October 30, 2007

Symptoms and Treatments

Symptoms of Zoloft withdrawal (for me) (so far) (this is going from 50 mg/day down to 25 mg/day) (are we going to have a list of symptoms here any time soon?):
  • Headaches
  • Feeling like "What's the point?"
  • Thinking "Everything's a mess"
  • People keep asking what's wrong even when I don't feel like anything is
  • Longing for the medication; tempted to take larger dose (not stupid, not going to)
  • Tired
  • Crabby
  • Weary of everything that needs to be done
  • Eating eating eating, especially sugar
  • Hm, this is not so much different than usual
  • But it is, you'll just have to take my word for it

What I've been doing:
  • Going to Target, breathing in the Target smell, finding little fun clearance things to buy
  • Buying a million sale lip balms at my friend Lee's Avon site (she gave me a free shipping code; I'm not sure how long it's good for, but it's REPFS). I got another Slick Tint* Glossy Wine, because I LOVE that thing and use it every day now, and for 69 cents I think I can spring for a second one for my purse. I also got it in the other two colors it comes in. Plus I got candy cane lip balm and holiday-decorated lip balms for stocking stuffers. Plus some flavors like marshmallow and jellybean and butterscotch. (Have I mentioned how much I love lip balms?) And two lipsticks at $1.29 each, and two eyelining pencils, and a 59-cent nailpolish, and a new moisturizing face cream.
  • Drinking coffee with Peppermint Mocha creamer
  • Eating creamy chickeny recipes, especially with potatoes and sweet canned corn
  • And then having ice cream with fudge sauce afterward
  • Or warm chocolate-chip cookies
  • Or both
  • Reading People magazine and US Weekly magazine
  • Wearing perfume
  • Re-reading Jeeves books
  • Watching discs of My Name is Earl
  • Squeezing Henry, snuffling his neck, kissing him, dressing him in warm fleecy outfits so he's a cuddly snuggaroo
  • Lying down and letting the twins climb all over me
* "Slick Tint" is such a bad name. "Slick" makes me think of getting my hair stuck in lip gloss. "Tint" makes me think "level of color appropriate for 8-year-olds." Slick Tint is more dry than a lip balm, and in fact I have to put lip balm on over it. I like it because I put it on and it is just the amount of color I want: it makes me look fancy, but not too fancy to be wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And I don't have to blot it: it soaks into my lips so I don't feel all waxy-lipped and careful ("must...not...touch...lips..."). It's lip-balm-shaped and lip-balm-sized, which makes it easy to manage. And it's 69 cents (even at full price it's only 99 cents) so it doesn't trigger my hoarding impulses ("must save for special occasions!"). Hm, that is a little more than I would ever have imagined I could say about a tinted lip balm. To summarize: It's not glossy! or slick! and I like it! a lot!

October 29, 2007

GO RED SOX! YOU ROX! ALSO YOU ARE NOT ABOUT TO WIN ANY SPELLING BEES!

Hello. Did you know the Red Sox are so awesome, I ALMOST paid full-price for a Red Sox t-shirt this weekend? True story.

Here are some of the things said by my children this past week (I realize they are also Paul's children, but if I say "our children" when I'm talking to you, it sounds like I mean the children belonging to you and me--and, unless I am very much mistaken in my memory of the details, that's misleading) (I'm not saying I think you would actually go, "Wait--those are MY children too??") (anyway, now I'm going to type what the children said):
  • "The Red SOX play SOCCer, right?" (Me: "No, they play...") "Do they play BASKETBALL?" (Me: "No, they play baseball.") "No they don't! I remember that it's NOT baseball."
  • "Do they actually wear red socks?"
  • "Wait. I thought 'socks' was 's-o-c-k-s.'" (Me: "It...") "Is 's-o-x' ONE sock?" (Me: "It's...") "Do they wear ONE red sock?" (Me: *swigging wine*)
  • "Series of WHAT?"
  • "What are the other choices for Best Team?"
  • "So they beat EVERY TEAM IN THE WORLD?" (Me: "No, they...") "But it's the WORLD series." (Me: *headache*)
  • "Who's Matt Sooie?"
  • "The Red Sox think outside the SOX. The Rockies think outside the ROCKS. Get it? Get it? Think outside the ROCKS. Get it? Get it? Mommy, get it?" (Me: "No.")
I think that our family is gradually breeding out more and more athleticism as we keep selecting instead for computer ability and for cuteness in glasses. We are now not even good at WATCHING sports.

October 27, 2007

Open Communication

I'm getting so behind on blog-reading. So when I can, I read blogs while nursing. This means I can't comment much (typing one-handed makes Homer go crazy) (Simpsons reference, though it also makes Henry go crazy), but I'm hoping to play the "5 kids" card on that one--if that card isn't too worn out from me using it in the Housecleaning slot.

The computer is tucked away in a back room, so if the twins are up and I'm the only adult, I can't be in there. If Paul is home, I can. BUT: I've been noticing that if I'm nursing while at the computer, he starts getting really crabby in the other room. He does that thing where one parent clearly wants the other parent to hear how burdened he is and how frustrating it is to be doing it ALL BY HIMSELF. (River-crying in progress.)

It shouldn't make any difference to him: if I'm nursing in the living room, I'm just sitting there with a book, not doing stuff with kids. But it seems to me that it DOES make a difference--like he feels the way he'd feel if I were just on the computer when I was NOT nursing. NOT THAT THERE'D BE ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT, I might point out. But since I AM nursing, it seems to me that it doesn't matter what I'm doing at the same time: he's on his own with the other kids either way, so what does he care if I'm reading in the living room or reading at the computer?

So when we had a peaceful moment I said in a pleasant, calm voice, "It's been seeming to me that if I'm on the computer while nursing Henry, that makes you feel crabby." He SIGHED and said nothing. Tone of sigh: "You are bugging me about something stupid." I said, still pleasant and calm, "Is that the way it is?" He said NOTHING, and left to go to the library.

Um, HELLO. Everyone (magazine articles! TV shows! movies! books! psychologists! counselors!) is ALWAYS saying that the key to a successful relationship is to have open communication. And men are always trying to pull that "I'm not a mind reader--you have to tell me what you want" line (as if it takes SUPERNATURAL POWERS to see that the teetering trashcan needs to be emptied). So I try to tell Paul when something is amiss.

But I get NO REPLY. Or else he gets mad. Those are the two choices: he ignores me (literally doesn't respond, and either leaves the house, leaves the room, or goes to sleep) or he gets angry. We're both confrontation-avoiders, so usually we work out our problems with minimal discussion, and that works for both of us. But I don't like feeling crabby waves coming toward me when I'm not doing anything wrong.

So what am I supposed to do? That's rhetorical, since I guess there are two answers: (1) Say to him, "I've noticed that when I bring up a problem, you either ignore me or get angry," and then he'll either ignore me or get angry, or (2) Go back in time and marry someone else.

October 24, 2007

Target Therapy

Today I was sad first thing in the morning, so I had coffee, turned on extra lights, stripped Henry down to a diaper to nurse him (skin contact helps), ate a muffin, put on lipstick--and then went to Target, my lovely, lovely Target. This is the kind of therapy that can backfire if children are whiny and demanding, but it went fine today. Elizabeth did keep saying, "Noooo! Noooooo! Noooo! Noooooooo! Nooooo!" for no apparent reason, but I just kept stuffing snacks in her whine-hole while I browsed. Photos of my haul:

Wrapping paper, 75% off: 87 cents - $1.24 per roll. I was especially glad to find the birthday paper, since William is going to a birthday party soon. Also, I like girly paper better than boyish paper, so I end up with 50 rolls of pink stuff and nothing to use for the boys' birthdays. I think if I wrap Paul's presents in floral paper even ONE MORE TIME, he is going to retaliate by wrapping mine in SpongeBob SquarePants paper.


