Friday, February 29, 2008

In Which I Feel Sarcastic

I just came back from having a cavity filled, and I am proud to report that I conducted myself with dignity. I even refrained from grabbing the dentist's arm while he wielded his drill. Of course, the valium probably helped.

And this just in - my blog is cute and endearing. At least, that's what some of the reviewers over at humor blogs said, and I don't think they meant that in a good way. They were probably just feeling cranky because they had to read a mommy blog. Apparently, we mommy bloggers are serious anathema to the, uh, serious humorists in the blogosphere. They only let us mommies hang around their site so that they'll have someone to laugh at their jokes. Girls are good for that.

Cute and endearing...I guess that beats "bitter, bored, and long-winded," which is how MadMad's blog was categorized. Maybe I should try to get sponsorship from Hallmark - or, even better, My Little Pony.

Now I'm trying to think of something cute to write. My toddler has had these long, ropey boogers hanging out of her nose all day. That's sort of cute, especially when they run into her mouth. Endearing, even. And the 5-year-old has been rubbing her boogers on her sleeve, and then licking it. Awww.....isn't that sweet? I should get a picture, I guess.

My novocaine is wearing off, which isn't doing much for my typically endearing disposition. Time to go...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

War is Hell

I swear, in all the years they have been alive, not one of my children has ever, of his/her own will, turned off a light. I'll go upstairs and find it devoid of people, yet with 3 bedroom lights, one hallway light, and one bathroom light, all on. I think it's all part of their NILE initiative - No Illumination Left Extinguished. Just a few people's effort to make their tiny corner of the world a little brighter....

And in this (bright) corner of the world, what makes the front page of major newspapers (print edition) are school redistricting fights. That's right, there's the war in Iraq; but there are the more important wars here at home, such as whose child gets to go to an AP school versus an IB school. Though these differences seem trivial to outsiders, they spark internecine violence, such as fistfights among parents at school bus stops (please, people, the children! Spare the children!). Irate homeowners storm the offices of local realtors, who made unkeepable promises regarding specific school districts. Longtime friends and neighbors stop speaking to each other. It's brother against brother, the north side of town against the south, angry mobs sniping at each other at neighborhood yard sales...

People wonder why I home school. I tell you, it's because I don't like to take sides. Can't we all just get along? And put something more newsworthy on the front pages of our newspapers? Geez, no wonder print is dead....

I sat next to yet another spinning fanatic at Knit Night yesterday evening. She looked normal, but then she started talking about her spinning wheel that she had bought in Vermont; and the woman on the other side of me chimed in about the wheel that she might just pick up in Poland (apparently the Stradivarius of spinning wheels lives there); and I realized I had entered the Twilight Zone. What's wrong with these people? Don't they realize that we live in way too rushed a society for them to sit there and spin wool into yarn, and then knit a sweater from it? I mean, by the time you're done, you've frozen to death, right?

It's now that point in the afternoon when the sound of my children's voices puts my teeth on edge. Anna is out babysitting (apparently, she is much nicer to other people's children than to ours) and Theo has decided he wants to get all this high school nonsense out of the way and is studying non-stop. David is busy trying to make some sort of astronaut diorama out of those little marshmallow Peeps and some tinfoil. (What is it with that kid, anyway?) But that still leaves Brian, Rachel, and Susie (piping shrilly away on her little plastic recorder) to drive me insane. My only hope is that our next-door neighbor's children come over and distract them. You'll just have to take my word for it, it's way easier to watch 6 kids than just 3. One of those paradoxes of parenthood.

Oh, and I'm starving. Not losing weight, though; just starving. We wouldn't want all this suffering to have a purpose or anything...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Don't Wanna Grow Up

That's right, you didn't hear from me last night. I had to go to bed early, as my husband apparently thinks I need to be up at the crack of dawn. There's nothing like a dentist appointment to make me wish I weren't a grown-up. I don't want to be mature and take myself to the dentist. I want to be dragged kicking and screaming to the car, and I definitely need a balloon afterwards. And a sticker.

Is that weird?

