September 30, 2010

Bumper Stickers

Bumper stickers have been...well, I was going to say "bugging me," but let's call a spade a spade and say they've been PISSING ME OFF. As in, I've been having long, one-sided, sometimes not entirely silent-in-my-head discussions with the imagined owners of said bumper stickers.

The first one that bothered me I saw in two forms within the same week. One was an old peeling "IMPEACH BUSH" sticker, and the other was a new "IMPEACH OBAMA" sticker. I realize a bumper sticker lacks room for detail, but could there be room at least for a "for" and a verb? Does everyone realize we don't get to impeach a president for "not being what we wanted"? There needs to be an actual, legitimate, legally-justified REASON.

The second one I saw in just one format, but both formats (and I'm sure both formats exist) bug me:


It would be just as piss-me-offy if it were "THINKING WOMEN VOTE DEMOCRAT". I don't think I would qualify any woman as a "thinker" if she thought all women should vote unthinkingly exclusively for one party, nor if she thought women should feel pressured by a bumper sticker.

The third one was not actually a bumper sticker but to me goes into a similar category. There were a bunch of political signs up along the side of the road, and one entire batch of signs just said "NOT!" with an arrow, each one put up to point to one particular candidate's signs. That seems really icky. It still seemed icky after I looked up the candidate and realized I would vote against her myself: it isn't about feelings toward a candidate, it's about poor sportsmanship and mudslinging and spending a lot of time and effort to be jerks.

I'll end, though, with a bumper sticker I saw today that put me in a better mood:


Or there's mine:

(Screen shot from

September 28, 2010

We are the World

My mom thought I was kidding about this song/video existing. She thought I was just really gifted at coming up with mid-'80s social-awareness lyrics.

September 26, 2010

Baby Maple Tree

On Friday, Henry and I dropped the twins off at kindergarten, and we were walking back to our car. The path from the kindergarten to the parking lot is edged by a rock wall. And in a crack between two rocks, we saw a baby maple tree.

It couldn't live there: there wasn't enough room or enough dirt anyway, and that's if the person who tends that path didn't pull it out. So we pulled it out. And we brought it home and planted it in a big pot, and we will see.

I had Elizabeth put her hand there for scale,
even though Elizabeth is not otherwise part of this story,
because Elizabeth happened to be outside
when I realized I wanted a photo for this post.

September 25, 2010

Car Business, Cat Business, and Review Business

Car business:

I finally took the minivan in to have the rear door handle replaced. It's been...a year? two? since the handle fell off. Long enough so I'm completely in the habit of using only one rear door, and may never go back. Still, nice to have it done. Except that they found $4500 worth of other stuff they recommend we have done, too. Our car may SEEM like it's running perfectly, but it is CLEARLY ABOUT TO FALL INTO A HEAP OF RUSTED, MALFUNCTIONING PARTS!


Cat business:

Benchley's eye is healed. He can have his funny collar off, and he's been bathing himself constantly ever since we removed it. He might have some lingering scar tissue on his eye, or he might not; we'll have to see.

Mouse is sniffling in addition to peeing everywhere, so I took her to the vet too. Nothing seems to be wrong. Maybe cystitis. Maybe Benchley's recent problems, which involved him being indoors all the time and available to menace her by existing. Maybe age. Maybe some as-yet-undiscovered thing.

It's discouraging. I didn't want to HOPE something was wrong, but our blankets and sheets are starting to fall apart from vigorous daily washing. I'm getting behind on other laundry because peed-on things are soaking in vinegar-water in the washer so much of the time. Yesterday she peed on Elizabeth's bed, including the pink toile quilt.

And yet despite all this GROSSNESS I still think of Mouse as "poor old girl." She's gentle, and she sleeps on my pillow at night---getting up only to pee on Paul. During the day she sleeps in the linen closet, or on the couch. She's just over 5 pounds now, when she used to be well over 11 pounds. She and Benchley were sharing a cat carrier for the vet appointment, and Benchley got aggressive after the appointment and started hissing and scrapping, so as I was loading the carrier into the car I took Mouse out and put her on the front passenger seat, which I realize it totally anti-recommended so no need to scold. And she just settled in on the seat and looked toward the front, purring, looking just like this:

I pictured myself as a little old lady, taking my little old lady cat everywhere I went in my little old lady car.


Review blog business:

ABC "No Ordinary Family" through September 28---leave comment saying what superpowers you'd hand out to the members of your family. (I wanted to be a polyglot.)

8th Continent Soy Milk through September 30 for $100 Visa gift card and free soy milk, among other little tokens such as a complete adventure package; leave comment about one of your "FEEL like a bad parent (but not ACTUALLY a bad parent)" moments. Or if you haven't had any slip-ups (YET), say which video is your favorite: the one where a child repeatedly says "d*ckhead" or the one where a child gets knocked unconscious with a piñata bat.

Also there's the seventh of twelve Kellogg's posts, through September 27th, still for a $100 Visa gift card, this time a comment about how you keep your mornings from turning into huge shrieky sessions positive, or, if you feel like taking the fifth on that one, whether you always have breakfast or not.