Candy, 3 for $5.


Reusable drink boxes with flip-up straws. I think these will fit in the boys' lunch boxes a whole lot better than the bottles I've been using, and the flip-tops will please William's teacher, who recently mentioned that most first graders can't handle screw-off caps so please send pop-ups. 30% off: $1.18 each.

Edited to add: These bottles were AWFUL! One of my boys got to school to find a puddle in his backpack: the bottle was still closed but had leaked its entire contents. The other boy said his had not leaked--but when he unpacked his lunch things at the end of the day, the leftover water HAD leaked (bottle securely closed--I checked it myself). I threw them both out. It's not worth the trouble to return them (I don't have the paper label things anymore).


Candles for my dad's birthday cake. The candles spell out
"O V E R T H E H I L L"
This is COMEDY GOLD, BABY. 75% off: 48 cents.


Ooooo, QUTE! This lil' bottlekins has pancake powder in it. You add water and shake it up. Then you pour into a skillet. You get 6-8 pancakes. The bottle feels nice to hold in the hand. WANTED IT. 30% off: 72 cents.


Set of two pink gift boxes. 75% off: 98 cents.


Initial cards for friends. 75% off: 98 cents each set.


Socks for Elizabeth. 50% off: $3.14 for ten pairs.


Rose-scented lotion, talc, and body wash. They were in that aisle of specialty products where they keep lines such as Bert's Bees. There were two other scent choices, but the gardenia smelled like coconut to me, and the other one (lavender? jasmine? lily? can't remember) smelled like banana. The rose smelled YUM. 75% off: $1.68, $1.98, $1.96.

October 23, 2007

Ways to Feel Better

Today I'm going from 50mg of Zoloft down to 25mg; soon I'll be weaning off it entirely. I remember from the last time I went off it that I had headaches, listlessness, lots of sadness, lots of "what's the point of anything?" and "nothing is fun anymore" feelings. Since I knew to expect that, it wasn't TOO bad: I just kept reminding myself that this was the medication-reduction talking, not my actual brain. And before long, I felt fine again.

So! I am looking for ways to combat sadness. Here are some of the things that work for me:

1) Caffeine
2) Turning on lots of lights
3) Nice smells (scented candles, scented soaps, scented shampoo)
4) Funny books (Dave Barry, Colin McEnroe, Jeeves books by P.G. Wodehouse)
5) Treats, especially of the warm cookie sort
6) Exercise (sometimes: this can also backfire on me and make me more tired and also discouraged and weepy)
7) Hot food, especially creamy-chicken-casserole things
8) Shopping, especially at Target

More tips?

October 22, 2007

Cleaning: Hazardous to My Mental Health

I have been cleaning all this month (in preparation for the mother-in-law visit, and to keep things tidy while she was here) and I am so sick of it. With so many hours spent in mindless activity, I've had time to think about how sick of it I am. And I have come to a happy and convenient realization: it is not good for my emotional well-being to have a clean house.

Having a clean house turns me into a FRUITCAKE. I snap at everyone. I hate everyone in my family because all they are doing is MESSING UP MY CLEAN HOUSE. I get all weird about tiny little spots. Must! be! perfect! I feel frantic and overwhelmed all the time, like I'm trying to keep back the tide with my bare hands. There is so much to do! THERE IS A CRUMB ON THE COUNTER!!! The more I do, the more I see that also needs to be done: cleaning the sink makes me realize the cabinet fronts need work; cleaning the cabinet fronts makes me realize the floor needs mopping.

You'd think that if cleaning several hours a day makes me frantic at how much more needs to be done, I'd feel even MORE than way if I WEREN'T making progress. But no! That is the wonder of it all! There is no logic here! When I do less, I feel MORE in control of things! Trying to keep the house clean IS like trying to keep back the tide with my bare hands. But if I let things go, it's not like it keeps getting worse and worse until we're waist-deep in garbage: it descends to a certain level of disheveled, and it stops. And a Cheerio falls gently to the floor, and no one freaks out.

Confession

So. Um. I've had about nine Oatmeal Scotchies, so now I have the Scotchie Courage to tell you what I did about Zoloft.

What happened, if you remember, is that I started freaking out increasingly as the mother-in-law visit approached. My mind turned to the half-finished bottle of Zoloft in my underwear drawer, saved because I hoard things like that, and because when I was trying Zoloft it was a $40 copay and so I didn't want to toss it out lightly, and then the years went by.

I posted that the medication was probably expired (although the expiration on the prescription bottle has to be one year or less from the fill date; the actual expiration date can be much, much later), AND I was nursing a baby, AND taking it would be really stupid without doctor supervision.

And you commented, and nobody said, "You idiot, I can't believe you're even considering it," and some of you even said you'd know it was a bad decision but you'd take it anyway, and for all of this I was supremely grateful.

Backstory, since we're here anyway. That Zoloft prescription was from two mother-in-law visits ago; that is, not this one, and not the one before it, but the one before that. I didn't realize that I was freaking out because of her impending visit; I thought I was generically losing my mind. I went to the doctor because I felt like I was going to jitter right out of my skin. He put me on Zoloft and also made me see a psychologist AND a psychiatrist. My mother-in-law left and I felt SO much better and went off the Zoloft. I went off it gradually and afterward had half a bottle left over, which I didn't bother to throw out. End backstory.

That backstory was because I am postponing telling you that I DID take the expired Zoloft, WITHOUT consulting a doctor. I think that was a Bad Decision, even though it worked out well for me--and so I didn't want to confess it to you, and I also didn't want to advocate it to the internet at large, as if I thought it were a good idea when I think in fact it's a pretty crappy idea.

I did consult Dr. Google to make sure it was okay to take while breastfeeding, and I also greatly valued the emails I got from several of you telling me of your breastfeeding/Zoloft decisions. I was glad to know that I was not the only one who (1) felt conflicted about taking it while breastfeeding, and (2) chose to take it. I also checked to make sure it wasn't one of the few medications that becomes stronger or changes effect when expired (it isn't: it just slowly loses potency).

There were several reasons for my decision to take the Zoloft all vigilante-style:

1) I didn't know what to say to the receptionist, if I called the doctor. It seemed like a long story, and I seemed too far away from the birth of the baby, and I couldn't think of how to begin. I still can't. And I don't even know if I'm supposed to call the OB or my regular doctor.

2) Last time I went on Zoloft, the doctor said he only felt comfortable prescribing it if I ALSO saw a psychologist AND a psychiatrist. They didn't help me. The psychiatrist kept trying to put me on stronger, less-tested medications I wasn't comfortable with trying and saw no reason to try since the Zoloft was working fine. The psychologist kept trying to make me complete sentences such as "If someone doesn't like me, I think I must be ______" (hint: opposite of likable).

3) Since then, the practice has changed around, and my doctor is gone, replaced by a new doctor I've never met. So I can't even start with "Here's what we did last time; here's what I'd like to do this time."

4) I only wanted to go on the Zoloft for about a month. And I had about a month's supply already in the house. And it was way, way easier not to mess around with phone calls and appointments and babysitters and explaining things to the doctor and arguing against treatment options.

So. For eight days I took 25 mg/day, biting off half of one-half tablet (taste: slightly bitter, not too bad). Then I went to 50 mg/day. I'm going to stay on that for another day or two, until the aftershocks from the mother-in-law visit have faded. Then I'm going to go down to 25 mg. Then 25 mg every other day. Then every third day. Then off. I go off Zoloft VERY SLOWLY, because people have had trouble with suicidal thoughts while discontinuing it.

