Friday, November 30, 2007

Notes to Myself

Things I Used To Worry About When I First Had Kids, But Don't Have The Energy To Care About Anymore:

1. Being fair - life's not fair, and if they can learn that lesson early in life, well, that puts them that much ahead of the game. Besides, it's fun to pretend you like one of them better - it drives them crazy. My kids actually argue among themselves over whom I like best. Which is sort of weird, come to think of it.

2. Anything any "expert" says about childrearing - unless, of course, that particular expert happens to have raised 6 or more children without going insane in the process.

3. What my children think about me - it really doesn't matter, because no matter how wonderful I am to them, they're still going to hate me when they are adolescents.

4. Providing expensive toys that "do" things - my kids prefer empty shoeboxes, cartons of craft sticks, duct tape, and garbage bags, even when presented with spectacular alternatives.

5. Going on fancy vacations (fancy, as in anything over, say, 150 dollars) - kids whine no matter where you take them; but their whining irritates you more if you've plunked down a large wad of dough that should have gone into your retirement fund in order to show them a good time. You do realize, don't you, that you can take them on a fancy tour of the European continent, but what they'll remember fondly are mundane things like the ice machines in the hotel corridors? Hey, we've got ice at home, okay?


Things I Worry About Now:

1. One of my kids growing up to be a psychopathic ax-murderer (and the neighbors shaking their heads and saying, "It must have been the homeschooling.").

2. My children letting their kids watch TV non-stop until their little brains melt, all because they didn't get to watch it when they were young.

3. One of my kids marrying a total loser, but not realizing it until they have 3 kids together and she/he leaves him/her and I end up playing host/babysitter to 3 grandkids and a single parent.

4. Any of my children growing up to be the sort of skank who would ever use this website.


And One Thing I Definitely Have To Live Long Enough For:

1. Anna's having a 13-year-old daughter of her own. 30 years may be a long time to wait for an apology, but it'll be worth it.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friends Don't Let Friends Knit....

I am caught in a time warp. Because I haven't seen many movies since I started on this child-raising thing 16 years ago (lack of money, lack of time), my points of reference for actors and actresses are, well, a little off. So when Derfwad Manor posted fairly recent pictures of Jessica Lange and Ellen Barkin, I thought she was playing a cruel joke. I remember the fresh-faced Jessica from Tootsie. Ellen, girlfriend, in my heart you're still the young wife in Diner. But here I am looking at pictures of (not very gracefully) aging women. I feel like Rip van Winkle, waking up after 20 years. Ah, the ravages of time.

Giddy with triumph over our potty training success yesterday, I neglected to stick a diaper on Susie when she fell asleep in my bed last night. So, when I went up to go to sleep, I had to strip the baby and the bed (I love doing this at midnight). Susie slept through all of this. The whole episode agitated me a bit, so I went back downstairs to get the pee smell out of my nostrils and edit some more photos. I went to bed at 1 AM. Which explains why I passed out while I was putting Susie to bed (with a diaper) this evening. And missed half of my weekly Knit Night.

Which is all right, because I hate knitting. I invested so much time in one stupid sock, and it persisted in getting bigger and bigger (not in a good way) as I knit it. I kept telling myself that it would still be all right, that it wasn't that outsized; but tonight the scales fell from my eyes (what does that mean, anyway?) when another knitter looked at it and suggested, not unkindly, that maybe I could hang it from the fireplace on Christmas Eve. It's that big. I think you could fit a small laptop in it. Or you could have, but not anymore. Because now it is just a big pile of yarn sitting in the middle of my dining room table. Waiting to be made into a smaller sock. Or maybe a sweater, if I can find a pattern simple enough. Or maybe I should just cut it all up into tiny little bits to punish it for wasting hours of my life.

I take failure sort of personally, I guess.

Time is running out....gotta post or the NaBloPoMo monster will get me.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Toddler Tricks and Money Mayhem

Susie (my 2-year-old) has been on the phone a lot lately. She walks around cradling a plastic banana between her shoulder and her face and saying, "Is your mommy home?" and "Uh-huh. Hmmm. Uh-huh." I've asked her who she's talking to, but she doesn't seem to hear me. Probably because she has a banana in her ear.

Ba-da-bum.

Maybe she was talking to a toilet-training hotline, because yesterday - miracle of miracles - she walked up to me and said those 3 words every mother wants to hear: "Wanna go potty." So I sat her on the toilet, not expecting her to actually use the darn thing, when what to my wondering ear did appear but a tinkling like bells on the harness of 8 tiny reindeer.

Sorry, 'tis the season...I'll try not to let that happen again.

Yes, she actually peed in the potty. I happened to be on the banana, I mean phone, with Larry at the time, so I was shrieking into the receiver, "She did it! Did you hear her tinkling? She did it!" Have I mentioned that he works in a very centrally located cubicle? So now his colleagues think (if they didn't already) that 6 kids may be a little too much for any one woman to take.

Larry and I are trying to pick out a paint color for the living room. I'm thinking we may need to hire a mediator. What with our divergent tastes in home decor and the fact that there are approximately 14 billion different shades of gray available at our local paint store, we'll probably get this place painted, oh, maybe 9 years from now. Or perhaps we won't bother. I mean, we've got lots of different shades of gray smeared all over the living room walls at this point anyway. We could leave it and go for the variegated look. Like multi-colored yarn. I bet I'd be the first knitter to paint her walls to look like her favorite skein. Take that, all you knitting bloggers!

We gave up today and agreed to pay a friendly service technician lots of money to explain to us how our gas fireplaces work. It's galling. Add to that that we brought the second car in for an oil change today and ended up paying the garage almost 500 dollars (that's on top of the 1000 dollars from yesterday), and Christmas is looking less and less merry. I mean, for us. There's a bunch of mechanics who are gonna have a pretty good time, though.

Anna is speaking to me again. I have no idea why.

Larry came home for dinner and then went back to work. Good. I didn't want to see him anyway. Now I can waste the entire evening on the computer and he won't even know. I do still have about 1500 photos to edit. And a photo calendar to put together. I don't know what the heck I did with my time before we went digital. Sleep, maybe?

Sleeping is a good idea. Maybe I'll just go to bed early. (And you know you're middle-aged when that seems like the best way to spend a free evening.) G'night, all!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blogrolls and Banality

I'd like to draw everyone's attention to the blogroll over there to the left. It's short, because I don't do that "You blogroll me, I'll blogroll you" stuff. I read other blogs (lots of other blogs - this whole blog thing is slowly taking over my life, but let's not go into that), because I like them or the person writing them; but, in an effort to keep the blogroll useful, I try to keep it short. Today I couldn't resist adding a new member - finslippy. I have no idea what that means, but she is breathtakingly, seemingly effortlessly funny. Enough so that I briefly considered throwing out my keyboard and never attempting to be even mildly amusing again.