And the Juicy Juice sweepstakes is still on through September 30th---$100 Visa gift card and a juice prize pack; leave a comment about your favorite juice.

September 23, 2010

Thrilling Promotional Materials, as Opposed to the Other Kind

Paul bought me two pounds of assorted promotional pens from American Science & Surplus, which went a good long way to repair any lingering bad feelings from our fight from the other day---especially since, unlike a bouquet of apology flowers, these were ordered ahead of time out of pure thoughtfulness, when he hadn't yet realized he might be motivated to act thoughtful in order to smooth things over.

I wish I could take photos of the pens to show you, but the children have misplaced my camera and it's been long enough now that I actually ordered a new camera (I bought this one) (and I'm keeping it in my purse where they can't get to it). You know what would be fun? Dividing a house up like a cow field and letting people choose a square where they bet the camera is, and then having a prize for the winner (maybe some pens!). Except, unlike waiting for a cow to poop, we might have to wait until the kids move out to find that stupid camera.

Anyway, the pens. What they are is promotional pen rejects---the ones that didn't meet quality control for the promotional printing on the barrels. There are about 50 pens to a pound, so I have about 100 (Miss Zoot will envy my pen riches). I would say my favorite so far is an orange one with black polkadots that says "OMNIMOUNT" and "1-800-MOUNT-IT". I have a nice big handful of those. But I also have a few red-and-white Iowa State University pens, a whole bunch of pens that make me look like I stole pens from a bank, and a whole bunch of pens that make me look like I stole pens from a CHURCH. That would be a bold move, huh?

Oh, wait, new winner: FUNERAL HOME pens. I think I would prefer NOT to see a promotional pen at a funeral home. Plain black businesslike pens would be better, I think, not only for the dignity of it but because I don't want to think about anyone PROMOTING a funeral home. But for my own pen mug, I want the funeral home promotional pen.

Speaking of promotional, I hope to have lots of future experiences to prove me wrong, but at this point I'd have to say there are few things as satisfying as owning things with one's OWN advertising on them. From the expression "Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt" I glean that THE T-SHIRT is a crucial part of fully experiencing an experience. And now I have been there, done that, and paid too much for a t-shirt designed by a total amateur:

I also made a bumper sticker:


(Both screen shots from

Anyway, I fully recommend this. It is EXPENSIVE, but then you have your OWN t-shirt or whatever, with your OWN slogan on it! It is super-fun, and it really is startling to see it---I'm sure Angelina Jolie feels the same way when she sees her billboards. And you can do many, many versions as you try to figure out what looks nice.

AND, Zazzle has sales pretty often: I got the shirt when they were doing a deal where it was a 4-hour 50% off shirts sale, so it was still pretty expensive but easier to deal with. If you register, they'll send you emails about the sales. And heavens, NO, they have not asked me to write this or paid me to talk about it or given me anything for free or ANYTHING---if they had, this would be over on the reviews blog.

September 22, 2010

Pee of Various Kinds

Paul and I had one of our very rare fights last night (I clean when I'm mad, so probably Paul has mixed feelings about our fights). Then this morning I woke up queasy and feeling like I was fizzing with Teh Krazy, and then I thought, "Huh, this is just how I felt when...." And then I took a pregnancy test (I will keep these things on hand until long after menopause: it is well worth 80 cents for peace of mind), and it's negative, so I guess I'm just a regular mess, or possible a PMesS. So anyway then I shopped for small expensive handbags I have no intention of buying.


Mouse is still peeing out of her box about once per day. Two nights ago I woke up at 4:00 in the morning and noticed her doing some pre-pee prowling on our bed, so I took her down to the basement and stood there in my bare feet in the middle of the night, putting her in her litter box again and again, petting her and speaking soothingly. Then I gave up, and she followed me back to bed and peed on Paul.

So last night Paul and I switched sides of the bed, and have you ever tried to do that? It seems really weird. I kept waking up feeling like everything was all strange, and now the lamp is on my side. Anyway, I was wondering if Mouse was peeing ON PAUL or if she was peeing on that side of the BED, but last night's test was a bust because she sniffed around for awhile and then went out to the hallway and peed on a pair of pants one of the kids left there.

Could we get a little fresh breeze in here kthanx

On one hand I'm reaching my limit, and on the other hand "reaching my limit" doesn't really mean anything because I don't want to put her to sleep and that's pretty much the only option sitting around at the limit. If she had other issues I would consider it, but she's a very good cat. She's been a very good cat for 16 years. I don't want to stop the CAT, I just want to stop the PEEING. We've talked about it with the vet several times now, and she's been tested but she's fine, and we got her a Feliway-knock-off collar, and we've gotten multiple litter boxes, and we've put a box aside for her in a secluded place, and we've put a box on the main floor in case she's having trouble with the stairs to the basement, and she seems accustomed to the new cats now---and sometimes things seem better and then they seem not-better again. And she IS peeing MOST of the time in the box (or, as Paul says darkly, "or somewhere else we haven't found yet"). We have a vinyl mattress cover on our bed, which I hate, and we've taken our down blanket and our quilt off and replaced them with cheap blankets that are easier to wash cat pee out of.