I am pretty sure it helped me cope with the mother-in-law visit. I still did freak out, but I think it was less. It is so difficult to say, because when I am on Zoloft I feel as if I am the same as I always am--but when I go off it, I feel different. I think it is possible that when I go off it, I will think, "WAIT! I want that back!" And in THAT case I will call the doctor and get a fresh prescription.

The New Dishes

Hey, you remember how I ordered new dishes, and they arrived and they were "Made in Columbia" instead of "Made in England" as advertised, so I sent them back and got a replacement set, and those were made in Columbia too, and so I sent those back, and Amazon.com said they wouldn't try again and so then there I was with no dishes, wondering if Amazon.com is selling counterfeit dishes or what? And basically I flipped the flip out? Remember that?

So a couple of weeks before my mother-in-law arrived, I went out looking for similar dishes. I liked the highly decorated kind I'd found before, with pictures on them. I thought that if I couldn't find anything like that, I would just re-order the Made in Columbia ones, since they were basically perfect except for not saying "England" on the backs, and the only reason they "had to" be made in England is that (1) they were advertised that way and (2) I think of English china as The Best, and I wanted these to be The Good Dishes and (3) my mother-in-law's visit was nearing, and that makes my brain twist into crazy knots of irrational.

I found dishes in a pattern by Johnson Bros. called Old Britain Castles. I got them at either TJ Maxx or Marshall's, I can't remember which. I like them even better than my first attempt at dishes: these are thinner so they seem dressier, and the colors are sharper. Plus, they say "England" on them. I'm still worried they're fakes (mugs instead of teacups--surely that's not right?--and they don't say "MADE IN England," just "England"), but I'm happy with them.

Here's a picture:
Except, as I said, I have mugs instead of teacups/saucers.

We used them all through the mother-in-law visit, and they were a success. I felt HAPPY with them, and happy to be using them, and pleased with the pattern and how the table looked when it was set, and fine with the idea of the children loving them and fighting over them after I died. Now I'd like to get some serving pieces, but they didn't have those at the discount store, so meh.

Next time I need to get Good GLASSES, too: I didn't think of that, so we were serving meals off pretty dishes accompanied by colorful plastic cups. Dressy!

Brace for Legion

I apologize in advance to all of you who, like me, have so many new posts to read you are clicking and skimming, clicking and skimming, trying desperately to get the number of unread posts down to zero so you can relax--and meanwhile new posts crop up every time the RSS reader refreshes. But my plan of the day is this:

1) Put out bottomless sippee cups and crunchie bowls for the twins and let them watch TV all day long.

2) Eat brownies and drink coffee with peppermint mocha creamer until I wish I'd never been born.

3) Blog. Repeatedly. I have missed you--nay, LONGED for you. And so you may need to click and skim. I don't know how many times I will post today. Does "legion" work for you as a rough estimate?

Goodbye!

Goodbye giant gallon-size container of cranberry juice hogging so much of the fridge!

Goodbye silent-but-palpable judgments!

Goodbye non-silent judgments!

Goodbye "duh" noise!

Goodbye noticing everything I do and buy!

Goodbye still not realizing in your sixties that different people have different ideas and make different decisions, and that that does not make them "idiots"!

Goodbye not liking our older children!

Goodbye eating in 2 minutes and not saying anything nice about the food!

Goodbye soft-boiled egg every single goddamned morning!

Goodbye wanting everything cooked without salt or fat!

Goodbye not realizing you like bland food because you're OLD, not because "everyone" adds "so much seasoning to everything"!

Goodbye making critical remarks about everyone and everything in the world and then adding "But they didn't ask me!"

Goodbye, "hamburg"! Also, it's ground turkey.

Goodbye password-protect on my computer!

Goodbye having to hide my journals!

Goodbye implausible stories about how evil and stupid other people are, and even more implausible stories about how righteous and intelligent you are!

Goodbye claiming you need us to provide "plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables" and then eating nothing but the canned corn and the iceberg lettuce!

Goodbye sitting in the passenger seat with your purse neatly on your lap!

Goodbye sitting in a recliner telling me which children are crying or need their noses wiped!

Goodbye unkind comments about weight, you fat troll!

October 21, 2007

Last Day

I am breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth. My mother-in-law gets more comfortable with each passing day, and the thin wall between her brain and her mouth continues to deteriorate.

Last night Rob came upstairs on the verge of tears, saying that he'd accidentally knocked the bag of Scrabble tiles off the table, and tiles had gone everywhere. He was despairing about having to pick them all up, since he and William had JUST finished cleaning up. I know exactly how this feels, so I was telling him some of the ways I cope with this kind of thing: (1) clean it up fast and get it over with; (2) make a game out of it; (3) take a few minutes to do something soothing before approaching the frustrating task. My mother-in-law said "quietly" to Paul, "OR, you could just PICK THEM UP." She followed this with a duh-flavored "ckkk" noise, like, "Buncha idiots."

This morning I put some already-made muffins into the oven to heat them. Normally I put muffins in the microwave, but they're so much better if you can make the top crunchy again, so since we have company I put them in the oven. She said, "You know, Swistle, you can just put those in the MICROWAVE." Oh! I can use OTHER SOURCES OF HEAT? I NEVER would have realized that if you hadn't told me! So I explained in a light tone about how I wanted to make the tops nice again. She made her duh noise again, followed by, "It's not that important to ME." Tone: "You crazy, wasteful idiot."

Paul made an experimental dinner that came out GREAT. I mentioned it no fewer than six times while we were eating, praising the seasonings, the colors, everything about it. Toward the end of the meal, he made a little joke about how awesome the food was. My mother-in-law said, "I guess you have to toot your own horn if no one else is going to do it." Tone: "My son does his WIFE'S job, and she doesn't even appreciate it."

I was playing with Henry, telling him what a cute baby he was. My mother-in-law said in a "joking" voice, "Except for that spot on his head!," referring to a patch of cradle cap. I decided not to get into it, and just went on playing with Henry. She couldn't let it go, and said, "NOT his most attractive feature!"--still in her "joking" tone.

I made a batch of brownies, which mother-in-law really liked. I thought they were insufficiently chocolatey, so when I made another batch, I added an extra chunk of baking chocolate. My mother-in-law kept making little remarks like, "Well, you wouldn't want to make them BITTER" and "They tasted chocolatey enough to ME"--with a little laugh like I was weirdly picky and possibly crazy. I brought her a plate of brownies when they were done, and she ate them silently. Then she said in an unpleasant tone, "Well, I wouldn't want them any MORE chocolatey, THAT'S for sure." I didn't respond, so she said it again. I tried to pretend that we were just having a fun cooking discussion, so I said contemplatively that no, I didn't think I'd add more chocolate that this, and that the only thing I might do is try half an extra square instead of a full one next time. She said flatly, "Yes. That would be better." Tone: "This was a stupid idea. You ruined these brownies because you couldn't be happy. Half a square will ruin them less than a full square did."

She asked when Henry would start solids. I said that the current recommendation for breastfed babies was around six months, but that my pediatrician said it was fine to start as early as four months. She said, "Oh, because he's nursing SO FREQUENTLY. I think he's HUNGRY." Henry is nursing six times per twenty-four hours, which is if anything INfrequently.

She said the twins were learning to talk so rapidly! And just think of how much more they'll be talking in even just a month! And that's even with Rob and William being "such poor role models!" Rob has a mild articulation delay; William does not.

She has referred to Paul many times as a "chocoholic." Not only does this term give me a flash of Garfield posters and "funny" email forwards about how broken cookies don't have calories, but Paul is not a big chocolate eater. He likes it fine, but can take it or leave it most of the time. She's trying to say he's fat and eats a lot of junk food: she always uses the word when referring to his size or his eating habits. She'd talk about Paul's father and how much weight he's put on, and then sigh and say that he was "a chocoholic, just like Paul." I finally said, "Actually, Paul doesn't eat much chocolate," and she IMMEDIATELY jumped on it: "GOOD! Because he doesn't need it! No, he SURE DOESN'T NEED IT."

