Showing posts from April, 2008

Natural Disasters

Not only do my children have issues with turning off lights, they also have an aversion to ever properly screwing the lid back on to any jar, jug, bottle, or whatever. This can be a problem when one goes to shake the salad dressing before pouring it (I mean, if it bothers you to walk around smelling like Creamy Italian the rest of the evening)...or when the vibration of the washer makes the laundry detergent container fall off and land on the floor. A problem, say, the way the Exxon-Valdez spill was a problem.

I mean, how does one clean up an entire jug of liquid laundry soap? It would be nice if I could have taken a hose and simply sprayed down the entire floor, as it does have a drain in it...but that would have been in some alternate universe, a universe where we have a garage that would hold all the crap we have piled in our utility room. I could show you a picture, but it is too embarrassing. Suffice it to say that there is a narrow path to my washer/dryer and that path was c…

Wonderful Things

Gee, I should ask for household hints every day. I get more comments that way.

Before all the (much-appreciated) suggestions to use vinegar came pouring in, my Depression-era neighbor advised me to add baking soda to the wash. Being primarily acquainted with baking soda's fire-extinguishing qualities, I was puzzled; but I complied. Wow! You know, I've never really cared much about how I do the laundry, just so long as it gets done; I have never even used fabric softener or dryer sheets. But today, sniffing my sweet-smelling, baking-soda-ed clothes released my inner laundress from whatever dark dungeon she has been cowering in all these years. The formerly funky-smelling laundry smelled so good, I was almost inspired to line-dry it in the sweet spring air. Almost. Fortunately, it's raining today, so I was saved from acting on this rash impulse. And line-drying is outlawed in my 'burb, anyway.

Yes, we are that plastic here.

What astonishes me is that I had such a gr…


Real post later, all about my exciting weekend. But first, a plea for help -

How does one get rid of the smell in a load of laundry that has been sitting in one's washer for 72 hours? I've washed it twice this morning, but there is still a smell (though not as bad). Will putting it in the dryer kill it? Or seal it in?

I know someone out there is a laundry maven who will have the magic answer...

...Gang Aft Agley

Like that title? I'm so literary.

Seems that no matter how hard I try to be organized on the packing end of a trip, things are always a mess after a day on the road. I can't find a darn thing, I didn't bring enough warm clothes (times 5 people) for a trip north, and Larry is out searching for a store that might carry 2 child-sized toothbrushes and a razor. I can't imagine how we could have forgotten anything, as we loaded more stuff into our minivan for a weekend trip than Ma and Pa Ingalls packed into their covered wagon to move their entire household across the prairie.

This is us, only we have car seats. And a lot more stuff.

Someday our children are going to figure out that all other 21st-century youth have IPods and DVD players to entertain themselves on long car trips, and they are going to be very angry. What can I say, kids? Your parents are cheap Luddites. You gotta play the hand you're dealt.

Anna was not exactly overcome with tears to see us leave thi…


Apparently, I am going to spend my first free weekend in 17 years at what future generations will undoubtedly refer to as the Woodstock of Knitting. The gentleman at WEBS sounded a little shaken up yesterday when he relayed to me the information that a thousand people will be descending on his store just to hear the Yarn Harlot speak. Imagine, if you will, one thousand knitters all in one place. Having trouble? Me, too. All I can picture is people waving placards proclaiming, "Make sweaters, not war..."

Of course, first I have to get there. Free weekends aren't free, you know. Here was my list:

1. Wash every single piece of clothing in the house so that everyone has enough clean clothes for the trip to Grandma's and Grandpa's house
2. Make sure all those clothes are actually packed in people's individual backpacks.
3. Keep Susie from unpacking her backpack, repeatedly.
4. Feed Susie lollipops to get her to stop screaming after I confiscate her backpack.
5. Buy…

Weight Not, Want Not

I'm not sure what that title means, but it is sort of catchy, isn't it?

Brian is sick. But, of course - he needs to get sick by today so that he could be sure to infect me before the glorious knitters' weekend that is coming up in a few days. I mean, we wouldn't want to let Mommy get away by herself for the first time in 17 years. (Of course, there was the week I spent 3 years ago in a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, taking care of my dad - but I really don't think that should count, do you?) So Brian is sitting around with a sore throat and a slight fever and rubbing his boogers on every surface he can think of. Thanks, sweetie.

Today was the day I officially increased my goal weight by 6 pounds. I feel as though I cheated. Because I did. And in order to help all you other dieters out there who would like to be as successful(?) as I am, I have compiled the following list.

Things Weight Watchers never told me

1. If you eat a bagful of baby carrots (zero points!) in…


I missed one lousy piece of food on the kitchen floor Sunday night, and I am paying for it dearly. Ants are swarming my kitchen....I hates them. And don't tell me to get a pest control company - I hates them, too. They want to charge me 400 dollars a year to show up every once in a while to place some ant bait under the shoe moldings and spray the outside perimeter of the house. Guess what? I can get that ant bait and some Raid at Home Depot up the road. 15 dollars, tops. I keep telling Larry he owes me 400 dollars.