Anyway. I guess I don't have any point to that. Just venting/complaining. Mouse goes back to the vet in November for blood tests anyway, so that's another chance for them to find something. The vet also mentioned cat prozac, except Mouse doesn't seem UPSET or anything now. She just keeps peeing on our stuff. And maybe she's just kind of old and needs a cat-sized Depends.


I read The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman and liked it. I feel very invested in her getting back together with Jimmy Kimmel. I mean, assuming they'd be happy together---I don't mean they have to get together if they had a bad relationship. But it SEEMED good, didn't it? And I felt sad when they broke up, and I'd feel happy if they got back together and were happy and had babies if they wanted them and so forth.

September 20, 2010

Playdate Report, and Guys Who Have Girl Hair

The playdate went as well as could be expected. Which for a non-socially-anxious person would probably be "It was AWESOME! We got along GREAT! I like the mom AND the kids, HALLELUJAH!!!"

I do like the mom. She's ten years younger than me, which. I mean. Some of YOU are ten years younger than me and I don't have any trouble thinking of you as peers, but it's the flip side of the problem I more often have, which is when moms are ten years older than me. Ten years is a GAP. There are times I feel it more than others. This time I didn't feel it much, but I wondered if SHE did. Her husband is three years older than her, but he's still seven years younger than me.

But I like her. She swore appropriately and cheerfully several times when the kids were out of earshot, but then creatively non-swore ("That'll really sssss" for "suck") when they were nearby. She was interested in talking at least for awhile about baby names. From what I could tell in an hour and a half, her parenting doesn't clash with mine. She's comfortable and social, which can be helpful: she assumes there's no awkwardness, which can make me less awkward in response.

The kids got along, although Elizabeth and the other girl excluded Edward, which left Edward crying in the sand, which was a little embarrassing and also hard to know how to handle. But that went okay. In fact, the only real issue was that I got sand on my feet and had to chop off my feet because OMG SAND ON MY FEET AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Speaking of awkward, after Henry and I dropped the twins off at kindergarten (both still sandy from their park time in the morning), we went to the music store to buy a music book for William, who has decided to take clarinet (it doesn't seem like two whole years since Rob chose clarinet, but here we are). And the guy who owns the store came over to help us, and Henry said, "Hey, that guy has girl hair!"

So I was immediately torn: do I act like it's no big deal, or do I die outwardly as well as inwardly? I went with Option A, saying absently, "LONG hair, Henry, yes." And the guy said to Henry, "Yep. How're ya?" Then the guy went into another room, so while the cashier was ringing up our purchase I lectured Henry about how some girls have short hair but it's NOT BOY HAIR IT'S SHORT HAIR, and some boys have long hair but it's NOT GIRL HAIR IT'S LONG HAIR, with the intention that the cashier would overhear and perhaps report to the guy that "the mom was really embarrassed and also not at all the type of person who would refer to long-haired guys as 'looking like girls'." She kept chuckling, so I thought to myself "Success!"

Then as we left the store, Henry saw the guy again and said, "Hey, there's that guy with girl hair!" Oh god. I mean, what is the right thing to do in this situation? Should I apologize to the guy, possibly making it into a big deal rather than a nothing deal? Should I act exasperated and say "GEEZ, Henry!"? Should I say, "Henry, dude, are you kidding me? that is AWESOME ROCK HAIR." And I ask this knowing YOU know I can't go back in time and do it over and can only do what I DID do which is to say "Henry" in a reproving tone of voice (with just a TOUCH of "Geez!") and continue to take him out to the car, where I delivered the lecture a second time, adding a chapter about how it is rude to comment loudly about other people's appearances, er yes, unless of course it is Mommy saying "Oh, I LOVE your shirt!" or whatever, so in fact why don't you just play it safe and not say ANYTHING AT ALL until you come of age?

Social Anxiety + Playdate

It seems to me (and it makes sense to me) that bloggers talk more often than other groups of people about social anxieties. So much, in fact, that I'm a little tired both of reading about it and of writing about it. BUT: it comes up so often, and affects so many areas of life, it's not so much "writing about social anxiety x 5" as it is "writing about how social anxiety is screwing up my ability to call a doctor who could help with social anxiety x 1" plus "writing about how social anxiety is complicating the decision of whether or not to attend BlogHer x 1" plus "writing about..." and so on.

Today it's "writing about how social anxiety is complicating my children's social lives x 1". Elizabeth is in kindergarten, and she's socially comfortable at least for now. And she BADLY wanted a playdate with another little girl she knows and likes. And I REALLY DON'T WANT TO ARRANGE IT, NOR DO I WANT TO PARTICIPATE. I mean, REALLY don't---as in, I would rather let a spider walk on my hand. BUT: I am aware that one of my responsibilities as a parent is to help my children arrange things they're not able to arrange for themselves, especially when those things are actively good for them. And so. I waited for a brave moment and I pounced on it.