She was reading to the twins. They were bringing her the paperback Maisy books they like. She made a sarcastic remark to the twins, "Oh, ANOTHER Maisy book? Oh GOOD," then rolled her eyes at me and said, "These BOOKS. There's nothing TO them." Oh, dear, are my TWO-year-olds not reading War and Peace yet?

We went to Target, and she told me about these wonderful cooking utensils she'd bought on her last trip to see us. She did not buy those. I gave them to her for Christmas. She never said anything about them; I assumed because she was too busy telling me that she had no use for the tea I'd also given her.

-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

One of the things that has always pissed me off mightily about my mother-in-law is the way she has falsely predicted my future behavior/feelings. She's a terrible "Wait until you...." type. When I was pregnant, it was, "Better sleep now, because after the baby comes you'll never sleep again!" When I professed to enjoy the new baby, she said, "Wait until he's a toddler!" If we bought anything at all for the new baby (crib, car seat), it was, "First-time parents have to buy ALL the trimmings!" When I mentioned wanting another baby, she said she'd wanted that too until her second was born. Etc.

One thing I hate about that kind of prediction is that I can't argue with her about it: I DON'T know how things will be later on, so even though I think she's wrong, it's hard to say so. NOW she has added a new spin: telling me false things about the PAST. She said, "When Rob was a baby you had a SCREEN over the nursery door to keep the cat out! Now the cat just walks right over the baby!" And: "When Rob was little you kept ALL the toys JUST SO on the shelves! But NOW look!" Merry laughter as she simultaneously mocks my past self and my current self.

But the fact is, when Rob was a baby we let the cat hop right into his crib--with my mother-in-law FREAKING OUT about it. And we had toys all jumbled together in a bin and on the floor next to the bin, with my mother-in-law saying "to Rob" things like "Let's try to make some order out of this chaos," and then "under her breath" (i.e., loudly enough for me to hear in the next room), "This is just IMPOSSIBLE!"

See, this way she gets me again and again. She predicts how foolish I will be and mocks me for that future behavior. Then she criticizes the way I actually do things, without noticing that she was wrong about how I would behave. Then she remembers my behavior hugely incorrectly and mocks THAT. Then she also criticizes my current, "inconsistent" behavior. And none of it can be argued with. Wow. She is a MASTER.

October 19, 2007

More About Aging Fish

There were many who asked of my last post, How could I say this mother-in-law visit wasn't horrible? And very gratifying it was, too, as were all the other comments, some of which made me cry-laugh. When I delete these posts, I always save all the comments into a wordprocessing document first, so that I may pet them and love them and hug them to me like little sweet hamsters of love.

And now I will answer the question. I have many, many answers:
  1. Because it is relative. Normally she stays 2.5 weeks. At this point I would still have almost 2 weeks left to go, and black despair would be filling my heart--but instead I have only the weekend. I can make it to Monday.
  2. Because I am getting used to it. Just as I now know from experience that for a month or so after childbirth I will require frequent hot meals to remain sane, I now know from experience that a visit from my mother-in-law will require certain coping devices: bag of candy per day; a nursing station in another room; liquor and tranqs if not nursing; caffeine every single morning in large quantities; scheduled activities; pushing her into interactive activities with the children.
  3. Because Paul, too, is getting used to it. Just as he now knows to provide me with plenty of meals after a baby is born, he now knows to take a few days off of work while his mother is here--ignoring my protests about how much smaller his paycheck will be. He knows to take his mom and Rob and William to a museum a couple of hours away, so that they will be gone all day, giving me a day to enjoy my quiet, empty house. (Well, quiet and empty except for two toddlers and a baby.) He knows to invite his mom to play games in the evening, so I can go off to another room and breathe. He knows that when she says for the fiftieth time that we should "add a can of corn to stretch that hamburg," he should reply, "Oh, gross! No, mom, we're not going to do that"--rather than leaving me to flounder in politeness. He knows to TELL me that if we buy such-and-such she'll make comment X, or that if we do such-and-such an activity she'll make comment Y--so that I will not fall into traps. He knows she is HIS mother, and that he must not disappear to his computer, leaving me alone with her. He knows not to defend her if I complain later. And he knows how to make an excellent dismissive sound combined with a dismissive hand gesture, as if to say, "She is nothing to us."
  4. Because my expectations have changed. At first I hoped for good visits and a good relationship. Now I hope not to kill her, and not to have a horrible uncomfortable fight with her. I hope to GET THROUGH IT, that's all. If I also manage to make things easy on myself by avoiding a feud, all the better.
  5. Because I am selective in what I tell you. Do I tell you about the perfectly pleasant--if boring--chat we had over a breakfast of coffee and juice and fresh-baked muffins? No. Do I tell you how she several times praised the muffins? No. Do I tell you about how I got her talking about her job and thus passed several hours of nearly irritation-free evening? No. Do I tell you how she's been going back to her motel around 8:00 p.m., giving me a couple of hours each evening to restoreth the soul? No. I just tell you the bad stuff, so that you will pity me and leave comments that further restoreth my soul.

Speaking of which, let's have some more bad stuff. It's more interesting to talk about, and it helps to vent to you--I don't like to complain TOO much to Paul, since she IS his flesh-and-blood (*shudder*).
  1. Paul and I went to pick up our car at the shop the other evening, leaving her in charge of the sleeping kids. When we returned, there was the STRONG smell of pesticide in the house. We were totally mystified, searching all around for leaking cans or outdoor breezes. Then we looked at each other, as both of us realized the most likely explanation was that his mother had sprayed while we were gone. Using the pesticide we use ONLY outdoors, and ONLY for severe infestation problems. We'd seen her making faces at the few flies that always manage to get into the house this time of year, and she'd commented on the fruit flies "all over the place." To be fair, we don't know that this is what happened. Those mischievous fairies could have been to blame.
  2. I was running around this morning as the children cried and fought and needed things and the mother-in-law sat in her chair regarding the spin of the earth. Henry was fussing, so I gave him to my mother-in-law to hold. After awhile she said, "Could he possibly need to EAT again?" I figured he needed a nap, so I took him. And he was totally blown out, all the way up his back. She couldn't have failed to notice: it was completely visible and smellable. Note: There was no way she could have won with me on this one, though. If she'd said, "Swistle! This baby needs changed!" (there's evidently an Infinitive Conservation Initiative where she comes from), I would have been even more annoyed. If she'd changed him herself, I wouldn't have liked her questions or her rummagings or her comments about it. So I fully admit it was a lose-lose-lose situation for her; nevertheless, I was annoyed and the situation seemed indicative of deep character flaws. In her, I mean. We can talk about mine another time.
  3. The morning she and Paul went to the museum, she brought over a sack of dirty laundry for "if" I was doing laundry today. First: the dirty laundry was FOLDED, which irritated me immensely. What does it MEAN? Second: as I discovered after the first load and again after the second, she had tissues in most of her pockets. Surely I was not expected to check her pockets. (You might think I'd mind doing her laundry at all, but again, this is lose-lose for her: if she does it herself, I resent her "snooping" my laundry.)
  4. She keeps making these fake-laugh comments about how riDICKulous everything is at our house. The counters are SO HIGH! The changing table is SO HIGH! The cupboards--she can't REACH, because they're SO HIGH! She TRIED to set the table, but she just can't REACH that HIGH! It's riDICKulous! Shrill fake laugh! She is five feet tall. Pardon us for having standard counters and changing tables.
  5. She keeps doing things I can't interpret. I find a few clean cups from the drying rack in a little stack of unmatched types on the counter. Is she trying to...help? But also commenting on how riDICKulously high the cupboards are? I can't tell. What does it mean that all our shoes have been lined up by the door? And the FOLDED dirty laundry. Like crop circles, the meaning defies interpretation.
  6. This afternoon, she commented, "Whooo, we'd better get a start on dinner!" If you think this means that the two of us work side by side to get dinner ready, you would be SADLY MISTAKEN. This was her way of telling me that she thought I should be starting dinner.
  7. This morning she and I went out shopping with the three littles. She commented that I could do this now that I had another adult to help me out. I can't explain to you how VERY HELPFUL she was. Like when we were getting ready to go, and she got her own coat on and sat quietly while I got all three children changed and coated, the diaper bags gathered and readied, the house ready for us to leave it--and then she remarked with a laugh how FUNNY it is that it takes SO LONG to just get ready to go anywhere! Or like when we came out of the store and she got into the car and sat there with her purse in her lap, tactfully not complaining about how long it was taking me to unload the shopping cart of the three children and all the purchases. Oh, she is such an excellent and helpful companion! How DO I manage without her?