To add to my woes, I am suffering from haircut-induced PTSD. The initial trauma occurred way back in 1997, what Larry lovingly refers to as The Year of the Head Lice. It was traumatic. So traumatic that I am still unable to write anything funny about it. Let me just say, then, that one week after letting someone cut my hair with communal scissors that I haven't been able to personally sterilize, I become convinced that bugs are hatching all over my head.

Knitting Follies

I decided 2 nights ago to finish the sweater I had started for Rachel. The separate pieces have been done for months; but, stymied by the cryptic (to me) instruction to "pick up" the stitches at the neck, I had put it aside. Buoyed, however, by my successful foray into kid-pleasing cake decorating, I realized that, hey, no matter what the finished product would look like, my daughter (being only 5) will no doubt think it wonderful.

Kids can be such an ego boost, can't they? I'm raising my own little fan club.

So, while I helped Theo with his geometry, I picked up stitches (badly), knitted a collar (somewhat), and then (whew!) started on the easy part - attaching the sleeves. My adrenaline coursed higher and higher as I sewed; I'll stay up all night, I thought, and finish the job; Rachel will wake up tomorrow morning to find a handknit sweater on her bed. Yes! I am truly a wonderful mother!

Imagine my disappointment, then, when I realized I had sewn the sleeve on i…

Nightmare in Target

I went with Anna to Target today (whoa! big surprise there!), because her very existence depended on her finding something new to wear and my very existence depended on my tracking down a certain skirt I spotted on Big Mama's Fashion Friday - a skirt that would actually reach almost mid-calf. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't think most women in their forties look too good in skirts that show their knees, or that wrinkled skin above the knees, or (heaven forbid) their thighs. Just sayin'...

So, anyway, I found the skirt(miracles never cease, and if you go looking for it, please note that the sizes are way off - size down) and headed for the dressing room, where the old ladies in charge look at me suspiciously every single time I walk in there with (gasp!) clothing to try on. Entering my little cubicle (it's time to start the scary music now), I did not realize, as I prepared to try on the Skirt of Wonders, that there were 2 (count them, 2) full-le…


Well, today I have one less imaginary friend, because we managed to meet up and she became real (just like the Velveteen Rabbit, I guess). It is so weird to hear a person's real voice after getting to know them only through their blog and e-mails. When she called me this morning to finalize arrangements, I almost backed out. Because I realized that this was really a perfect stranger that I was driving half an hour to take to ChikFilA (I had 4 of the kids with me). I mean, how dumb is that?

Well, I am glad that I didn't chicken out (ha! - no pun intended), because Kalynne turned out to be the realest person ever, now that she isn't imaginary. And I managed not to kill us both with my lousy driving (though I think she was a tad worried there for a bit). Our conversation was interrupted periodically by teenage children calling with various crises, so I can attest that her children are real, too. Or else she staged some very convincing fake cellphone calls...

As for my 4…

Health News

This just in (according to the BBC): vitamins are bad for you. You can put this information in the "Why Even Bother, We Are All Going To Die Anyway" section of your brain. I file it right next to the information that because I retain belly fat (excuse me, I mean visceral adipose tissue), I am going to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. I guess the Alzheimer's will be a blessing, as it will keep me from being aware of just how miserably unhealthy I am.

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

I woke up this morning and thought, "My clothes from last year are all ugly, and I ate too many cookies yesterday." So, I am getting my hair cut. A new hairstyle is a way cheaper (and faster) method of boosting one's self-esteem than either therapy or drugs. Unless, of course, the haircut turns out lousy. But what is life without a little risk-taking?

The Taxman Cometh

Well, some of you may recall my boasting smugly about having finished our taxes way back in January. I guess that irritating smugness may have deterred people from reminding me that I now have a teenage son who managed to be gainfully employed last year and who just might need to file some taxes also. Luckily, I remembered at the last minute; so Theo received a crash course yesterday on W-2's, FICA ("You mean, I don't get that back?"), and why it's best not to guess when typing in your SSN on IRS forms.
To tell you the truth, I just don't remember being that young.

I visited a local mega-church today. A friend of mine invited me to drop in on some talk she was giving, and I jumped at the chance to see one of these places. (All right, the words "free child care" did have some influence on my decision to attend, also.) Being the type of person fascinated by the logistics of efficiency and scale (in other words, being the mother of a somewhat larg…

Money Makes The World Go 'Round

If you don't live in a cave, you have already read about this study showing us how incredibly expensive children are to raise. Supposedly, it will cost Larry and I 250,000 dollars per kid to get through to age 18. Aside from the dubious assumptions employed in a costs/benefit analysis of raising children (let's face it, folks, nice as that child tax credit is, we're not doing this for the money), I have a slight quibble with these numbers.