It helped x 1,000,000 that I had the other little girl's parents' email address from the class list: instead of Phone Hurdle plus Playdate Hurdle, it's only a Playdate Hurdle. But this morning is the playdate, and I would rather be doing almost anything else. Going to the grocery store with three children? SURE! And they can't sit in the cart? NO PROBLEM! And they'll drink coffee first? WHY NOT! And a spider will walk over my hands while I'm shopping? NO BIG!

It won't be as bad as I think. I might even enjoy parts of it. And certainly the relief when it's over and we're driving home will be glorious, and I'll be so glad I did it for Elizabeth's sake. And then she will want me to arrange another one.

September 18, 2010

Links and Etc.

You know what you can do, if your printer is out of paper but you don't feel like putting in more right now because you'd have to move a bunch of stuff out of the way of the paper drawer first, but the "paper" light keeps BLINKING and BLINKING? Hit the "job cancel" button right near that blinking light. Possibly this will work for you, too, and ideally it will not be the case that someone else in your family got halfway through a print job and didn't notice and you just canceled it for them. Because ANOTHER thing you could have done would have been to put a sheet of paper in the manual feed, just to get it over with and also not lose the print job, and someone might point this out to you in an irritable tone of voice.


I empathize SO HARD with Marie Green's post State of the State, about what it feels like to have a difference of opinion with a spouse about a desperately-wanted baby.


Happy cat news: the vet said that the most we should hope for at Benchley's follow-up appointment today was that his eye was not getting WORSE---but as it turns out, it's even looking BETTER. He's lucky to be a young and healthy cat, but also he's just plain lucky his body happens to be working for him on this. I won't detail some of the gross things the vet said could happen with eye injuries, but suffice it to say I came away from that discussion feeling like bodies were fragile and random places where the body's own immune system could end up being a bigger problem than the original problem. Benchley goes back again in a week, but the vet said she feels very encouraged we'll see good results and won't have to call in The Cat Ophthalmologist. Did you know there were ophthalmologists for cats? You do now.


I got a coffee at Dunkin' Donuts this morning, and every time I get coffee at a restaurant I realize how weak I make my coffee at home. Because WOOOOOOOOO.


Review blog business:

ABC "No Ordinary Family" through September 28---leave comment saying what superpowers you'd hand out to the members of your family. (I wanted to be a polyglot.)

8th Continent Soy Milk through September 30 for $100 Visa gift card and free soy milk, among other little tokens such as a complete adventure package; leave comment about one of your "FEEL like a bad parent (but not ACTUALLY a bad parent)" moments. Or if you haven't had any slip-ups (YET), say which video is your favorite: the one where a child repeatedly says "d*ckhead" or the one where a child gets knocked unconscious with a piñata bat.

Also there's the sixth of twelve Kellogg's posts, through September 20th, still for a $100 Visa gift card, this time a comment about school-day breakfasts or about transitioning from summer schedule to school-year schedule.

And the Juicy Juice sweepstakes is still on through September 30th---$100 Visa gift card and a juice prize pack; leave a comment about your favorite juice.

September 17, 2010

Gifts for a Sick Friend

My cousin Lee writes:
I have a good friend from college who has had a bone cancer disease and it is getting the best of her now. her entire face from the nose down had to be basically taken apart to get the cancer out of the jaw bone.

She only drinks liquids now...and can't smell very well.

So here's my question for you and possibly for your blog readers if you want to pose it....

I want to send her a care package. Smelly things are is out....

What could I assemble that would bring her joy and happiness?

She loves flowers...but flowers die quickly....I want some things to cheer her up.

and I need help figuring this out.
I'm stumped.

Are you on it for me?

Aw, GEEZ, Lee, this is really SAD! And a little gross BUT MOSTLY SAD.

Flowering plants are good, if you think she'd be up to caring for them. When Henry was born, my parents brought me a gorgeous shiny splendid geranium for my room. Admire:

Also admire little Henry on the bed.
How eensy is he? VERY eensy.

In fact, indulge me for a minute. Look at THIS:

I took this from behind my own head, and it is SO evocative for me. The familiar fabrics of the hospital! The way the bendy, birdlike newborn feels all curled up and rumpled and falling out of his clothes, and the way his entire butt plus both feet fit into one hand. That "Oh my god, you're HERE!!" feeling. The soft, soft newborn hair, and the way it feels during snuffling.

...Where were we? OH YES. Gifts for a friend. So, a big shiny geranium. Or, our supermarket has some really nice Gerbera daisies. I bought one on impulse and finally had to re-pot it because it's getting so big. Cheery, and they seem to do well indoors, or at least mine does. Or one of those cute little tea-rose plants!

Or a small framed picture of flowers might be nice. I've framed greeting cards before, and it doesn't cost much (especially if you find a frame on clearance, and I saw some nice colorful ones on clearance at Target the other day).