October 18, 2007

Something About Fish and Its Appeal After Three Days

With not quite four days done, and more than three days remaining, I am beginning to lose my joie de vivre. The mother-in-law visit is not horrible. But I am counting days.

Tuesday night I had a bad dream that my mother-in-law was visiting. Then I woke up, and I thought, "Whew." Then, "OH NO!!!"

She is getting gradually worse with each day, as usual. Yesterday evening, she told two little anecdotes about pregnancy weight--both after looking at me consideringly. One was asking me if I'd heard Barbara Bush's story about how she gained 60 pounds during pregnancy and unfortunately the baby didn't weigh sixty pounds. Second: "I know why your cat is so fat! She never lost her pregnancy weight!"

She's made several negative remarks about Rob's overbite. Opening sally was "What are you going to do about Robert's teeth?" in the demanding tone of voice a manager might use with an underling who had committed a grave error and was being asked how she was going to fix it. Another day: "Whoooh! Robert's TEETH! My GOODNESS!" Later she said to me, "So Robert gets his teeth from you, I guess?" I wasn't sure what she meant, and I said, "Paul had braces too, right?" She said, "Oh! Yes! But not for anything like THAT! My word!"

She said, "Who drinks HEINEKEN??" the way you might ask, "Who hired this HOOKER??" When I said we kept it for my dad when he was working on the house, she said, "Whoooh! Because I knew PAUL didn't drink it! Har har!" So I guess she assumed it was mine. As if there'd be anything wrong with that. And since Paul hasn't lived with her since pre-drinking age, I can't imagine why she thinks she knows anything at all about it.

She is wearing her coat inside. She keeps saying she should have brought her winter jacket but hadn't realized she'd need it.

We went to Wa1mart and she said she needed to buy antacid. She said she usually doesn't need it at home, but when she eats "so late" she has trouble. We've had dinner twice at 5:30, once at 5:45.

She asked Henry if he is getting spoiled. She asked him, "Oh, is the WHOLE WORLD not paying attention to you?"--when he fussed lightly after an hour of silence in his bouncy seat. She's informed him loudly that his socks were falling off. She asked him if his mother was going to change his diaper in the living room in front of everybody.

Last night she was silent when William mentioned he was out of pull-ups (he wears them to bed). Today she told a story of some CRAZY mother she knew whose child still wasn't fully potty-trained at age four. IF YOU CAN IMAGINE IT.

She was watching me help Rob with his homework. Rob is learning cursive. He and I had to work for awhile on his lowercase B, which he was doing like a lowercase L followed by a lowercase R. Later, my mother-in-law said to me, "Swistle, I heard you telling Rob about his cursive B earlier." I said, "Mm?" She said, "I see YOUR B looks like an H with a line through it!" Merry laughter. Oh, I see: clearly it was ridiculous, then, for me to correct Rob.

I told William to come outside to get his hair cut (I do his with clippers). My mother-in-law called out immediately, "Robert could use one too." Oh yes? Should he also get a real job? Also, perhaps she could notice that he does not have 2 years' hair growth; therefore, we are managing to get his hair cut even when she is not here to tell us he needs one.

She's been telling the kids what to do, and then criticizing the way they do it. She says to us, "They're getting pretty GOOFY," in a hard, disapproving tone. Yesterday at the store she said exasperatedly, "You need a whole grown-up just to take care of Edward!" I'm trying to breathe deeply and remember that this probably will not cover them in emotional scars. She's an old bat, and it's good for children to learn of the existence of old bats.

Belated Blog Action Day

Today I would like to go back in time to Blog Action Day and make two more environmental points. Because who DOESN'T enjoy a second helping of environmental preaching? Get yer butts back in the pews.

I suppose this is the whole idea of B.A.D. (which, incidentally, shouldn't be acronymed): it gets you thinking about environmental stuff even after the day is over. That insight is GENIUS, Capt. Swistle Obvious!

Anyway. Two things.

Thing the first: The fact that reusable items need to be washed between uses is not a reason to use disposable items instead. I keep hearing people say that cloth diapers are not really an environmentally-friendly option because they require the use of water and detergent and so forth. Well, okay: I admit those issues need to be taken into account, and that people who use cloth diapers shouldn't prance around talking about how THEIR actions have NO environmental impact, unlike OTHER people who use DISPOSABLES. But on the other hand, the plastic boxes I use for my kids' school sandwiches have to be washed, too. Does that mean I might as well use plastic baggies instead? My clothes need to be washed. Does that mean I might as well wear disposable clothing and throw it out at the end of each day? My dishes need to be washed. Does that mean it would be better for the environment to use paper plates and plastic utensils and throw them out after each meal? Answer = no. Reusable items require maintenance, and of course they also need to be manufactured at some environmental cost, and eventually they will be in landfills--but the balance still tips in their favor.

Thing the second: Doing one bad thing for the environment does not "cancel out" doing one good thing. If we use solar energy to heat our bath water, and then stand in the shower reading a book as water runs down the drain, it's tempting to see that as a ridiculous combination of activities. People also mock the combination of a double cheeseburger and a diet soda. Neither combination is in fact ridiculous. Leaving aside the issue of whether someone might prefer diet soda, or whether calories are a good measure of a food's worth--do we think that if you eat a lot of calories, it ONLY makes sense to eat A LOT MORE? Do we think that if you waste water, it ONLY makes sense to also waste water that came from a more environmentally-harmful source? If I keep accidentally leaving lights on, does that mean I should use incandescents instead of fluorescents? If I do a lot of driving, does that mean I should avoid a hybrid? Answer = no. Mathematically speaking, environmentally bad plus environmentally good is greater than environmentally bad plus environmentally bad.

October 16, 2007

News From the Front

Hi! Hi hi! I am here! My mother invited my mother-in-law and the three children to spend the morning at her house! This meets the eligibility requirements for sainthood, right? I am dialing the Pope RIGHT NOW.

I wish I had better dirt for you, but so far the visit has been fine. I wouldn't call it enjoyable, but I haven't had to keep from lunging for her throat, either. There have been several Remarks, but of the level/quantity that I would feel bitchy relating to others because they've been the normal "people who aren't used to each other" type.

I know: it doesn't make good copy, does it?