But, I came to my senses. Some of us need to be willing to be second-rate. It makes everyone else feel good about themselves.

Anna hates me again (don't you love roller coaster rides?). I mean, it's been over 24 hours since I've done something for her, which is an almost intolerable situation to her befuddled teenage brain. She also hates David. He was standing in her general vicinity today, which annoyed her greatly.

She hated him when he was born, too. I remember holding him in my arms one day and Anna saying, "I hope you drop that baby and break his head." We used to regale her with that funny anecdote from time to time after she turned into a sweet little girl who wouldn't dream of saying anything like that about her little brother. But, nowadays, the story seems just a tad too realistic to be amusing.

Susie spent over an hour screaming this afternoon because she needed a nap and I wouldn't give her one because then she wouldn't go to sleep in the evening and I would start hating my life. Tolerating tantrums is exhausting. But I prefer 2-year-old tantrums to 14-year-old ones.

Truth? You want the truth? I wouldn't be posting today if it weren't that NaBloPoMo made me. Nothing happened today. Larry took the car to the garage, so we couldn't even go out. It ended up costing us a thousand dollars to get it back, so now I can't even afford to go out.

In my attempt to ingest as many carb goodies as possible before I head back to Weight Watchers in January, I baked bread this afternoon and I let David make cookies; that was probably good for another pound or two. My jeans finally arrived from Lands End, but I'm scared to try them on, as they probably won't be quite, um, roomy enough at this point.

I got stuck doing all the dishes tonight. I think we broke a family record by using almost all the pots and pans today. I'm talking 3 cookie sheets, 3 mixing bowls, 6-qt pot, 12-qt pot, 3-qt steamer, square pyrex pan, and the colander. Oh, and 4 loaf pans. The pile in the sink when I came downstairs after the meal was almost breathtaking. You would think that after 16 years I wouldn't find this situation that remarkable, but I guess my youthful capacity for wonder remains undiminished.



Minutiae, folks, that's all you're getting here tonight - the stultifying minutiae of an average suburban mom's life. Scary, isn't it? Maybe the educational powers that be should use this blog in high school sex ed classes as a powerful motivator to use birth control. I can see the poster now: "Do You Want Your Life to Turn Out as Banal as This?" or "Condoms Can Prevent Things Even Scarier Than STD's."

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Happiness Is Not A Warm Teenager

I would like to draw everyone's attention to this article in the New York Times, which discusses happiness levels in the general US population. My favorite line therein is "People who live with teenagers are the unhappiest of all."

Thank you. I'd suspected as much, but it feels good to have some official statistics to back me up. Now excuse me while I go take another Valium.

I've sorted out all the Christmas presents I scooped up at Michael's, just to make sure I hadn't made a mistake; but, no, I had just the right number for each kid. I thought I was spending an average of 15 dollars on each kid, but it looks to be closer to 25 dollars a person when all is said and done. Which is way too high, but the hell with it. Call me a spendthrift.

Larry is offering to take me out tonight, which is nice considering I've been spending all his money. Meaning, I had to take Anna to Kohl's again today. She was fairly exuding tolerance, but you could tell she was thinking, "If only I could drive myself, I could dump this stupid old lady."

Of course, if I could manage to get a real job that pays real money, we could afford to hire someone else to do all the stuff I've been doing around here for free, like chauffering a teenage girl with a lousy attitude to the clothing stores. Then again, with a real job, I might have to deal with super-annoying people all day who aren't even related to me, and that might put me over the edge. So I'll stick with being a kept woman for now, thanks.

My boss wants the computer. And I need to go to bed in order to get up on time to go for the walk my fiendish neighbor insists on dragging me on. And I'm too tired to fix that last sentence. Good night!

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shopping Madness

I am totally defeated by this Christmas shopping thing. Generally, we get each kid a "big" gift - meaning, one that they would really like - yet inexpensive (for the younger ones, we rarely spend more than 10 dollars, usually much less; the 2 older ones get 25-dollar gift cards). But the kids like to open a lot of presents; so I go out and buy a whole pile of little tzotchkes for a buck or two each, and the kids have fun "shopping" in my bedroom for all their siblings. (And given the sheer number of presents this type of gift-giving generates, you've got a recipe for massive confusion on my part).

All of which is my convoluted way of explaining why I've spent over a hundred dollars on rather unimpressive presents for 6 kids. I mean, I could have bought something really nice for that sort of money. Sock yarn, electronics, kitchen tools.... the list is endless. Instead, all I have is a big pile of crap. Of course, the good thing about crap is, it tends to break just about the time the kids are getting tired of it. A mother's dream...

But it still bugs me, spending all that money on...well...nothing.

Anyone else feeling like NaBloPoMo has turned November into a very long month? Larry wants to know why I'm sitting up so late. When I tell him I have to get my daily post done, he looks at me funny. "You're not getting paid for this, you know. You don't have to post." He doesn't understand - it's the peer pressure. Besides, everyone needs a goal; and NaBloPoMo sure beats my default goal of seeing how much Christmas candy I can consume between now and New Year's. So, in the interest of being able to fit into my new jeans, I am going to persevere with this unremunerative idiocy.

Besides, I can't let Barb beat me.

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I'm Dreaming of a Fat Christmas

Surprisingly, Larry did not attempt any home improvement projects today. Instead, he took the youngest four to our town's holiday parade, despite frigid temperatures and a biting wind. A good time was had by all. Well, at least by the kids. And we ate turkey. And apple pie. And stuffing. And I wanted vanilla ice cream again, but no one got me any.

Last night I dreamed that I suddenly realized I had gained 80 pounds (which is a fairly significant weight gain for a person under 5 feet tall, let me add). Larry was saying, "I told you you were eating too much." And I kept insisting, "It can't be. My jeans still snap shut."

Do guys have dreams like that? I don't think so.

I made Larry read the Best Buy circular today, just to get him up to speed on what's current in the electronic world. Why? Because when I mentioned that the hot present for this Christmas is Wii (and please raise your hands if you remember when the hot presents were Cabbage Patch Dolls, and people were clubbing each other over the head to get their hands on one) - anyway, when I told him this fact, he looked puzzled; so I asked him if he knew what Wii is, and he said, rather desperately,"Um, that new version of Atari?"

Atari - sort of cute, isn't it? In a totally clueless sort of way? And he thinks I'm out of it.

It's my bedtime. I need to go out tomorrow and find some cheap toys that aren't made in China. Although I could just buy the cheap Chinese ones and tell the kids not to put them in their mouths. Sort of a Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest experiment, you know?

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Fall Festivities

[Welcome, visitors from Scribbit! If you want more holiday tales, you can always check out this post, or this one. Or any post from any December, really. Go ahead - it's free!]