Or stationery? I always like pretty stationery.

A paperback, maybe, or a whole bunch of them if your library does cheap book sales like mine does. And those can go book-rate which is pretty cheap, if you send them by themselves.

Oh, a journal!

Or a "learn to" book: I had a lot of fun doing Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered. It comes with the pencils, and you draw in the book itself, so it's like a drawing kit.

Which reminds me of a journal by Sark I FLIPPED over when I was in high school. I'm pretty sure it was this one. I haven't seen it in years so I don't know if it would appeal to adults as well.

Music! A tape of you playing songs she likes?

Okay, next idea. There are sites that offer support to people with illnesses, and what they do is they assign a "mail sender" to each person, or else they post mailing info for all the people and anyone can send them mail. The idea is that getting regular little surprises in the mail (a letter, a postcard, a greeting card, a little gift like soap or a box of tea or stickers, a medium gift like a mug or a hat or stationery or a $5 gift card) is good for morale. I can't remember any of the names of these sites (it seems like all of them involve the word "angel") (oh, here's the one I read about in People awhile back, and here's one for children), but it's the sort of thing you could do for her yourself: a steady stream of small things in the mail might have more impact (on your postage budget, too, unfortunately) than one big package.

Furthermore, you may be able to recruit others to work on this with you. I can't even tell you how much I love buying gifts and mailing them, so I'd LOVE to help---and maybe other bloggers/readers or others of your friends or her friends/relatives would want to help too.

September 16, 2010

Phone Stuff, Cat Stuff

(New post on the review blog: the twins wearing superhero butt-capes.)

This morning I made several phone calls, so this afternoon I'm resting and recovering. I don't know why I put calls off for so long, considering that "suffering from making calls + suffering from anticipating making calls" is so much worse than "suffering from making calls." Actually, I do know: it's that I can do that math, but I still can't make myself make the calls until they've become Very Urgent Indeed and one kind of anxiety finally trumps the other.

You know what would make calling way, way, WAY easier for me? If I could find out ahead of time when there were appointments available. Because "trying to figure out when to make the appointment" WHILE ON THE PHONE is nearly impossible: I'm too nervous and flustered to think straight, and often inadvertently make the appointment for exactly when I absolutely can't be there. This morning I finally made an appointment to get the handle of our minivan replaced (it fell off, like, a year ago), and I made it for a day the kids have no school---not because I love the idea of bringing five kids with me to sit in a waiting room for several hours, but because I seriously couldn't figure out how to fit it with our schedule otherwise and finally just thought, "When COULD it DEFINITELY work, if I don't take SUFFERING into account?"

Our cat Mouse has started peeing on Paul's side of the bed. While he's sleeping in it. This is NOT AT ALL FUNNY.

Also not at all funny is Benchley in his Elizabethan collar:

It's hard to tell, but it ties under his neck in a pretty bonnet-like bow.

The poor kitty has an ulcerated cornea, which the vet said is one of the more painful things a cat can have. He has four kinds of medicine, each of which has to be given to him 1-4 times per day, AND he has to wear the collar, AND he may not go outside. Best case scenario, it will heal beautifully and everything will be fine; worst case, he'll lose the eye after costing us thousands of dollars trying to save it. Most likely is that he'll keep the eye but have a scar that will make his vision worse in that eye to some degree. Probably he'll lose his driver's license.

September 14, 2010

The Thirteenth Floor

Paul and I measure the success of a movie by what occurs to us afterward. Like, even if we were okay with the movie while we were watching it, sometimes as we're processing it later we say, "Hey, wait a minute, THAT detail doesn't make any sense!" And if we do that too many times, it was a bad movie.

On that topic, may I save you the trouble of seeing The Thirteenth Floor? A full HOUR after we were supposed to be asleep, we were still thinking of things to say in the dark about what was annoying. We both agreed that the CONCEPT was a very good one---but we think whoever made the movie screwed it up SO BADLY, we can't believe the actors didn't keep stopping in the middle to say, "Hey, wait...that doesn't make SENSE, though. I mean, right?"

Plus, it was one of those movies that wants you to FULLY UNDERSTAND that it is SCI-FI, so everything is grey and metallic and dark. *Sci.*

Oh, AND, the script! OMG! We were seriously saying parts of it right along with the actors, and other parts were laughably awful in non-predictable ways so that both of us would cringe and groan as if injured. The detective's lines were the worst: he was like someone who hadn't seen very many detective movies, trying to improvise pretending to be a detective.

And why would he believe...? And why would she have to...? And why go to all that trouble when they could just...? And why would he say...? And once his alibi was removed, wouldn't he have to go back to jail? And couldn't they set it up to happen while the other person was sleeping? And "5'8" and blond" is an insufficient description for finding someone. And why wouldn't they ALSO use that technology to...? And seriously, how would THAT work? And couldn't we have found actors who were a little easier to recognize? And if that little detail about switching were true, it would be happening pretty regularly, not just when plottily convenient. And then the icing on the cake: oh, I see, the THIRTEENTH floor. Because....wait, why, again, other than that it sounds a little creepy?