Food - they claim it costs me 2000 dollars per year per child. Well, no wonder the little rugrats are always whining that they are hungry - I'm only spending about 1200.

Housing - 14,000 dollars a year per child? When we lived in a house perfectly adequate for up to 4 kids (and we fit in 5 and could have stayed there with 6 if we wanted to), we were paying approximately 30K a year for housing, for all of us. That comes to 5000 dollars per person. But this study has each child costing us 14,000 a year? You know, there is no law …

Alone Again...

Larry deserted me again to spend the weekend biking with David and his Boy Scout troop. At least he didn't have to drag David out of the house kicking and screaming like last time. I'd console myself for my loneliness by eating chocolate; but now that I have practically reached my goal weight (or, to put it more accurately, now that my goal weight has almost reached me), it seems foolish to set myself back with comfort eating. Plus, I want to pig out at Bunko on Monday night. So I will just have to knit instead. Maybe some crochet, too - for dessert.

Oooh...I wish I hadn't typed that word "dessert."

Anyway, Larry is atoning for all this spousal abandonment by agreeing to my suggestion that we drive all the way to Massachusetts to visit what is, apparently, the greatest yarn store ever (and, not so coincidentally, to hear the Yarn Harlot speak at this same store). I mean, I am going to the yarn store; he is going to keep the children amused by taking them to S…

Volcano Virgin

That title came from somewhere - an old Doonesbury joke, I think...

For weeks, Brian has been planning his birthday celebration. He had drawn up extremely elaborate plans of how I was to decorate his sheet cake - the final design included a volcano spewing lava and ash into the air, people running away in terror, etc. All of which was way beyond my skill level. (Actually, anything more difficult to draw than a smiley face is beyond my skill level.) So then, naturally, I was beating myself up over how I don't make super creative cakes for my kids' b'days - you know, the way Dawn (Because I Said So) does. Because she has 6 kids, too, you know; but you don't see her telling them, "Hey, I let you pick out the frosting color - what more do you want?" Nope - she makes cakes shaped like cars and...and...other stuff like that. Which just points out to me my complete inadequacy as a mother. (You hear that, Dawn? Stop torturing me.)

Anyway, necessity is the m…

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

The tale of Brian's Volcano Cake will have to wait until tomorrow. I don't want all the b'day pictures lumped together with the pictures I dumped off the camera this morning in preparation for the festivities. The b'day pictures need to be downloaded on a different day. I know there is probably a way for me to download them tonight into a separate "album," but it is beyond my capabilities. Do not try to explain it to me; my brain will explode.

So, instead, I will share with you the most exciting news of the day. Today Susie became the very first kid in our family to actually poop in the potty before reaching her 3rd b'day. Yup, she is amazing. Well, actually, I am just amazingly lousy at potty training; but I've made my peace with that. We all went out for ice cream to celebrate her great feat. Which, I do realize, poses a problem the next time she chooses to poop in the potty....

Oh, and we left a message for Larry at work - I got Susie to say…

Smokey and Me - BFF

Nothing exciting, today. Well, unless you call my teen daughter screaming, "Mommy! Fire!" from the kitchen exciting. I ran in there (without my camera, darn) to find flames leaping up from the burner all around my 12-qt pot. Even though I am a veteran of many oven and stove fires, this particular display of pyrotechnics was quite impressive. Luckily, it died down when I turned the burner off; and I coated the remaining embers with a generous sprinkling of baking soda to make sure nothing relit.

So there it sits. For some reason, it didn't occur to me to actually clean the mess up. I mean, I just cleaned the stove, remember? I have photographic proof.

I'm exhausted tonight (firefighting really takes it out of me); I hope I will be up to the task of creating a volcano cake for Brian's birthday tomorrow. I trust that a volcano cake is easier to make than a tornado costume was. And I have to wrap the Lego set that Larry picked up on his lunch hour today, once…

Target Practice

[Welcome, CarTalk visitors! For more automotive mishaps, you can go here. Or here. But, seriously? This site is really all about the vomit. And the mice. Oh, yes - and the somewhat strange kids, too.]

Larry agreed to go to Target with me this evening to look for a birthday present for Brian. He was doing his typically male thing of backing into a parking space instead of going into it the normal way (he likes to show off, because I am too spatially-challenged to ever be able to back into anything)...anyway, he was busy impressing me with his driving skills when I noticed that a woman in a van right behind ours was mouthing some words at us, and the intent of these words did not seem particularly friendly. Maybe because she had been aiming for that same parking spot. I was fretting over the possibility of an embarrassing altercation in the store; but Larry wasn't worried - he had a plan. "Don't worry," he told me. "If she starts yelling at us, we can pret…

How To Get More Me-Time

I am loving this article. For those of you too lazy to click (and what is your problem, anyway?) , it talks about a recent spate of deaths among high-profile, posting-every-day bloggers. If you read the article (c'mon, click already!), however, you will notice a pattern: all the "victims" are men. Apparently, they can't handle the mental and physical stress of being on call 24/7.