We got up bright and early last Thanksgiving Day - not voluntarily, of course, but when you manage to get your 2-year-old to bed by 7 in the evening, you've got to accept that she is going to be chirping merrily in your ear around 6:30 AM. I went downstairs full of plans to make the house presentable and to finish cooking the dinner for our guests. Larry, it seems, had no such concerns about holiday hospitality. I mean, unless he felt that painting the front door this morning was the best way to show people how welcome they are in our house on Thanksgiving. So he painted for a while, and then he decided to while away some more time chipping off the extra concrete around the front stoop railings. A must-do item on anyone's get-ready-for-Thanksgiving list, I'm sure.

When is a day off not a day off? When I do all the things I normally do, plus try to keep the kids from wrecking Daddy's home improvement project. And I can't even go out tomorrow, as I have no desire to be mingling with all the crazies who get up at 4 AM to purchase some special at Best Buy or WalMart. (My apologies to any crazies who may be reading this, but really - you are freakin' nuts.)

Where was I? Oh, yes, our arsenic-phobic neighbor and her husband decided not to come over. I'm betting she heard that I cook the turkey in one of those plastic oven bags and decided not to risk it. The meal wasn't all I had hoped, as I managed to dry out the turkey and oversalt the stuffing. But no matter - I was so sick of all the food after cooking for 3 days straight that I had no desire to eat any of it anyway. My parents and my brother ate everything politely, and then my brother valiantly read several Curious George-type books to Rachel. I don't know how he managed to do that after eating turkey; even without L-tryptophan coursing through my bloodstream, I start falling asleep halfway through any of those stories. A weird, drugged sort o sleep, that I imagine to be kin to the feeling you'd get if you were slowly being poisoned by carbon monoxide.

Maybe it's old age. Or, perhaps, just a surfeit of parenting.

I don't want any more food ever. Well, except vanilla ice cream. I want that. Maybe I'll ask Larry to go out and get some. 7-11's open, right?

Oh, and I need to remember that I shouldn't buy sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. No one likes them. And the kids just pick the marshmallows off the top. Next year, I'll skip the cooking and the scooping and the mashing and simply throw a bag of mini-marshmallows on the table instead. Problem solved.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Anyone There?

Today was a distinctly unfunny day. From the burned graham cracker pie crusts to the cold I seem to have picked up, nothing went quite right. But I'm okay now. Holidays are worse in the anticipation than in the actual event. Once I'm caught up in the swing of cooking and baking, it's all almost enjoyable (aside from the high-pitched whining that emanates constantly from my offspring - think cicadas). And I took Anna to get her hair cut today, which made her like me for almost 15 whole minutes. So that's good, too.

When I wasn't in the kitchen or out currying favor with my alienated teenage daughter, I was noticing that the other bloggers I visit get way more comments than me. What's up with that, huh? I have Sitemeter, and I know you're out there. Remember when you were little, and your mother took you to see the play Peter Pan? And everyone had to clap for poor little Tinkerbell, or she'd die or something? You all didn't clap, now did you? I can tell.

Oh, well, our handyman still loves me. He actually came back today and built me a storage bench so that I can hide all the rain boots and bike helmets, instead of having them strewn attractively throughout the living room. This made me very happy. See? It doesn't take much. Also, the kids stayed occupied watching him. I hope he doesn't charge me for the babysitting, too.

Whew! Just under the wire for today - I'm still in it. NaBloPoMo, that is. The pressure, it's incredible.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanks A Lot, Pilgrims!

Okay, time to quit supposing. It's not 20 years ago, we all have Thanksgiving dinners to prepare, and why am I wasting time in the blogosphere right now, anyway? Probably because I have a Thanksgiving dinner to prepare, but I don't know who's coming. We always wait until the last minute and invite whoever's alone (I mean, people that we know - not perfect strangers) to come eat. Those are the only people who might want to share their holiday with a teenage girl casting death glares at everyone, a whining 5-year-old, a spoiled 2-year-old girl (who's cute as a button, but loud), a 10-year-old vegetarian who nags people not to let their turkey touch his plate, and a 7-year-old boy who has just learned to burp at the table. And even then, the anticipated guest sometimes turns us down, thinking that one of those Swanson frozen dinners in the peace and quiet of his own home will do him just fine. In other words, we only get the truly desperate.

Thanksgiving just ain't what it used to be.

But that's okay, it will be over soon. And then there's Chanukah, because my side of the family's Jewish. Luckily, Theo likes to fry up potato latkes (anything to avoid doing his Chemistry homework); but I still need to locate the dreidels, the menorah, the candles, the Chanukah tablecloth - all of which (in an unfallen world) would be located in a box marked, well, Chanukah. But they aren't. And then I have to make the life-or-death decision of whether or not I can use the homemade applesauce from last year as a side for the latkes. Would you like your holiday celebration tainted with the risk of botulism, or no? It would certainly add a certain frisson of excitement to our party, I'm sure - like Russian Roulette, only more fatal.

And then, because I wasn't smart enough to marry within my faith and keep my life simple, we have Christmas. Throw in 2 flute recitals, the church Christmas pageant, and the New Year's Neighborhood Open House that I told everyone I was hosting, and things start getting a bit crazed around here. Because I'm expected to keep all my regular balls that I juggle up in the air while I take care of these extras.

But, I did manage to order the Christmas photocards, a task which was time consuming, folks, in the way, say, that evolution is time consuming. No matter that I have well over 2000 digital photos online for this past year. I had to find the right combo of four photos to show off each kid, plus I had to find a template which will offend neither side of the family (Christian and Jewish, remember? Thank Allah there are no Muslims to deal with), plus I had to make myriad other decisions (20 or 40? Photo or Stationery Paper? Express Ship? Text of Greeting?). In short, Larry found me actually sobbing at the keyboard at 10 last night, unable to navigate my way through the maze of choices being offered to me. He had to take over.

(Silver lining - I got to use a line from Casablanca: "Oh, I don't know what's right anymore," I said, in my best Ingrid Bergman voice. "You'll have to do the thinking for both of us.")

So that's done. And I remembered to start defrosting the turkey. What's up with all those weird safety instructions for thawing out old Tom, anyway? If cooking him for 5 hours doesn't kill whatever's dangerous, I don't think it matters how you defrost it. And no one's died yet. That's why I don't serve the applesauce at Thanksgiving - if someone did die, we wouldn't know which poisonous foodstuff to blame.

Hmm...getting a little morbid for the holidays, aren't we? Time to sign off - tomorrow's baking day and I need to defrost the pumpkin for the pies. (Just had to slip that hyperlink in there - it makes me feel so blog-savvy.)