It was like someone came up with a really awesome idea (by reading it in a book, according to Wikipedia), but then failed the crucial step of thinking, "If this were really true, how would things work?" The whole movie was merely a set-up for Teh Big Reveal, rather than being even an ATTEMPT to approximate what life would be like in circumstances where Teh Big Reveal was as-yet-unrevealed.

September 12, 2010

Alarms; Rehashings; Candy Bar Complaints

With my weird schedule right now (three schoolbuses to remember to catch/meet), I've been searching for a timer I could set to go off at the same times each day. I looked at medication timers, and they did look good but most had features I didn't need and cost more than I wanted to spend, so then I'd think, "Meh, this is silly, I guess I can just remember." But THEN, yesterday at Target I got William a Timex watch on 75% off, and I was reading the instructions to set the time and I saw that his watch can be set to beep at certain times each day, and THEN I realized his watch is the same brand as mine, so maybe...? And sure enough! Not only can I make my watch beep three different times a day, it even let me choose "weekdays" so it won't beep at me on weekends. I love when things work out like this.


I am in one of those dumb fits where I'm going over old conversations in my mind and doing them differently---suggesting, for example, that someone take a transcript of our conversation to his/her psychiatrist to see if the psychiatrist agrees with me that it's time for him/her to get a big medication adjustment. I also had a long mental argument with a SPAMMER. And I delivered an entire mental SEMINAR on why it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of to say a stay-at-home parent doesn't own an equal share of the household income. And I keep catching myself and telling myself to quit it, but then the next time my mind drifts I'm doing it again. This usually lasts a day or two. Perhaps you picked up on that tone in my post yesterday: touchy and responding to criticisms that haven't happened yet? Yeah. I am a joy to be around when I'm in one of these fits. Speaking of consulting psychiatrists.


I had a DREAM about Hershey Almond and Toffee Symphony bars, so I bought one yesterday and...disappointing. First of all, they used to be 8 ounces and now they're 4.25 ounces and cost MORE than when they were 8 ounces. ( <----Old-person-style complaining, but GEEZ, it's not like it's been GENERATIONS.) But the bigger problem is that they used to have whole almonds and big chunks of almonds, but now they have an even layer of tiny almond and toffee crumbs throughout. One of the joys of that candy bar used to be that each bite was different: sometimes a big almond bite, sometimes plain chocolate, sometimes chocolate and toffee. But now every bite is the same, and there's too much toffee and not enough almond, and it's all little CRUMBS so there's no texture variation and I can't even tell if I'm crunching almond or toffee or both. The proportions are all off. It's all wrong!

September 11, 2010

Review Blog Business

As I've mentioned before and will mention again, part of my deal with my review-blogging deal is that I need to mention those review posts on this blog. And normally I try to get this over with quickly for the benefit of those of you who would really rather NOT have review-blog reminders and who are in fact thinking, "You know, if I wanted to read your review blog I WOULD ALREADY BE READING IT," but I do have one post I would want to bring your attention to anyway, even if I didn't have to. It's a post I've been composing in my head for months or possibly years now, about how one of my pet peeves is when women call themselves "bad moms" for small, unintentional mistakes. But it doesn't really go over well around here when I talk about my pet peeves, I find, so I kept not writing and posting it---because another of my pet peeves is getting scolded by a commenter for not being exactly how they imagined me.

But then I got a review assignment for a post about how even good moms make mistakes, and after Paul fell asleep I got up and finally wrote the post I'd wanted to write. So here it is, my pet peeve post, and if you tend to get all prickly when I talk about things that bug me, you don't have to follow the link at all! Everyone wins.

Also there's the fifth of twelve Kellogg's posts, through September 13th, this time about favorite things you did this summer. And if those things involve breakfast, then Kellogg's should have hired you instead of me.

Juicy Juice sweepstakes is also on through September 30th.

September 10, 2010

Jam Jars

Some of you are going to think I'm a PRIME IDIENT, but I am not worried, because I am comforted by the belief that others of you will be in the SAME BOAT: I have only JUST REALIZED, in my mid-thirties, that when people give me homemade jam THEY WOULD LIKE THE EMPTY JAR BACK. It never occurred to me! Not once!

It's not that I'm inconsiderate, or a selfish jar-hoarder, or that I don't care about the other person's jar situation. No! Not at all! It's that when I buy jam at the store I recycle the jar, I don't bring it back to the store. The jar is TRASH to GET RID OF. It is a CONTAINER. This is the template for all jam situations.

Now that I have made jam myself, I see things anew. The jars! They need to go BACK to the person who made the jam! So that the person can put more jam in! Because the cost of the jars is one of the reasons jam-making barely makes sense, but the REUSABILITY of the jars is why in the long run it DOES make sense. BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE THE JARS! The jar is part of the process! It must not be disposed of!