Last night Paul handled dinner, so I haven't tried any of your AWESOME-looking recipe suggestions yet (thank you so much for those!). He cut up some chicken, put it in a pan with red and green peppers, and added this and that: rice vinegar, corn starch, soy sauce, probably sugar because it was kind of sweetish. He put it over rice and it turned out excellent. I made a very basic salad with lettuce and tomatoes and carrots and shredded cheese, and I set the table with the new dishes, and look at us! Eating around the table on matched dishes like we do EVERY NIGHT. I counseled Rob and William ahead of time. Do we say, "Wow, this is neat eating at the table! Usually we eat in the living room while we watch TV!" NO WE DO NOT.

October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Oh, hey! Am I too late for Blog Action Day? I hadn’t heard of it until right this moment. It's an environmental awareness thing, right? It's not my usual kind of topic (I'm more about rampant consumerism), but oKAY! Paul is playing rummy with the mother-in-law, so I have a few minutes.

Here is what I have noticed about environmental issues and me: If someone asks me to make a huge change or care about huge things, I shut it out. Sometimes I even get angry, or I get completely discouraged about doing anything at all. I think, "My own personal change of heart on this issue is not going to have a measurable effect on the collective actions of multiple nations. Therefore, unless I am going to become an activist--which I am not--there is no point in even paying attention."

If, however, someone asks me to do something in more of a "Do the best you can, because even a tiny thing makes a big difference" way, I exceed expectations. Ask me to swap "just one" incandescent bulb for a fluorescent one, and I'll change every bulb in the house.

I might as well come out and tell you that where I'm going with this is that I use handkerchiefs. Cloth handkerchiefs, yes. I blow my nose into pieces of cloth, yes, which I then launder, yes. Listen, I know this is a lot to take in, and I can wait while you adjust to the idea. If you need a little space to re-evaluate our relationship, that's fine.

I understand. You think it's gross. "You blow your nose into fabric and then save it in your pocket?," you're saying incredulously, if you can talk while gagging. I didn't grow up using them, so it was a hurdle for me, too. At first it felt like wiping my nose on my sleeve, but it didn't take long for it to seem completely normal. And that makes sense: paper facial tissues haven't even been around for 100 years yet, and before that everyone used fabric without feeling weird about it or thinking it was gross. Blowing your nose on a thin piece of paper and then burying it in a hole in the ground--now THAT would have seemed weird and gross.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Doing my part for environmental awareness by writing about blowing my nose.

Handkerchief drawer (oh sure: like I'd IRON and FOLD them!)

Also see: Belated Blog Action Day

Direct to Voice Mail

Hi, you've reached Swistle, at www.swistle.blogspot.com. I can't come to the blog right now, because I am busy listening to someone tell me how I could better live my life.

In a week you will be able to reach me at the institution. Whether it will be mental or correctional depends on the limits of my self-restraint.

At the beep, please leave sympathy, empathy, cigarettes for bartering.

BEEP.

October 14, 2007

Cooking Advice, Please!

I don't know why it took me so long to realize that I will need to MAKE DINNER while my mother-in-law is here, and that my usual "Hm, scrambled eggs? soup? cereal?" is not going to work. So quick, you cooking types! Fly to my side!

First: easy ways to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts. And since I have a contamination issue, I'm looking for ways that involve minimal handling of raw meat. That is, I am not going to be pounding raw chicken with a mallet, and I'd rather not have to dredge it, either, although I guess I'm willing to as long as I can throw away the container afterward. What I really want to do is put the chicken in a casserole dish, pour something over it to keep it moist, and bake the living bacteria heck out of it. Then I want to serve it with potato/rice and a vegetable. I'm thinking...cream soup? Is that what I need here?

Second: easy ways to flavor rice. I have a rice steamer so it's really easy to cook rice--but I don't know what to ADD to it. Do you?

October 12, 2007

Is This Seriously an Entire Post about AIR FRESHENER?

Okay! Shopping! I am SO HIGH on this morning's shopping successes, I hardly know where to start!

Let's start with the smell of my house, which is DELICIOUS. Farrell promised me that I would love Glade Plug-Ins, but I hesitated: I think of plug-in air fresheners as smelling basically like public restrooms. But she SWORE her house smelled AWESOME. So today I went to Target just to get a feel for the investment involved, and the scented oil plug-in units (which come with one fill) were on sale for $2.50 (down from $4-something), and so were the refills.

In fact, now that I think of it, I should have bought nothing but units: the choice is $2.50 for a unit-plus-fill or $2.50 for just the fill, so I am a big duh for buying two units and two refills instead of four units for the same price. Well anyway! I have three scents to try: the Lavender & Vanilla that came with the units (oh, that's why I got refills: the only units left were the L & V ones), one called Clean Linen, and one called Lemon & Chamomile. The lemon one smells like Lemon Pledge. I think if I use the Clean Linen one and the lemon one together, it will trick people into thinking my house MUST be clean.

I came home and plugged in the Lavender & Vanilla one and it was a little too vanilla-y for me, so I put it downstairs near the cat box. I plugged the Clean Linen one into the bathroom outlet, and I LOVE that one: it smells like fabric softener. It's too early for a full report on long-term satisfaction--but if you want to try it, too, ON SALE AT TARGET GO GO GO. They had a bunch of other scents: tropical, fruity, flowery, vanilla. The packages have a little scratch-and-sniff sticker on the fronts so you can see if it's yummy or sickening or restroomy.

Shoot, I wanted to tell you about the other things I bought, and to give you an update on the mother-in-law dish situation, but I hear the twins waking up from their naps. I've had less time to post recently, too, because I have been CLEANING LIKE A MADWOMAN for the mother-in-law arriving MONDAY. You should see my gorgeous, gorgeous kitchen--and smell my bleachy, bleachy hands.

October 10, 2007

Cookie Tutorial: Oatmeal Scotchies and Basic Chocolate Chip

It has come to my attention that there are some in our midst who have never had Oatmeal Scotchies. I think the important thing here is NOT TO PANIC. Please form an orderly line and walk--don't run, don't take anything with you--to the Quaker Oats site, and then to the grocery store to procure ingredients. We will have you fixed up in no time. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY.


And here is the recipe itself, in case you are from the future, rooting through mankind's archives in a radiation-proof vault, posts preserved but links destroyed in our hurry to escape impending alien overlords:

Oatmeal Scotchies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 package (11 oz.) butterscotch flavored chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add oats and butterscotch morsels; mix well. Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7 to 8 minutes for a chewy cookie or 9 to 10 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

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I made a couple of changes: I removed the "margarine" option from the butter line, and I removed the word "optional" from the salt line. Obviously you may use margarine and leave out the salt, but there will be an awkward silence when you tell me about it.

Also, some of you said that your chocolate chip cookies don't look like the ones in yesterday's photo, shown here again:


Well, the first step in diagnosing the problem is to make sure you're using my recipe, which is basically straight off the back of the bag, and which I have posted before as Postpartum Chocolate-Chip Cookies:

1 cup (1 stick) Crisco
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-1/4 cups flour
1 bag (12 oz) chocolate chips

Cream Crisco and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Add baking soda, salt, and flour. Add chocolate chips. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet, 375 degrees F, 9-10 minutes.

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Notice that one of the intensely awesome elements of this recipe is that if you use a Crisco stick (and what do you mean, you don't use Crisco sticks?), you can do all the measuring with a single measuring cup (three of the 3/4 cup used for the sugar is the 2-1/4 cups flour) and a single measuring spoon (dry it off after measuring the vanilla). You don't have a 3/4 cup? Oh, honey. They're made by Tupperware, and they also have a 2/3 cup. The set is crazy expensive, but I use those two measurements so often, it's totally worth it. I like the older-style ones (I don't like the swoopy handles on the newer ones) so I bought mine used on evilBay. If you're not picky about color and you find reasonable shipping, you can find a set for cheaper than new.

Where were we? Oh, yes: you were writing "Tupperware measuring cups" on your Christmas list.