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Back to the Future

Suppose the me from 1987 could visit the present-day me here, right now (look, I know it's ridiculous, but bear with me), what would I (the younger I) think as I watched the older me, on all fours, sniffing my bed, trying to figure out if that funny smell was caused by a leaking diaper? What would I think as I watched the older me at the computer, with my toddler perched on my back with her arms wrapped around my throat? What would I think as I listened to this stranger say things such as, "Leave Mommy alone now." "Go to bed." "I've told you not to tease your sister."

Would I be filled with admiration to see this adult me, this person responsible for the lives of 6 young ones, holding and tending to and disciplining the next generation? Or would I be thinking, instead, "Shoot me now...please"?

Yes, I have time to sit around wondering things like this. Don't you?

Larry worked on the kitchen floor again today. Isn't that a surprise? So I had to take the kids out to dinner. (Lunch was easy - they had donuts after the noon Mass at church. And juice. Juice is healthy, right?) Anyway, as we walked into the burger joint this evening, what should be playing on the Muzak but the very words, "I don't want to live like a refugee..." I hear you, Tom. I hear you.

All the music at that place is 80's pop songs; I briefly considered telling Anna, "I used to dance to this music all around the dishroom of my college cafeteria." You know - just to bother her. Because it's true. I was young once, dammit. And what would I think if I could go back and visit that younger self? I'd think, "Keep dancing, baby. Keep dancing."

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Here And There And All Around The Blogosphere

What a fun day! I watched the kids while my husband worked on the kitchen floor. Nothing like getting a break over the weekend so that I can start fresh on Monday (that's, um, sarcasm, folks, in case you couldn't tell). The children and I played refugee again, eating out and wandering around town in order to stay out of Larry's way. My kids are getting spoiled - "Fries again?" they whine - and I'm gaining (more) weight as a result of our substandard diet. But I refuse to even pretend to start a diet until January - I'm nothing if not realistic. Do you hear me, Sue?

Meanwhile, over at Because I Said So, Dawn is being bombarded with comments to the effect that if you break the rules of the Car Seat Gods by buckling your child into his car seat while he is wearing his coat, you are risking severe injury or even death. Give me a break, people. The kid may move an extra half inch due to the puffiness of the coat, but, compared to how we all were secured in the car in our youth (which is, not at all), I don't think we have a lot to worry about here. Sheesh. Talk about zero tolerance for risk. Next everyone will be saying that we shouldn't let them ride bikes without full body padding. What? No one rides bikes anymore? Oh. How about roller skates? Oh. Those are gone too, huh? Well, what do kids do these days? Video games? Okay, how about carpal tunnel? Is anyone addressing the fact that today's youth is risking a massive epidemic of carpal tunnel? I bet not - everyone's too busy obsessing over what the poor kids are wearing in the car. Ignore them, Dawn - just ignore them.

I know, I know - you all want to hear about Anna. There seem to be a bunch of Anna fans out there, who are reliving their own adolescent angst by reading my posts about my daughter's severe case of teenager-itis. Well, I have cemented my position as meanest mother in the entire world because I refused to run out at 8 PM yesterday evening to find a black shirt for her to wear to a flute choir concert this morning.

I'd like to say in my defense that, when I took her shopping last weekend, I bought her a beautiful teal-colored blouse for this same concert, because everyone was supposed to wear a colorful shirt (colorful, as in "not black"). But the sartorial requirements changed at the last minute; and all the other mothers jumped into the breach, as it were, and went out at the last minute and bought the requisite black bodice. So now Anna can always remember when I said to her, "I'm sure some of the other girls won't have black blouses either, honey." And beat me over the head with it mercilessly.

I'll just take the money I saved on the shirt and put it into her therapy fund.

Anna was also surprised today to hear me say that it is her laundry day. Even though Saturday has been her laundry day for the past 3 years. You would think she'd detect a pattern by now.

Enough! I have other children who still love me. Well, maybe not Theo. He opted to go on a backpacking trip with the Boy Scouts this weekend, even though the weather makes for some fairly cold camping. Apparently he'd rather freeze his a** off than stick around here. I think he's been googling "Foreign Legion," also.

Larry gave up on trying to light the fireplace. We are going to call the people who installed it and pay 80 bucks for them to come here and show us how to do it. And yes, as a matter of fact we do feel stupid. How did you guess?

See all those hyperlinks in this post? Those are for Diesel. I like to make the meaning of my posts accessible to everyone, not just to those loyal readers who check in every day. And Diesel would check in every day, but he's been too busy photoshopping himself into pictures with Nicholas Cage. Check it out.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's Payback Time

Today is notable in that I got nothing done whatsoever. And our handyman ran away. And our kitchen reeks because there is nothing but smelly 25-year-old plywood on the floor, and if it gets wet it releases into the air every single odor it has absorbed for the past quarter century. And it turns out that the tile guy, who Larry thought was coming tomorrow, is not coming until after Thanksgiving (as in, 2 weeks too late to save my marriage). This bad timing of Larry's might just be worth a sizable Pampered Chef order, what do y'all think?

The handyman whose number was given to us by a neighbor only after she swore us to secrecy as to his identity (this is the sort of neighborhood that has experienced extremely hostile handyman takeovers) and who finally agreed to come to our house to fix (among other things) the coat closet door, the attic door, the linen closet door (we seem to have a problem here), and the missing shoe molding - not to mention building a storage bench to throw all our crap in so it isn't all over the living room - came to our house today, took one look, and decided he would put things off until Monday.

I think I'll add another few items to that Pampered Chef order.

Larry has been downstairs most of the evening trying to get our gas fireplace to light. The instruction card is covered with those international symbols for DANGER and the smell of gas is wafting up the stairway. Dear Lord, please don't let him blow the house up. Although that would take care of the smelly kitchen floor problem. And the centipedes.

Let me mention here that the 2 gas fireplaces were one of his reasons for wanting to buy this house, thereby adding unnecessary pain and suffering to our lives over the past year. Now he's downstairs experiencing a serious case of delayed buyer's remorse. Good.

Hmmm....ordering some sock yarn from KnitPicks might be a good idea also. Larry's feeling pretty bad about the floor; I might as well take advantage of it.

Barb , who manages to be endearingly funny all the time (and riotously funny at least half the time), has tagged me for another meme. Gosh, I feel popular. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, go read her contribution. It's great.

(I didn't mention my kids once in this post. That's a first. They'll be back tomorrow, I'm sure.)

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Odds and Ends

I have seen the light! I cleaned my oven with that self-cleaning mechanism thingie, and it worked! I wish I had tried that years ago. Actually, I think I did try it years ago, and something caught fire. But this time I managed not to burn the house down, and I didn't have to die a thousand deaths of embarrassment when the Pampered Chef consultant (salesperson, Larry insists on correcting me - he likes to call a spade a spade) opened my oven door to put in the pineapple upside-down cake.