I made up for my unhappiness this morning by being grouchy towards Larry. I'll give him credit - he didn't take the bait. And he actually heated up the car for me, which was nice. So I forgive him. But I did schedule the next appointment myself.

I needed x-rays today, which I hate, because I have the smallest mouth for an adult (something Larry finds hard to believe); and those squares they stick in your mouth for the x-ray are always too big. The dental hygienist (I guess just for emphasis) (or maybe she didn't like my looks) went into a back room where they apparently store tools left over from medieval torture chambers and came back with some sort of huge device to hold the already too big squares in place; then she shoved it all into my tiny little mouth, probably because she likes to watch people bleed.

So I cried. I have no shame. And she went out and came back in with a small teeny-tiny thing that did the job just fine. What's up with that? Why didn't she use the little thing in the first place?

Don't you love all these technical dentisty terms I'm using? I couldn't ask for the proper names of all the equipment, because there was stuff in my mouth. And this hygienist was definitely nicer than the one I had a couple of cleanings back, who was insisting that my teeth were all going to fall out of my mouth within a week because of premature gum disease. That woman was really fun. She kept going on and on about the importance of flossing, even though I had already told her that I floss every single day (honestly). I almost jumped out of the chair to grab her by her stupid smock and scream, "You callin' me a liar, you Listerine-soused dental tramp?!" Because really, I don't like that.

And, yes, I do feel silly complaining about a dental cleaning appointment, particularly when some people have way bigger problems....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Handbag Math

The few guys who read this may just want to leave the room now. No, I'm not going to be talking about anything embarrassing like tampons or such; but I'm willing to bet that you could care less about handbags. Go check out The Clay Pigeon - Grundir the Implacable is dispensing work life advice, and there's the scariest bunch of trash-talkin' math wizards you could ever hope to meet. You can come on back for the last 2 paragraphs, where I discuss the mean trick my husband played on me this morning.

Anyway, gals, I went to Target tonight for some Vagisil (ha, ha, just kidding, just wanted to get rid of those interfering men) and I spotted a new handbag. It sort of leapt out at me and asked me to hold it and check out its cellphone pocket (isn't this the first thing you do with purses now, look for where the cellphone goes?). It's fun, it's flirty; in other words, it's totally not me. So I was trying to decide whether or not to take a big leap of faith and buy it and pretend to be fun and flirty. I mean, this isn't just a handbag, it's a statement, right? It's saying that I am not going gently into the dowdiness of middle age; this handbag can let the world know that a few wrinkles doth not an old hag make.

[By the way, Larry wonders why it takes me hours to come out of Target. It's because all these philosophical questions arise. They are very time-consuming.]

Where was I? Oh, that point I thought, hey, why am I agonizing over this decision? The purse cost 17 dollars. The handbag I bought 2 years ago (2 whole years ago!) was also 17 dollars. At that rate, I cost my husband only $8.50 (plus tax) in handbags a year. You know, there's frugal (which I am, believe it or not), and then there's just plain stupid.

So I bought 6.

No, no, no, I just felt like typing that. But it occurred to me that my husband doesn't understand how expensive handbag-acquisition habits can be, because he has been spoiled all these years by his undemanding wife. I'm totally on board for (with?) keeping to our budget and saving for our retirement; but I need him to realize that things could be much worse, wife-spending-wise, you know what I mean? What's the use of unappreciated sacrifice, anyway?

So whaddaya think? Should I buy lots of stuff at once and bring it home and then say, loudly, "But no, that would be wrong!" and then return all of it (except the handbag, of course). Or is there an easier way to get my point across?

Okay, guys, come back in. Sometimes we just need a little girl talk, you know? Anyway, Larry made sure this morning that I would never, ever bother him at work again. So you menfolks may just want to take notes on this. You see, he asked me for our dentist's phone number so he could confirm a dental appointment for later this week, and I asked him to get me a make-up appointment for a cleaning while he was on the phone with them. He sounded a little annoyed and rushed when I asked, but tough.