And then you were making a batch of cookies. Maybe two batches.

October 9, 2007

Cleaning Project: Bathroom Closet

1) Breakfast of Champions:


2) Say to self repeatedly, "Mother-in-law coming in six days, six days, six days," until frothy, panic-like consistency is achieved.

3) Take "Before" picture:


4) Toss cat out of closet.

5) Bring large kitchen trash can into bathroom for "sorting."

6) Put laundry basket outside bathroom for things that need to live elsewhere.

7) Put a towel in the bathtub so I can put things in there without them getting damp.

8) Leave toilet lid up so I remember not to put things on there (we're a one-toilet household).

9) Take everything out. Clean. Put less-than-everything back in. Throw away, among other things:
  • retainer, last worn age 12 (saved out of lasting fear of orthodontist, who was so very adamant about NOT LOSING THE RETAINER)
  • box of matches with only 2 matches left (matches added to fuller box)
  • two nail-polish-removing canisters, too full of removed nail polish to work anymore
  • incense, from when we used to use incense
  • bottle of Nair--WHY?
  • liquid eyeliner--WHY?
  • mascara marked 2005 (I'd read that mascara should be labeled so you'd know if there was a good reason it was so disappointingly clumpy and dry)
  • three caps, containers unknown
  • sixteen eyeshadows in colors like "urban" (harsh, cynical blue) and "island shimmer" (pale shimmery seafoam green)--WHY OH WHY?
10) Take "After" picture:


11) Change clothes to get rid of bothersome lemony-clean fragrance.


I still need to deal with the shoe-holder full of hair accessories I never use (hanging on left wall of closet), but that's going to have to wait for a fresh breakfast. And I need to deal with the medicine cabinet and the under-the-sink cabinet--but again, live to fight another day.

I don't think the photos tell the entire grueling story, but is it interesting enough for ME to try to tell what the photos left out? Like, you see that white box on the top shelf? I put stuff like contraceptives in there--anything I would really rather my mother-in-law not see. I'm 5'9" and I had to stand on tip-toe to get that box up there, so my 5' mother-in-law would need a really good excuse. "Needed an aspirin" won't cut it.

See the bin of bath toys? I dumped them all out and scrubbed the bin.

I got rid of several of the empty tissue boxes I was using for storage, and replaced them with sturdier cardboard or plastic boxes.

I dealt with the stuff you can't see below the bottom shelf (extra toilet paper, bucket of cleaning supplies, baby bath seat, empty toilet paper rolls, spilled q-tips, cat fur), and the stuff in the little white cupboard (lower right, holding up the bin of bath toys).

I took away the Cat Towel we use to cover our towels, and it's down in the washing machine.

After emptying the kitchen trash, I took the trash can outside and scrubbed off several layers of OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT? from the outside and inside.

In short: I did a lot of work today, and I am glad, and I feel that much readier for the impending visit. But also: I am in need of a reward such as a second plate of chocolate-chip cookies, and there are no more cookies, nor are there any more chocolate chips in the house. Hm...maybe Oatmeal Scotchies?

October 8, 2007

Joyce is Back! Also: Long and Painfully Boring Description of My Avon Purchases

Good news for those of you who, like me, have been missing Joyce Slaton's column Tending Violet column over at BabyCenter: she's back, writing for their Momformation blog. I am trying not to read the posts too fast, because I want to make them last.

I got my Avon order! I got the Slick Tint for Lips, which I thought was a barely-tinted lip balm but it's more like a very sheer lipstick. Well, maybe that's what a barely-tinted lip balm IS. Anyway, I love it. I have to look in the mirror when I put it on (if it were a barely-tinted lip balm, I wouldn't have to look), but then it sort of ABSORBS into my lips and makes them look like they're just awesome like that. It isn't wet like a lip gloss, so I use a plain lip balm over the top. I got it in Glossy Wine, and it was only a dollar, so I'm going to order the other two colors too.

I got one each of all the other lip balms they offer, and they all seem good. They go on sale for 69 cents, but I paid 99 cents each and I'm not sorry. The thing is, I LOVE sales--but of course when SOME stuff is on sale, OTHER stuff isn't. I was going to order Twig-colored lip plumping lipstick, but by the time I stopped dithering it wasn't on sale anymore, and so I didn't order it. When it goes on sale again I'll order it--but then the other things I want won't be on sale. (If any of you ordered the Twig, tell me: is it BROWN-brown? or red-brown? or what?)

I got the Soft Musk cologne I used to wear in high school. Man, that brings me back. I don't think I'll wear it much, because it isn't in my current Expensive French Perfumes style, and "musk" is kind of a gross word--but it was fun to sniff it again, and I'll wear it when I'm feeling nostalgic.

I bought the Advance Techniques Smoothing shampoo and conditioner, and they are perfectly nice. They do as good a job as any smoothing products I try--which is to say that they do NOT make my hair into the flowing river of gloss I hope for, but they do make it easier to comb, and less springy and flyaway.

I bought Nailwear nail enamel in Wink and in Sheer French Pink, but I haven't used them yet. Ditto for the Nail Experts Instant Gel Cuticle Remover and the Nail Experts Healthy Shine. When I ordered them, I don't think I was fully comprehending how unlikely it was that I was going to do my nails anytime soon. But when I do, I'll be READY!

I bought the True Color Eyeshadow Quad in Blushing Raisins and in Fresh Cut Greens. I love the name "Fresh Cut Greens." ("Blushing Raisins" could use some work.) I've tried the second-lightest green and the two darkest raisins so far, and I like them all pretty well. The one from the Greens pack was like a pale green with gold shimmer in it. The ones from the Raisins pack were a barely-noticeable purple with highly-noticeable glitter, and a medium shade that matched my undereye circles. So far, the greens are winning--I don't think the raisins are right for me, but they're fun to try. I think I'll get the more purpley purples next time.

I bought the Hydrofirming cream in both Day and Night versions. They're creamy and yum, and it's fun to take a dip from a glass jar instead of a squeeze from a plastic bottle--makes me feel all fancy and rich. They're almost TOO thick: I can still feel it if I touch my skin later. But when winter comes, that's exactly what I'll be looking for for my poor parched hide.

So! A successful first order, the kind that leaves me leafing through the thoughtfully-provided catalog, wondering what I'll order NEXT time. I do want the Twig lipstick, and I want to try the VitaMoist face cream and the Silicone Glove hand cream. I want to try some of the Anew stuff, because I've heard good things about it, and I want to try more of the nail polish and lipstick colors as I get a better idea of how the colors in the catalog (online or paper) correspond to the actual colors.

Did you like your stuff? [Edited to add: If you haven't ordered but want to, don't feel like you've missed the boat: Lee says she gets the same commission on the online orders no matter when they're placed, so there's no deadline as I'd previously thought.]

October 6, 2007

TMI Weekend

Hi! And welcome to TMI Weekend! I'd like to remind Paul and my parents that they have agreed promised solemnly sworn sworn a sacred vow promised not to read any posts I haven't authorized them to read. I do not authorize this one, nor should ANYONE who knows me in person read it. Go back! Seriously! Don't read it! I mean it! Go away!






In a recent unpleasant talk with Paul about our sex life, I agreed it was a reasonable request that I be more tactful in turning down physical affection. I agreed it was reasonable that I allow hugs and kisses--even gropings--to occur without assuming they were preliminaries to larger moves. I agreed that my natural inclination to swat wildly at invading hands while yelling, "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!" could hurt someone's feelings.

But do you know what the actual outcome of this discussion was? Apparently I created the impression that I was no longer allowed to say no to physical affection. Last night (tonight, really, but now we're in the a.m. part) Paul gave me the Modified Silent Treatment (short, distant, "mm"-type answers to remarks; lack of eye contact; palpable silence; lying a different way in bed; not falling asleep within seconds as usual) after I willingly allowed hugs, kisses, and gropings during the day--but then wouldn't Go All The Way that night.