Yesterday evening I held a Pampered Chef fundraiser at my house for a family with a sick baby. (See? Sometimes I do think about someone other than my own sorry self.) My friends and I all sat around my floorless kitchen and looked at fun new cooking gadgets (Suds Pump! Handy Chopper! Nesting Mixing Bowls!), while my husband sat in the living room clutching my credit card and wouldn't let it go. Thanks, honey. I would like to point out here that I've been using a butcher knife for the past year which has a broken handle. Larry claims he can find me a really inexpensive one after Christmas. I proved myself to be extremely forbearing and mature by not bringing up his recent Home Depot purchase.

This morning all the kids had a dentist appointment. At 8:30. And we made it. Thank you, I am amazing. As I've mentioned before, somewhere, we have the most efficient pediatric dentist in the world. Dental cleanings for 5 kids, x-rays for 2, sealants for one, check-ups for all, and we were still out of there in under an hour. All that, and balloons, too. I never get a balloon from my dentist.

Motherwise, a very nice person whose blog posts reassure me that I may just live to like my teenage daughter again, has invited me to tell everyone 8 interesting things about myself.

1. I am very short. As in, people will say to me, "Wow - you're short." Perfect strangers.

2. I didn't like children at all before I had my own. I regarded them as an expensive hobby taken up by people who had nothing better to do with their time than to talk about poop and to wipe gross runny noses.

3. Bugs disgust me. Our house is overrun by centipedes and the sight of one makes me want to puke. Some of them are so large that they could be mistaken for a small mouse, if seen out of the corner of one's eye. And when you step on them, their legs keep wiggling. Excuse me, I have to go throw up.

4. Okay, I'm back. I used to be intelligent. Now I am the stupidest person on the face of the earth. Just ask my teenage daughter.

5. I have no ambition. I have no idea how I ever would have earned a living if I hadn't married and had kids. Career goal: kept woman.

6. I wish I had started having kids earlier in my life than age 28, so that I could have a dozen. You have 4, or 5, or 6 kids, and perfect strangers are still making those stupid jokes: "Don'cha have a TV?" "They know what causes that now!" "You're a real pioneer woman!" But go ahead and have 12 kids, and people are stunned into silence. Which would be just fine with me.

7. My 2-year-old got poop on my coat sleeve today (don't ask). This incident further convinced Anna (my 14-year-old) that she never, ever wants to be like me.

8. I like to stick my head in the sand. I have 5 adults and 12 kids coming over in about an hour, and I'm sitting here blogging, rather than attending to the mess which is my house. Bad idea.

Day 15, and I'm still in it! Go, NaBloPoMo!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Don't Want To Live Like A Refugee....

Library, thrift store, bakery, Target, bagel shop, bookstore - can you tell I didn't want to be in my own house yesterday? I needed to escape the torn-up kitchen and the refrigerator in my dining room - you know, when the going gets tough, the wimps run away. That's me.

Luckily, Theo wasn't put off by the mess and made us a decent dinner (stir-fry chicken with walnuts - excellent); luckily, because our sodium counts are going through the roof, what with being on the road all weekend and being kitchen refugees yesterday and Monday. I do like that boy. So now I just have to get the house ready for guests this evening. Which means, I take the myriad items lying around the main floor and throw them either upstairs or downstairs, close all the bedroom doors, wipe down the powder room, yell at all the kids non-stop not to leave their stuff around, and voila! I'm company-ready.

Martha Stewart secretly wishes she had my touch.

Maybe I should clean the oven, too, since a perfect stranger will be using it and may not understand why I leave charred bits of food on the bottom as burnt offerings to the kitchen gods. Oh, and the inside of the refrigerator is pretty gross. But I'll just blame the kids. There. Problem solved.

I don't know how Dawn had the nerve to let those TV cameras in, but I love her for it.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oh, Hell - You Bet!

I managed to escape to our neighborhood Bunko game yesterday evening, despite Larry's sudden home improvement attack. (Or, perhaps, because of it - who knows?) We needed more players, so we recruited 2 husbands (not mine - he was home, wreaking yet more destruction upon our erstwhile habitable kitchen). We still didn't have enough people, so the 2 guys, rebelling against the feminine aura of Bunko, dragooned us into playing a card game called "Oh, Hell." Which would have been a lot of fun, if I hadn't lost. Badly. Never play someone else's game - not when there's money involved, anyway.

So, anyway, after the game and drinks and food, I invited people over to our house so they could witness just what "irreconcilable differences" look like. Larry was still hacking away with his crowbar and some weird sort of electric saw that he had just bought that day at Home Depot. He really needed it, he said, to do the job right. Hey, I really need a chef and a maid to do my job right, but is he spending money on that? I don't think so.

I'll give him credit - he stayed up half the night, and he worked in the kitchen this morning before he went to work. Apparently, he does have some sense of urgency about this project. Maybe he even detects that I am unhappy. But, of course, that theory doesn't explain why he would leave the refrigerator in the dining room for the foreseeable future, now does it?

It's that time - baths, dinner, books, bed, go!

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Bad Timing

We made it back home. The trip was fairly easy, if you don't mind a sleepy 2-year-old screaming for her bed the last 50 miles or so.

I went out for a couple of hours this afternoon with my daughter Anna to argue over clothing choices. When we got back, we found Larry halfway through ripping up my kitchen floor. Apparently it slipped his mind that I had promised to hold a Pampered Chef fund raiser in our house 2 days from now (and I had told him this morning). A Pampered Chef fund raiser - you know, the kind where someone comes over and cooks a meal in your kitchen, a kitchen presumably not cluttered with chunks of torn-up linoleum and particle board. A kitchen, let's say, that has a floor. This is a problem, and I am not sure how to solve it, other than making Larry stay up all night until he finishes whatever project he has in mind.

It's not as if there were no other projects to work on in this house, you know.

I bought Anna 2 outfits that aren't too slutty. That was the best I could do. I wanted to get her 3 outfits, but there weren't any more items in the juniors department that would be deemed acceptable from my middle-aged, conservative, "shouldn't that only be seen by your husband?" perspective. I thought I was being generous in labeling the 2 outfits we got "barely decent." And Anna showed remarkable restraint by not calling me a "stupid old lady," as she has done in the past at this particular clothing establishment. Progress, folks; we're making progress.

I have to go to bed early - my morning walking companion has threatened to drag me bodily out of bed if I don't meet her outside tomorrow at 6:30 AM (I've been slacking off, I admit). I think she means well, but it sure doesn't feel like it.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Entering the Twilight Zone

Well, no one can accuse us of overstaying our welcome. We head back home this evening, and we are hoping that most of the children will sleep in the car for most of the ride back. Eternal optimists, we are.