Fortunately my friends and family are not of the jam-making persuasion, so I don't have to look back wincingly over a long history of carelessly-tossed-out jars from homemade jam. But still! I quake! Because I WOULD HAVE carelessly tossed out the jar, if someone had given me jam! Not because I didn't care, but because a non-jam-maker wouldn't KNOW! How could they?

September 9, 2010


Today I was complaining on Twitter about a loud neighbor child who while playing outside CONSISTENTLY and PERSISTENTLY makes a loud, grating, "motor" sound (EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!) that can't be good either for his throat or my ears, and then I heard a screech of tires and an unmistakable sound of 1.5 tons of metal hitting another 1.5 tons of metal, and then the sound of a woman crying out. And there is NO connection here to the child making the grating sound, except that I was complaining about him shortly before it happened: he was neither injured nor involved, and in fact had gone inside already. But _I_ was rocketing out of my chair and into the yard within seconds (I HOPE it was within seconds, and that I didn't sit there insensate for awhile before responding), calling out to anyone I saw, "Is anyone hurt?" "Has anyone called 911?" And I don't know why I did that, because no one can provide answers to that kind of question 10 seconds after a crash and/or BEFORE the point at which someone should be dialing 911. After my first "I don't know!" answer, I ran back into my house and called 911 and cursed the gods who gave me a voice that shakes so hard in times like this. My goal is to avoid the throat-clamped feeling of tears, or at least to plow through them and speak anyway. Even if they TRANSFER me and make me say it AGAIN, which is what they did.

And here is what I've noticed: that you can live a mile and a half from the nearest emergency response station, and it can still take a full year to hear sirens. You can wait, and wait, and wait, and still there is a car way down off the road in a ditch and another car through the neighbor's fence and into the neighbor's yard, and nothing is HAPPENING, and traffic is backing up and still no one is there. And yet, 45 minutes later and the ambulances have left and the cars have been towed and the police officers who were directing traffic have gotten back in their cars and driven off. And how can that be, when a year passed before they arrived?

Well. Clearly they need to put updates in the local paper, because NO I don't know what happened, and I couldn't figure it out from the position of the cars. One woman was taken away with her arm in a sling, and that was from the car that looked fine. The other car had a building and an ambulance between it and me, but after the passenger or passengers had been removed and the tow truck was hauling it up out of the ditch, I could see the entire front part was crumpled, with part of it dangling off, and both airbags were in the front seats. Which is as it should be: air bags should deploy, the front should crumple to absorb the impact before the impact reaches anything made of flesh and bones.

But I couldn't SEE much out my window. I saw people coming to my neighbors' house and getting paper towels and heading back to the car that was in the ditch. I heard a bystander say "...wasn't belted in..." I saw emergency personnel standing around looking casual. The ambulances didn't have sirens on when they left. My neighbor started sweeping up the mess in her yard. Most of these things point to everything being okay---just a scary thing that happened and then everything started up again and turned into insurance claims.

Did I ever tell you about the accident I was in when I was 17? I was driving a pick-up truck home from a used book store with my best friend, and I was fiddling with the radio, and I dipped onto the soft shoulder and overreacted, spinning the wheel way too hard back onto the road. And we hit a tree, and we hit it roof-first and in the opposite direction of the one in which we'd been traveling, and the rear-view mirror ended up between our heads. It seemed to me that the ambulance arrived seconds later, and when they asked me if I'd hit my head, I said no, but it took many hair-washings to get all the windshield glass out of the lump on my head. And when we were in the ambulance, the ambulance guy said to me, "Man, when we saw the truck, we didn't expect to find...but there you were, grinning!"

September 7, 2010

SparkPeople, Facebook, and an Irritating Bill

I'm doing a little back-to-basics-ing this week, which for me means trying to figure out my SparkPeople login information so I can do soul-crushing things such as measure a tablespoon of milk for my coffee and then record it. But, you know how after you've been on a diet Heathy! Eating! Plan! for awhile you're an expert at estimating quantities and mentally tallying points and so forth? And also you get all Aware of what you're eating, and you start making little lightning-fast calculations of Worth It Or Not, as opposed to only making calculations about Yummy Or Not? And it gets all automatic so then you don't have to spend a huge chunk of time every day thinking about what you eat and how many calories it has, SPEAKING OF SOUL-CRUSHING? Or maybe I should be saying "I" instead of "you"? So for me it's worth the practice to get back in that habit in order to ultimately reduce time spent on such a hobby.


Now. Listen. Privacy settings on Facebook are RAD and IMPORTANT. But some people are taking it TOO FAR. If I search for a cute guy from high school, and the COMPLETE TOTAL of what he's allowing to sneak through the privacy settings is his name, the fact that he is male, and a picture of a baby, how can I tell if that's the right person to try to snoop? MINIMUM, I need a photo to squint at and try to figure out if that could be him or not.