So, yeah, he got me the appointment. For 7:30 AM. By my calculations, that means I have to be up, showered, and dressed by 7:15. (I'm spoiled, all right? I haven't managed that all winter.) Think I'll ever ask him to schedule anything for me again? I don't think so. He's diabolically clever, he is.

Monday, February 25, 2008

To Google Or Not To Google...

Okay, this may just be the worst sore throat I have ever had. I'm still not letting myself Google "diphtheria." But I spent a good hour and a half last night having panic attacks about it. Hypochondria is a harsh mistress.

Today I went to the commissary to stock up on food for the next 2 weeks, illness be damned. I did okay, though I think I was sort of whimpering by the time I reached the checkout. I came home and went to bed, which my contract definitely doesn't allow; but I don't care. My husband won't fire me, because he wouldn't be able to find anyone else dumb enough to take my job.

Not the best of days, folks; my usual light-hearted wit (ahem) has high-tailed it out of here for the duration. If anyone finds it, please let me know.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fever Dreams

I dreamed Alan Alda got mad at me last night. He was at a party in my house and he kept spilling orange juice on the hardwood floors. When I asked him to please move the orange juice pitcher into the kitchen, he became quite irate. He could not believe I was being such a fusspot about the OJ, and I ended up feeling guilty because, let's face it, Alan Alda seems like a pretty nice guy; if he is mad at me, it must be my fault.

If that all is supposed to mean something, I have no idea what it is.

Maybe that's just what happens when you go to sleep drugged up on Tylenol and Sudafed. Or perhaps I was delirious with fever. All I know is I feel like crap, and the zillion and one things I normally get done on Saturdays are not getting done, which means the coming week is going to be hell. And for some reason, Susie has chosen today of all days to whine a lot in my vicinity. It hurts to hear it. Everything hurts, actually. The mattress hurts. I'm most comfortable curled up into a ball in the corner of the couch, a fact which worries Larry a bit. At one point he said, hopefully, "I think I had this already, a few months ago." Talk about grasping at straws - I've had this already, too - about 20 times over as many years.

But this illness is not the worst we've had, by far, so long as I don't try to swallow. You do realize, don't you, that thinking to yourself, "Don't swallow" practically guarantees that you'll have to do just that? Ow.

It doesn't help that I got that shot yesterday. It turns out it wasn't just for tetanus, but also for diphtheria and pertussis. So now my inner hypochondriac is convinced that this is no ordinary sore throat. It is all I can do not to Google "diphtheria - symptoms" and scare the bejesus out of myself. As it is, I figure I'm going to choke to death any minute.

Can you imagine, Larry thinks I am too dramatic when I'm sick? Why would he say a thing like that? Maybe he's just disappointed. After all, he probably didn't spend the workweek looking forward to a Saturday where he had to watch the kids all day. It could be that he even thought he'd get a few hours to himself over the weekend. As I've said before, irrational optimism does seem to be a trademark of parents of large families. Sort of a protective shield, as it were, from the desperate reality of our situation....

Time to go to bed and try to rest up for tomorrow. Because I don't think I am going to be allowed to be sick two days in a row. It's not in my contract.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Eternal Miscellany of a Cluttered Mind

Larry and I did the teamwork thing this evening in order to get the Sudafed into Susie's mouth before bedtime. He held down her legs and arms; at the same time, I immobilized her head with one forearm while sticking the medicine syringe (lovingly) into her screaming mouth. We're quite good at this maneuver, having had much practice over the years. Which made me realize: soon I won't need this skill (and others like it) at all. In a few years there will be no screaming toddlers or babies to force into hard-to-buckle car seats (damn those 5-point harnesses!) or strollers. There will be no incredibly messy diapers to clean up, and we won't need syringes to administer medicine. In fact, all the skills that I have so painstakingly developed over the past 16 or so years will soon be completely irrelevant.

In other words, my iceberg is melting. And it's a frightening feeling. The only useful know-how I'll be left with will be some rudimentary knitting skills. That and a few bucks will get me a tall latte.