We visited a county park today and climbed up a hill to see the ruins of a "castle" built by a successful industrialist at the beginning of the last century. Wanting to know more about the history of the place, Larry and I googled the name of the location when we got back to my parents' house. But the webpage dedicated to the site has a picture of a completely renovated castle, a renovation that was finished about 7 years ago and contains both an art museum and a library. It is definitely recognizable as being built up from the ruin we saw today, which makes me wonder what the heck is going on. We saw a ruin. I know we saw a ruin. Now I wonder why we didn't see mysterious little Dutchmen playing ninepins up there.

I'm spooked, can you tell? Read Rip van Winkle if you're confused.

Larry is getting a little irritated that he is trying to leave and I'm not. Bye for now!

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On The Road Again

Well, we made it to my parents' house. It was a fairly uneventful car trip, disturbed only by Rachel's whining that she was hungry (because bagels, Twizzlers, and raisins did not fill the bill - I have no idea what she was expecting in the car - filet mignon?) and by my whining about how hard it was to pick up loose stitches in a moving vehicle. I'm also having a motivation problem with this knitting project, because I keep looking at the sock and thinking, "This should be a sweater." Which thought makes absolutely no sense, as I do not know how to knit a sweater. But that doesn't stop me from slipping the unfinished sock on my arm anyway and admiring how it looks as a sleeve.

It's a miracle we got the kids to sleep this evening. They were so wound up on candy and tickling and Bugs Bunny movies that I thought we'd need to use a tranquilizer dart gun to settle them down for the night. Really, all that the children do here is eat fun food, play with Legos (as if we don't have those at home), and fight over who gets to use the camera on Uncle Mike's cellphone. And they think it's just great. Larry hides downstairs, pretending to be updating the security software on my brother's computer. And I wander around, marvelling at how everything still smells the same as when I grew up in this house. (What's up with that, huh?) It's not exactly a family trip to DisneyWorld, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper.

Now I am doing laundry. Because Susie has somehow managed to pee on all of the clothing I had packed for her. But I'm used to doing laundry on vacation. It's almost a family tradition.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Google Giggle

Oh, dear. You know, on the Firefox browser, how there is that little rectangular box in the upper right-hand corner, where you type search words for Google? And you know how, unless you remember to go back and delete, those search words stay up there until you do another search? Well, imagine my unsuspecting husband's consternation when he sits down at his computer this evening and sees "nude knitters" in his search box. That took some explaining, I must say. Because he doesn't read my blog.

We've been busy today getting ready for a weekend car trip to my parents' house. The kids are very excited about it, because they like all the junk we feed them to get them to be quiet in the car. And they like all the junk Grandma and Grandpa feed them when we visit. They are very food-oriented, my children. I'm excited about the trip because I get to spend over 4 hours knitting with no one bothering me (except to ask for more Twizzlers). Anna is excited about the trip because she is not going; she's staying with a friend instead. I don't think Larry is excited about the trip, but he married me and he's stuck.

So I need to go finish the zillion loads of laundry that always need to be done before we go away for a mere 2 days. And I need to clean up the house, so that if we all get killed on the highway, perfect strangers won't come in and say, "Oh, my Lord, they lived like pigs." It's a little phobia of mine.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

I Feel Pretty

Do all parents feel alarmed when they hear water running anywhere in the house? Is it instinct? Or have I been traumatized by too many years of bad plumbing experiences?

Knit Night went well. I took a barely-knitting friend there, because she wanted someone to show her how to put fringe on a scarf. She couldn't figure out why everyone there was so friendly and helpful. At a loss for a better explanation, I told her, "It's because they're knitters." Really, can you picture a mean knitter? Tale of 2 Cities aside, of course.

By the way, "barely-knitting" means a beginner knitter, not one who likes to do her handiwork in the nude. In case you were wondering. Though I'm sure if I googled "nudist knitters," I'd probably find a yahoo group or two devoted to just that. Isn't the Internet great? [I was going to hyperlink to a site, just to show you that I was right; but, after perusing the options, I've changed my mind. This is a family blog, dammit.]

I was in Target today (surprise), trying to find some birthday gifts for my eldest, who turns 16 tomorrow. We are planning to buy him a really nice bicycle (as opposed to a really nice car, say); but, since a birthday isn't fun without a bunch of little packages to unwrap, I wanted to get him a few other things. Unfortunately, even though I have lived with this kid since the second he was born, I couldn't think of anything to get him. Alarm clock? Naah. He'll think I'm nagging him to get up earlier. MP3 player? Too many to pick from. Cell phone? No way - I'm still trying to decide which company to go with. So, after much agonized deliberation, I selected an attractive bag of gummy bears to give to him on his big day. I sure hope that it really is the thought that counts.

"Rachel has 24 dollars," Brian announced today, as Rachel skipped ahead of us in the store, gaily swinging her little purse. "No, she doesn't, Brian," I corrected him. "She had 20 dollars from her birthday, but that's all gone." "I do have 24 dollars," Rachel said. "Brian counted it for me." So I took a look inside her purse and, lo and behold, there was a wad of money in there of various denominations. We don't know where she got it, because she's pretending she can't remember. In fact, I'm sure we'll never know. Does that really surprise anyone who has been following this blog for the past year? I think not. My precious 5-year-old daughter seems to have a predilection for being on the wrong side of the law, and there's not a darn thing I can do about it.

Finally, after procrastinating for months, I betook myself to the hairdresser (all of 5 minutes away) and told her to do something, anything, to make me look good. And she did. And I will continue to look this good until I have to wash my hair - because I can never, ever style it the right way myself. Still, 40 dollars for 48 hours of feeling pretty - that's less than a dollar an hour. Not a bad price for happiness, is it? The best things in life may not be free, but they can be fairly inexpensive.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Talk To Me

Everyone all over the blogosphere is having these cute conversations with their kiddies (and, yes, Sue, I'm talking to you), and here - well, that sort of thing just doesn't happen. It's all, "Did you eat your carrots? How many? Eat another one." And then they whine. Or, I'll say, "Time to play outside. Go! Now!" and they go. Sometimes I vary it a bit by saying, "Get in the car! Hurry up!" or "Why didn't you go to the bathroom before?" My teenage daughter will occasionally initiate an interpersonal exchange by screaming, "I hate you!", which I guess has the potential to be meaningful; but I never know where to go with that, you know? Maybe I'm just not approaching this conversation thing correctly. Are there certain lines I should use for openers? I mean, aside from, "Sweetie, do you have something cute to say that I could put in my blog?" Just wondering.

I have Knit Night tonight. It's only my second one, and I still feel a little backward showing up with my pathetic attempt at making a sock. It's fiber show-and-tell night, which means....well, you tell me what it means. I don't really know. These people all seem to be yarn aficionados, while I'm still just picking up whatever crap I can get on sale at Michael's. I wouldn't be surprised to see someone show up with a live sheep.

