friday is still a work day for most of us, JUST SAYIN’

Except that apparently some people actually don’t work on Friday. I imagine they spend the whole day wandering around the office saying, “Thank God it’s Friday, huh?!” to all their coworkers or something. What they do not do is respond to emails from me.

Which means that I spend most of the day just sitting around waiting for Monday, when they will actually be back at their desk again.

Furthermore, today is apparently Traffic Laws Are Optional Day, and as usual I did not get the freakin’ memo. I have never seen so many people ignoring stop signs, stop lights, yields and ‘no left turn’ signs complete with CVC code in red, so you KNOW it is official in one morning.

I’m afraid to go forth and run my too-many errands this afternoon. I have no idea what the actual laws are, today. I mean, generally speaking, a red light means stop and a green one means go, but apparently today a red light means go straight through the intersection and honk angrily at the stupid people who think ‘green’ means ‘go’, while a green one means stay where you are in case someone wants to use the RED light as their go-signal today.

It makes me pissy, not knowing about these Traffic Laws Are Optional Days. Think of all the time I could have saved, if I’d just known that I didn’t have to stop for red lights today!!

You know why else I’m pissy today? (No, Tama, please do bore us all to tears with the endless cataloging of why you are pissy today!) (OK, I will!) I am also pissy today because of something I like to call wee hours stupidity.

SEE, I woke up about whackity-majillion times last night because of my sinuses. Not only were they backed up, but they were creating one of those sinus headache situations and furthermore the sore-dry-throat syndrome because I was snoring away through my mouth due to my sinuses being a No Through Traffic zone.

The nasal spray that would have caused at least most of this to cease was, eh, fifteen feet from my bed.

I woke up a midnight and thought eeeehhhhhh…sinuses…owies…spray would be good…make pain stop…bathroom…right dere…cabinet, top shelf, all the way to the left… (see? I even knew precisely where it was! wouldn’t even need to turn on the @*^&@ing light!)

But I did not get up because it was the middle of the night and I didn’t wanna.

I didn’t wanna at 12:15, or 12:45, or 1:30, or 1:45, or 2:15, or…you get the idea.

This morning, as I nursed a pounding sinuses headache and the kind of all-over malaise one tends to have when one has spent the entire night fighting the notion of getting out of bed to squirt relief into one’s pounding sinuses, it occurred to me how foolish this really was.

Yea verily (I said unto mine self), if thou hadst gotten thy lazy carcass forth from thine bed at yon midnight, behold! (Said I, still unto mine self!)Thou wouldst not be a cranky-arsed fuss-pot right now!

And then me told I to shut the @*^&@ up because I was really pissing me off.

But isn’t it funny that something so bleedin’ obvious now was…fuzzy…at 2:00 a.m.? You’d think this is the kind of logic that would be insensitive to what time it was, that pain relief would seem like an excellent plan no matter how tired you were, or how warm the bed was, or how far fifteen feet seemed at that precise moment.

But no. At Wicked O’Clock, my bed was too warm, my bathroom too far away, I was too tired, and furthermore I was pretty sure this was going to be the last time I woke up tonight so why bother.

Which brings me to right now, when I still have a headache. Yea verily, it is Allergy Season, huzzah! The flowers are blooming, the trees are shedding, the grasses are drying…and my sinuses are exploding. Like fireworks! Only inside my brain!

HUZZAH!!!!!

I’m actually a little afraid to blow my nose, because I have the sneaking suspicion that if I do, my brains are going to come shooting out of there. Which I think would be bad. Although maybe I could grow a better one?...hmm…

Anyway. I have taken my once-daily allergy medication (which generally takes a few days to really start working).

I have taken my emergency-symptoms allergy medication (which generally takes a half hour or so to start working, but not today!) (and which also I arguably should not be layering over the top of the once-daily version but I. Am. Desperate.)

I have taken Excedrin. Which, obviously, is likewise not working.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Real World keeps turning, and I am expected to get Certain Deeds Done today.

But I do not wish to go into the Out, where there be pollens.

Which is why I’m sitting here boring you half to death with my endless rambling-whining, instead of getting out there and getting my stupid errands run so that I can come back inside and return to sniveling about how much I hate Allergy Season.

And to cap off the Reasons This Friday In Particular Sucks…I kicked the cat this morning.

Well, not kicked-kicked, not like, I was pissy and mad at the world so I hauled off and abused an innocent creature who has never done me any wrong unless you count that time her claws snagged in my brand-new-to-me silk blouse and put a huge run in it.

It was more like, I ran back to the house, threw open the door and started dashing in because we realized Captain Adventure didn’t have his backpack and the bus was waiting and the cat tried to dart out as I was dashing in and her shoulder met my foot and, well, I kicked her right back into the house.

We were both quite stunned.

You see what kind of day this is?

So again…remind me…why are we sooooooo thankful for Fridays?

Because personally…I can’t wait for Saturday, when I don’t have to get up at Ungodly Hour, risk kicking the cat over an almost-forgotten backpack, battle the I-stop-for-nothing-and-turn-left-when-I-damned-well-please-civic-ordinance-or-no-civic-ordinance-ha-ha! Philistines at the school drop-off, deal with servers that aren’t working properly and clients who are too busy thanking their deity that it’s Friday to reply to me about said servers and whether or not they are going to be functioning again any time soon, run errands or any other fool thing.

Friday is just a tease. Saturday is the true-blue day.

…thank God it’s almost Saturday