Think about that for a minute. You don't see any Mommy bloggers dropping dead, do you? No, of course not; because we are used to those working conditions. Mental and physical stress, 24/7? That's our job description, for heaven's sake. So, gentlemen? My advice to you is, if you can't take the heat...

And speaking about not being able to take the heat, a lot of you are stressed out by the demands of being an Idle Parent. "I'd like to pay less attention to my kids, Suburban Correspondent, but I don't know how." That's what a lot of people are te…

This And That, And A Penguin

Now, admittedly I have gotten a bit lax on the childproofing as my youngest approaches the august age of 3; so there might be a small chance that maybe I left a tube of Vick's VapoRub in her dresser. And it is just possible that, in her desire to be just like Mommy (isn't she smart?), Susie may have decided - upon discovering what looked like Mommy's hand cream in her sock drawer - that her sweet little baby hands were in urgent need of some moisturizing therapy. And acted accordingly.

All of which may explain why Larry came home from church today complaining that everyone within 3 rows of our little mentholatum bomblet was blowing his/her nose constantly during the Mass. Maybe.

But I say there is just something going around.

Have I mentioned Susie's fat little legs lately? Her round little bottom? Her big brown eyes that stand out even though they have to compete with her extremely big, round cheeks? We squeeze her all the time and threaten to eat her up. Yum.


Much About Mulch

This morning, Larry took the 4 oldest to assist at David's Boy Scout troop mulch sale. Anna, of course, was very excited about helping a bunch of creatures she considers to be the most disgusting beings in the known universe. And getting up at 6:30 in the morning? That was just the icing on the cake.

This happens to be the second mulch sale we've been conscripted to participate in this year. Apparently, mulch is a very popular item in inner suburbia; and I, for one, am glad, because the dads tend not to become involved when the kids are selling such namby-pamby items such as gift wrap or frozen cookie dough. Rent a few forklifts to move several tons of landscaping material, however, and you've got the menfolk swarming like bees around a honeypot.

I guess the gift wrap was just too emasculating.

So all you Girl Scout moms who are sick of running the cookie drive year after year after year? Get that monkey off your back by having your little green-skirted darlings sell some…

Parenting For Dummies

To close off our discussion of politics, VE suggests that we waterboard all the candidates to see if they have outstanding library fines. Not a bad idea...such a process could avoid an expensive special counsel investigation down the road - you know, Librarygate...

But my specialty is parenting, not politics. So let's get back to what I know best, okay? No one needs my opinion on the presidential race when I could be dispensing valuable advice on how to ignore one's children (hmmm, maybe next week's list?). Incidentally, I've put all my advice lists on the sidebar to the left there, under "Parenting for Dummies." See? Now no one has to waste good money on books by child psychologists and other novices - you can just look up an answer here on my blog. Questions about childrearing? Send them to me - I may not know the answer, but I can always make something up. Heck, that's what I do with my own kids, and they're all right. Sort of...

We had th…

All Politics is Loco

One reader yesterday brought me to task over my assertion that waterboarding is indeed torture, pointing out that sometimes torture is sometimes necessary to elicit vital information from detainees. Actually, I wasn't arguing for or against the use of torture (although I respectfully disagree with his thesis, as do professional FBI interrogators). It's just that if you are going to torture someone, don't start splitting legal hairs and saying it isn't technically torture. They remind me of Anna arguing that she didn't really push her younger sibling, she was just moving him forcibly out of her way. Hello? Let's have a little personal responsibility here.

And, yes, I do think the current administration is a little short on that.

Don't think you have me pegged, politically speaking, simply because I dislike the Bush administration. I'm one of the vast number of swing voters that all the candidates are desperately courting these days. In fact, I still…

No Kidding

I had to clean the stove today, since I can't even turn it on without setting off the fire alarm; so I thought I would make the task fun by taking before and after pictures. Well, I must be a lousy photographer; despite my best efforts , the after pictures really do not look much better than the before ones. Go figure. Maybe it is my camera's idea of an April Fool's joke.

I hate April Fool's Day. I have never understood what is so funny about making someone else (as in, um, me) feel like an idiot. Not that I resent it or anything, Another Gray Hair; but if you do end up actually pregnant at some point in the future, enjoy that morning sickness, okay? Humph.

I took the younger kids to the library this afternoon; I only had to pay 25 dollars this time to get my account thawed out. If any of you are keeping a running tally of how much money I have paid to that lovely institution this year, please do not share it with me - I don't want to know.

Remember the other d…