I may be in over my head with this knitting thing. What with people speaking unintelligible KnitSpeak while wearing their hand-knitted Fair Isle sweaters at Knit Night, and knitting bloggers sending me tempting links for pricey yarns in all sorts of pretty colors (for all the world like dirty old men standing near a school yard saying, "Here, little girl, want some candy?"), the fast-paced world of today's knitting seems a far cry from when people were just trying to come up with something to keep themselves warm. It's fascinating, yes; but seductive. I've heard rumors of knitters' children going hungry because of their mothers' yarn addictions. Oh, yeah, at first it's just a skein or two here and there; but before you know it, you find yourself stealing your own kids' lunch money to pay for your habit. Alas, the seamy underside of knitting has never been pretty. (Ouch - an unintended pun, but a pun nevertheless.)

Speaking of neglected children, it's time I stop goofing off at the computer and make sure mine get fed before I go out. It makes my husband a wee bit more amenable to my escaping from the nut house this evening.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Title

I have a 5-year-old daughter who for some reason takes pleasure in snipping a single fringe (can that word even be used in the singular?) off our authentic Turkish carpet every few days. Every time I sweep the dining room floor (about twice a week), I find one (just one) severed string from our pretty rug, which happens to be the only nice thing we have left in this dump we call home. Today I also noticed a deep scratch in the glass of our storm door (too high for Susie to reach). I am assuming Rachel has decided to adopt a stealthier approach than she has employed previously in order to achieve her goal of destroying everything we own. And there is nothing I can do about it. If I bring attention to it, experience tells me that she will escalate.

Isn't there some sort of homeowner's insurance I could buy that would cover us for vandalism of this nature? I'm sure that it would more than pay for itself.

Susie is not adjusting well to Standard Time. She stood at my elbow while I tried to edit photos and screamed for over half an hour, because she thought it was bedtime. My ears are still ringing, even though she went to sleep (finally) 2 hours ago. I'm not as resilient as I used to be.

Larry wants to escape on a Boy Scout backpacking trip with Theo. I told him it was fine with me, as long as he brought Anna along too. They could enjoy some of that positive daddy-daughter bonding that parenting-book authors seem so fond of. I mean, if she would deign to talk to him. She might be a bit upset, since sleeping outside and peeing in the woods isn't exactly her idea of a good time. Which is why I want her to go, of course. Plus, I wouldn't have her glaring at me all weekend. A win-win situation, right?

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Monday, November 05, 2007

The Way We Were

Anna asked me to take her shoe-shopping this evening, and she was shocked, shocked, to hear me say, "No." The floor of her room is still littered with the refuse from her tantrum last night, including broken shards of plastic and approximately a zillion teeny tiny beads that fell victim to her indignation at being made to catch up on her geometry assignments. It would also be nice if she put the sheets on her bed. I am quite the exacting housekeeper.

I hope that these Anna stories make someone feel better, just knowing that at least his/her teen doesn't act this way. Somebody has to benefit from this craziness. So go ahead, pat yourself on the back at my expense. I don't mind.

We're still coming down from the candy high which was engendered by the holiday-that-must-not-be-named-again-in-this-blog-until-next-October. Rachel wept all through dinner because Brian still had 4 Skittles left and she had nothing. It is beyond my organization skills to make sure that my kids all eat their candy at the same rate. I may be a control freak, but I still have to draw the line somewhere.

I just finished uploading all my photos (a conservative estimate puts the number at 2000) from the entire year onto Snapfish. Now I have to edit them. I really don't know how I fell this far behind. I didn't even have a baby this year. Maybe if I give up sleep....

Wait, I've already done that. Oh, dear. Maybe I should give up the digital camera instead. With film, I didn't have this many pictures to deal with. Remember film? How every event pretty much amounted to 24 snapshots, and at least 8 of those weren't any good? And you didn't know that until you paid for them? Now film photography seems as quaint as driving around with a horse and buggy. Or listening to lp's. Remember those?

I'm feeling nostalgic for simpler times tonight. For lousy photographs and scratched records, ugly Tupperware and boring evenings when there was nothing good on all 3 channels. We had some tough times back in the 70's, even without Watergate hearings pre-empting all the Saturday morning cartoons. Maybe I'll wake up the kids and tell them that. But I know they won't believe me. They don't even believe I was ever a kid. Heck, I don't believe it myself. It used to be that having children made me feel young. But now it does the opposite. Can someone explain that, please?

It occurs to me that I could get more photos edited if I didn't persist in wasting time maundering on about my own mortality. Let me test that theory. Good night, all!

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Thanks For The Memories

Yup, we're all mixed up, time-wise. In case you were wondering. And I had the pleasant experience of being woken up by Anna yelling at Rachel to "Get out! Just get out!" because Rachel was trying to get dressed at the early hour of 8 (well, 7, but I'll stick to Daylight Savings Time for this little anecdote, since Anna went to bed in DST, and really, 10 hours should be enough not to get too annoyed).


I don't remember when I agreed to relive high school. I had to spend an hour and a half in the car with 3 14-year-old girls this afternoon and I hated every minute of it. Funny, but until today, I had assumed that parents tell their kids that screaming and yelling in the car (at least over the age of 2) is out of bounds. And, while they're at it, that listening to an IPod when no one else in the car has one is sort of rude and immature. Maybe they could even find time to tell their darling little IPod-wearer that her hearing could be damaged when that thing is playing loudly enough to make the driver think that the car radio is on.

Okay, I'm jealous. I don't have one. Yet.

Do you remember in high school, hating being near the obnoxiously popular kids and praying they would not notice you and make you feel even nerdier and less cool than you already felt? Now, imagine that you feel like that at home, all the time. I'm living a nightmare and I can't wake up. And Anna thinks that the time until she can go away to college is passing too slowly? I am so ready to send her.

Tell me, is there anything - anything at all - about raising teenagers that is rewarding? I mean, babies and little kids are lots of work, but then there are those moments when they laugh and smile and say, "I love you" that make it all worth it. And when they are learning to walk and to run and to ride a bicycle, it is all so exciting and I feel so proud of them. I just don't get those same warm fuzzies when I'm teaching Theo to drive, or when Anna is getting visibly annoyed by my mere presence. Where's the fun part?

I got started on my next pair of socks while waiting for the girls to finish flute choir rehearsal. I'm very proud of myself for learning how to knit socks this year, and I've showed them off to lots of people; but I must admit that no one is exactly begging me to gift them with some handknitted socks for Christmas. I haven't quite learned the technique whereby the socks actually look attractive. They each have a heel, and an interesting-looking toe, and they sort of fit; but they lack a certain je ne sais quoi. But no matter - I start each new pair with hope springing afresh that these will be the ones that make people ooh and aah in admiration (right now my friends just sort of stare at my finished product in a puzzled fashion and then exclaim, "Oh! It's a sock!"). You know, Edison tried a hundred different materials for the innards of his incandescent light bulb before he hit on tungsten; and I'm only on my 5th sock.