I am so annoyed EVERY MONTH by one of our bills, which says "Non-receipt of bill is not an excuse for failure to pay." O RLY? It seems like a pretty good excuse actually. I feel like writing on the payment slip "Non-receipt of payment is not an excuse for failure to credit account."

September 4, 2010

Weekend Links

I saw on Want Not that St. Jude's is having a clearance sale. And I love clearance sales, and St. Jude's is my favorite charity, so you BET I went over there. I bought a bee costume for Henry for $5, and a t-shirt for myself for $10, and several t-shirts for the kids for $3.99 each. I was worried the shipping would be killer but it was $7.50 which isn't too bad.


I can't explain why we like this video so much, but we just do (totally safe for kids):

A bee! A bee a bee a bee!


Review blog reminders:

1. Kellogg's Week Four, $100 gift card prize, leave comment about what you eat for breakfast when you're in a hurry.

2. Juicy Juice, $100 gift card plus juice basket prize, leave comment about favorite kind of juice.


Our little grey fish died. I was sadder than I would have expected, considering we'd had him/her less than a week and he/she was, you know, a goldfish. He/she was so frisky and perky! And at first we didn't realize he/she was dead, because of the currents caused by the filter, and coming to a gradual realization was additionally sad. This weekend we'll take a sample of water to the pet store for analysis and see what they say about it. My guess is that they'll say, "Here, have another 13-cent fish."


A recent favorite post: Someone Who Reads This by Princess Nebraska.


Kitten picture:

We may have named her Chicken Feather (Mrs.), but we still call her The Kitten so maybe C.F. isn't her name.

September 3, 2010

Just You and Me, Buddy

After Henry and I drop the twins off at kindergarten, we walk toward our car and I say to him, "Just you and me, buddy"---which is exactly what my mom used to say to my little brother after I'd left for school. Then Henry and I go to the grocery store to get ice cream, or we go to the library, or we go home and read books, and the whole time he TALKS and TALKS and TALKS---and instead of saying, "Just a minute, Henry" or "It's someone else's turn to talk now, Henry" or "Henry, you're INTERRUPTING," I say, "Why?" and "Oh, do you?" and "What would you like to do next?" and "Hey, do you want to go outside with me and see how the sunflowers are doing?"

There are disadvantages to being the youngest (handmedown EVERYTHING, and everyone perpetually thinks of you as a total baby), but there are advantages too. In many ways it's like being the firstborn, except you get to have your turn at being Only when you're old enough to appreciate it. Henry gets to be the Only for 2 hours a day this year, and next year it'll be more like 6 hours a day, unless I can't face that kind of quality time let him be in preschool for half of it. And when everyone else strikes out on their own, he'll get the full sunshine of his parents' attention---which he may value considerably less when he's 16 and wishes NO ONE would pay attention to what he's up to (*pause to kiss him and squeeze him because NO, HE CANNOT EVER BE 16, SORRY NO*).

Plus, he gets his "only child" treatment when his siblings are aware he's getting it, which is valuable currency, especially in a large family. If a sixth grader thinks YOU'RE lucky? That is GOOD STUFF.

It's good for me, too. It's like the mirror image of my experience with my firstborn. When it was just me and Rob, I thought of him as a big kid; when it's just me and Henry, I think of him as my baby. "Just me and Rob" was business as usual; "just me and Henry" is a break from the usual. Not a BREAK-break in the "lunch break" or "taking a break" sense, I hasten to clarify, since in many ways I find it more difficult to have "just one" than to have the entire roiling mass---but a break FROM THE USUAL, the way doing a different job at work is a break from the usual. And it IS a break from the usual "several people talking at the same time ALL THE TIME" thing, and from the "so many people! wanting so many things from me! all at once!" thing. It's nice to be able to FOCUS on ONE THING---even if that one thing talks incessantly.

Looking at YOU, Henry

September 1, 2010

School ACK

Have you been wondering where I've been? (Just say yes. It's kinder.) Our school schedule is a little on the GRUELING side. Anticipating this schedule (and how it will worsen) may be what has caused my gentle shift into a stage of not really wanting any more children.

First child catches the bus just before 7:00 a.m. Second child catches a different bus at a different stop at just after 8:00 a.m. Twins get driven to kindergarten, where there is no parking lot and so parents must park wherever they can find it (hint: HARD TO FIND and MOSTLY PARALLEL) and then walk the children to school---rain or shine, heatwave or blizzard---and wait outside the door until a teacher comes out to get the children. We got a letter from the school saying they realize this is tough, especially for parents with smaller children who must come along, but that we should suck it up. (Man, I would pay CASH MONEY for a school memo to actually say it like that instead of waffling around. We all know they MEAN "suck it up.")

Then I have just over two hours with Henry before children start arriving home. First child home at around 2:30. Second child and twins home at about 3:45. Homework everywhere! Paperwork everywhere! Lunch boxes and backpacks everywhere!



This will soon be a well-worn routine, with all of us knowing what's what.

And in the meantime, Henry would like me to know that he'll be happy to keep me busy.

After I post this, he's going to have to get the rest of it shaved off to match.