That is SO DUMB. I mean, the reason I had been turning down the preliminaries is that they always lead to the main event, and so I was nipping things in the bud when I knew I wasn't interested or willing to pretend to be interested. He said he didn't want things nipped in the bud, so I said fine. And now he's mad at me for not saying yes to EVERYTHING. Is this or is this not High School Boy behavior? They take it farther and farther and farther until you say no. It's exhausting, and it's GUARANTEED to result in a "no" SOMEWHERE, and so then it's followed by sulking. Oh, did you try to steal third when the base coach was doing that no-no-no thing with his hands? SO SORRY YOU GOT TAGGED OUT. Next time don't try to steal third against the signal. Idiot.

Mother Nature in her patchy wisdom has caused me to be absolutely asexual while I'm breastfeeding. Sex is nothing but irritating friction to me right now. Since we're using condoms and spermicide and KY, it's MESSY irritating friction. Since I'm up in the night with children, it's messy irritating friction WHEN I'D RATHER BE SLEEPING. And since this is the way these things go, when I'm thinking, "Okay, let's get this over with," it goes on FOREVER.

It doesn't even do anything for me emotionally. Is there anything more ridiculous than someone else's sexual passion, if you're not feeling it yourself? It's like being around drunk people when you're sober. Worse: when there seems to be some expectation that you will ACT drunk even when you're sober, or that in fact the drinking was YOUR OWN IDEA because you are SO THIRSTY. Bleah.

October 5, 2007

Sleep Problems Redux

[Edited to add: Go congratulate Jen at Never Melts--she had her little baby boy!]

I took my coffee this morning like medicine. I hovered near the pot as it brewed--waiting, waiting. I drank it too hot and too fast.

We're having Sleep Issues again. You know what that's like. "IT WILL NEVER END! IT WILL ALWAYS BE THIS WAY!!" Right now it's Elizabeth and Henry, both. Elizabeth wakes, cries out for 5 seconds, then goes back to sleep--ten times per night. Then sometimes it's more crying, and we have to make the call: go in? or hope she goes back to sleep? She won't go back to sleep if we go in, unless we bring her to our bed, and then she'll toss and turn and I won't be able to sleep. Last night she was shrieking so frantically, we brought her in with us. That was around midnight, and I knew the night was going to be downhill from there. I woke up this morning with her face about an inch from mine, her little eyes peering perkily into mine. I could hardly see her past the undereye baggage.

Henry is waking twice a night or more, not the same times so I'm not adjusting to it the way I could when he consistently woke at, say, 1:30 and at 4:00. He's SCREAMING and raging, starving. He nurses restlessly, thrashing. Is he teething? gassy? I change his diaper and he yells so loud he wakes Elizabeth on another floor of the house. He goes back to sleep. I go back to sleep. And Elizabeth cries out.

And of course the coffee I'm drinking to make ME feel better could be making HENRY worse. And of course bringing Elizabeth into our room when she cries could be making HER worse. Isn't it nice to be plagued with self-doubt EVERY SINGLE MINUTE?? Become a mother and enjoy the adventure!

October 2, 2007

Help Wanted: Stopping Weight Talk

My mom recently lost some weight. She's always been thin, but now she's noticeably thinner.

Her friends are having anxiety attacks over it. I saw one friend in action this past week, and it was not a pretty sight. They were both trying on clothes to show me what they'd bought that day. The friend started off with some self-deprecating pseudo-praise: "You look so great in those pants, I can't keep them for myself. I can't even try them on. I can't even stand next to you." Then insults: "You have a BOY body now!" and "You look EMACIATED in those pants!" Then back to the self-pitying admiration: "You just look fabulous in EVERYTHING now. I look terrible. I'm fat. I should lose weight." Then back to the insults: "I think you're actually TOO THIN for that outfit!" and "No wonder you keep getting sick: you're TOO THIN." Being in the same room with this was exhausting for me--and my mom had been listening to it all day long.

On a related topic, I've been getting jittery as I anticipate my mother-in-law's digs about weight. She mostly goes after Paul. When I finally said sharply [TOTAL LIE--I was meek and quavery] that I thought he was handsome and I liked the way he looked, she was unfazed: "If you think he's handsome NOW, you REALLY would have thought he was handsome without all that weight on him!" ("All that weight" is not the amount of weight it sounds like. She would say that about 5 pounds.) She also likes to ask me how much weight I gained with the last pregnancy, and have I lost all of it yet.

Talking about both situations the other day, my mom and I thought that what we need is something to say when people are talking about weight in a way that's uncomfortable for us. Here are the restrictions:

1) It has to be non-rude, non-confrontational--something total chickens can say. My mom and I are both too polite for our own good, and we're not going to be able to say "Shut it, bitch" even if we agree it's totally called for.

2) Also, neither of us can talk Psych Talk: e.g., "You know, Kathy, it makes me feel uncomfortable when you..." etc. We don't want something that will lead to FURTHER DISCUSSION--particularly further discussion about how the other person feels.

3) It has to be just as applicable when the other person is nagging about weight loss as when the aggressor is nagging about weight gain. We're looking for something more along the lines of Tessie's Policy.

4) And it should be something we can use even when the other person is talking about SOMEONE ELSE'S weight gain/loss.

5) It has to be something you can say to someone you genuinely love: a best friend, a spouse, a mother--not just something you'd use to shut up a mother-in-law or an annoying coworker. But it should also be something you could say to shut up a mother-in-law or annoying coworker.

6) Okay, I guess it doesn't have to be one single remark applicable to all situations. But any help on the topic of "How do I tell him/her to shut the hell up about weight, without saying 'Shut the hell up about weight'?" would be excellent.


Wisdom of the Internet--ACTIVATE!

Baby Diaper Usage, Months Three and Four

(I also did this for Month One and Month Two.)

I don't do it on purpose (that is, I change "when he needs it," not on a schedule), but we use almost exactly the same number of diapers per day: it's almost always six diapers. For "cost per month" purposes I like to round that up to 200 diapers per month--just to be on the generous side. So in months three and four (i.e., from the day he turned 2 months old until the day he turned 4 months old), we'll estimate that Henry used 400 diapers.

I buy Target brand diapers, and Henry is still in size 1 (skinny butt). I can buy a package of 112 size 1 diapers for $10.60.

Math time! Price of $10.60 divided by 112 diapers in the package, is .0946 cents per diaper--approximately 9 and 1/2 cents each. Multiply the per-diaper cost times the 400 diapers used in two months, and we get $37.86 for two months of diapers--or $18.93 per month to put this particular baby in disposables.

And we didn't spend that much. We used more like 360 diapers, as I mentioned, and I saved about $4 with a store coupon and a freak clearance. With those things figured in, we spent closer to $15 per month.

How 'bout a little changeroo for a certain deserving baby?

October 1, 2007

Answer to "Who's the Fatty?" Game

Here's the answer to the Who's the Fatty? game (this time I left the answer on the lower right corner of the picture instead of cropping it out):


(You can PLUS-SIZE the picture by clicking on it.)


Can you believe it? I cannot. I looked and looked and LOOKED at that photo, and couldn't even GUESS who might be the plus-size model. Not one of those girls has a forearm wider than her..."hindarm"? "Upper arm," I guess.

This is the sort of thing that makes me want to go break a few necks, you know? Or hindarms.

Here's something that keeps that mood going: Illustrated BMI Categories, by Shapely Prose. It's mesmerizing and and nauseating to see what doctors call "morbidly obese," "obese," "overweight," "normal," and "underweight."