That wasn't a great analogy, but it was the best I could do. I'm tired, because although the clock says 9, it is really 10. And I wish someone would just abolish this clock-switching routine, it gets on my nerves. As if life weren't complicated enough....

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Drive Me Crazy

Do I hate this woman, or what? Here I am gimping around, dragging one foot behind me like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein, and she's 40 weeks pregnant and running marathons? Show-off. It only takes a few women like her to ruin pregnancy for the rest of us.

It was Larry's turn to take Theo on the road today. In fact, I think it is going to be his turn from now on. We'll settle for traditional gender role assignments here - I give birth to the kids, and Larry teaches them how to drive. That's fair, isn't it? And, you know, that Lamaze breathing that everyone learns at childbirth classes that doesn't do squat when you are actually in labor? It does come in useful when you are in the passenger seat and the "baby" is driving. I sure hope Larry paid attention to how to do it.

Well, it's time to set half the clocks in the house back and then get distracted and leave the others as is and be really, really mixed up when we get up tomorrow morning. Maybe we just shouldn't bother to change any of them until tomorrow. But then we'll get up in the morning and ask each other, "Did we set them back last night or not?" It isn't easy, living with early-onset dementia.

By the way, I have no idea what's going on with some of the comments on this blog - I just found this whole page of comments I must have missed, and I don't know how. So if you're thinking I was ignoring you, you're right - but I didn't mean to. And now I'm having a hard time typing while trying to listen to Garrison Keillor, so I have to go. I do have some of my priorities in order, you know. And listening to A Prairie Home Companion outranks goofing off in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, reading Curious George for the millionth time comes in dead last, which could explain why Rachel is still sitting on the couch waiting for me to read to her and tuck her in. Bad Mommy, bad!

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As Time Goes By

A fellow blogger (who is very funny, by the way - check her out) mentioned in passing that she is 35 years old. And it got me to thinking, what wouldn't I give to be 35 again? Not any younger, mind you, because 34 was the Year of the Head Lice around this house, and there is no way I could repeat that. But 35? If I were 35 right now, I could start yoga and then, when I would be 44 again, I wouldn't be pulling my back out lifting a jack-o-lantern off the porch and maybe my wrists wouldn't hurt when I try to brush my hair, and perhaps I would be so limber that I never would have done whatever it is I did to my hip a couple of weeks ago that is making my leg be all weird and numb for most of the day.

Also, my kids would all be young enough to worship the ground I walk on.

In short, I am rapidly falling apart here, and there doesn't seem to be anything (aside from time travel) that I can do about it. I do yoga now, and I walk in the mornings, and I give birth regularly; but things just aren't working the way they used to. Youth is wasted on the young, I'm afraid.

The entire house smells like burned pumpkin. Don't ask.

I am hating the New Yorker right now. They never pick my entry for their cartoon caption contest. Sometimes I can't even understand the entries that they do pick. And I'm originally from the New York City area, so it's not as if I'm some rube from the Midwest who doesn't get sophisticated East Coast humor. Dammit, I want to win. It's the only way I'm going to get something decent to hang on my walls that doesn't cost a mint.

[Whoops, looks like I insulted every Midwestern reader I have (all 3) - but remember, just because there are some rubes in the Midwest doesn't mean that everyone from the Midwest is a rube. (The converse of a true statement is not necessarily true - I know that because I've been helping my teenagers with their geometry this year.) So assume that I am talking about someone else. Someone not intelligent enough to enjoy the oh, so sophisticated humor of this blog, for example. Thanks.]

Where was I? Oh, yes - my walls. Larry has been having a stressful time at work lately, so I figured it was time to pile on and let him know that we need him to paint our living room and dining room in time for the New Year's party I'm planning to have. It's not a New Year's Eve party, because I can't stay up late enough. I'd have to go upstairs to bed while everyone else was still here and ask people to make sure to turn out the lights and lock the door when they're done. And I don't want to do that. So I thought an Open House sort of gathering on New Year's Day for the entire neighborhood would be a good idea. These things always do seem like good ideas, until, say, the night before when you are up late trying to hang the curtain rods and curtains that have been lying behind the couch ever since you moved in 6 months ago. And the paint on the walls is still wet. So maybe I should rethink this. But I don't want to. I'm stubborn that way.

Wow, it's quiet here - everyone fell asleep before me. That's surprising, considering I've been letting the kids sleep late this week, in preparation for turning the clocks back this weekend (yes! an extra hour of sleep!). Twice a year I plot and plan to make the transition go smoothly, and it never works. One particularly memorable spring, we had a baby a week after we switched to Daylight Savings Time, and nothing got back to normal (schedule-wise) for 6 whole months - just in time to switch the clocks again. Ouch.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

The End of Halloween (I Promise)

Thought I'd grab a moment while the kids continue overdosing on sugar to let everyone know that Halloween here was a rip-roaring success. Larry took the 4 youngest to a zillion houses and they came home bearing approximately 46 pounds of candy each. Which we promptly took away. Just kidding - we waited until they finally went to bed and then we took it away. Except for a few pieces, which they are working on now.

Susie dropped out after about 50 houses and came home and sat on the floor and devoured candy. It was awesome to watch. She ate and ate and ate. At one point, she had 3 different lollipops going, and an open pack of Skittles. What finally slowed her down was when she peed in her (pretty darn absorbent) pumpkin costume.

Anna went trick-or-treating with a neighborhood friend. Because the friend's family is just so cool and not horribly embarrassing like ours. Not that I am bitter or anything.

This morning we walked to the bagel shop for breakfast and the kids picked up dropped candy from the ground. Because they didn't eat enough last night. Happily, they didn't mistake the round piece of dog poop for chocolate.

I chopped up our jack-o-lanterns today - darned if I'm going to let those stupid squirrels eat them instead of us. And before all you slackers start commenting on how you don't even know how to cook pumpkin, let me just point out that it's easy - you hack the pumpkin apart, take off the rind (that's the dark orange part, for you cooking novices out there), and you cut the rest into chunks and throw it in your crockpot on high all day. (Oh, and make sure the crockpot is plugged in. The food cooks faster that way.) That's all there is to it. And it sure beats throwing 20 dollars worth of pumpkins in the trash.

At least, that's how I felt before I spent an hour chopping up one and a half pumpkins and then realized I still had at least 2 hours to go. Now, I'm not so sure. If I'm saving 20 dollars by not throwing out the pumpkins, but it takes me, say, 4 hours (including clean-up) to do it.....that's 5 dollars an hour. I think I'd earn more working at Target, and I'd get an employee discount, too.

But which is better for my career, pumpkin-hacking or customer service? That is the question. I wonder what Hillary would say....

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