Speaking of knitting, I made the mistake on Wednesday of (brightly) announcing to my Stitch 'n' Bitch group that there would be a lunar eclipse that night! Silence. Everyone looked at me for a second, and then they continued talking to each other as if I had done nothing more than emit an embarrassingly loud belch. Apparently, knitters don't care much (as a group) about the moon. After all, there are no sheep there.

I got confused, you see; in homeschooling circles, a lunar eclipse is the conversational centerpiece for days surrounding the actual event. Everyone keeps their kids up late to watch, and if yours don't get to see it, they feel left out. You would think that an eclipse had never happened before, the way we carry on. It's almost pathetic.

But the eclipse was really cool.

Perusing the news online, I stumbled across Midlife Suicide Rises, Puzzling Researchers. Might I suggest that said researchers must be happy young people in their 20's and 30's, people who, I daresay, don't have teenagers yet? Because I, for one, am not puzzled by this phenomenon in the least. Just let one of those researchers get up morning after morning to look in a mirror that utterly betrays her and then go downstairs to face an adolescent who is only too happy to let her know what a loser she is, what with having been dumb enough to grow up and do boring things like work and pay bills and boss her kids around. Let this young chippy of a researcher do that, and then ask her if she is still puzzled. That is, if she isn't crying too hard to talk.

And, no, that above paragraph is not a cry for help. I plan to live long enough to see my children suffer at the hands of their teenagers. In fact, I smile just thinking about it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hypochondria, Unleashed

Sometimes, I like to fantasize what my life might be like if I could take a shower in the morning without 2 little girls in the bathroom with me, bickering over which one gets to unwrap Mommy's Kotex. Just in case you thought there was a cure for sibling rivalry, I'm here to tell you that no, there isn't. Siblings will fight over anything. They're programmed that way.

I managed to pierce my foot on some sharp piece of jewelry crap on the girls' room floor this morning, and the doctor's office recommended that I come in for a long-overdue tetanus shot. So, blowing some finely-laid morning plans to hell, I headed out, down my ice-glazed steps and to my ice-glazed car, which I couldn't open. So I called the doctor's office to tell them that my car was frozen shut. Meanwhile, Theo, always intrigued by a challenge, went outside to see what he could do and came back in to report that the reason I couldn't get the car open was because the doors

I hate smart-aleck teens, don't you? Especially when they're right?

So now I am defrosting the car. Hopefully I will remember to go back out before I run out of gas. Because otherwise I would be stuck here without a tetanus shot and my inner hypochondriac would take over and convince me that death is imminent. And that would result in my devoting my day to what any mother would do if she felt that her time on earth was soon to end - I would try to organize all the thousands of pictures on my computer so that my poor motherless chicks would at least have a few happy memories of their childhood.

I really don't have the energy to do all that right now, so I think I'll go outside and check on that car.

That's Amore!

I never realized how much in demand pizelle-making is in a man. All over the blogosphere, it seems, there are women swooning at the thought of a husband making his own pizzelles. If I had mentioned that Larry also cleans the kitchen up afterward, I think I would have to fear for my marriage.

Oh, and his sister (who doesn't keep up-to-date on my blog) called yesterday and asked me if Larry was okay, because he had sounded sort of stressed on the phone the other night. "Does he get any exercise?" she asked, solicitously. "I don't know," I demurred. "Why don't you ask him yourself?"

Yeah, I set her up. And I don't care.

"Be nice to me!" Susie shouts, to no one in particular. She knows her rights. Now she is waving a pretty dress in my face, demanding it be draped immediately onto her fat little body. Each morning she rises with the sun, agog with anticipation for (of?) that day's wardrobe choice. Nighttime has become a particular distressing time for her, insofar as she has to relinquish whichever pretty dress she has twirled around in all day and don inelegant pajamas in its stead. Though Susie looks fetchingly cute in her pajamas, they are very unsatisfactory for twirling purposes.

Which reminds me, I need to get out of my untwirly pajamas and into something decent before someone shows up at the door unexpectedly. Because I certainly don't look fetchingly cute in my nightclothes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Enough About Me

Nada. Zip. Nothing. That's how much weight I lost this past week. Of course, I could take a glass-half-full perspective and say that that is how much weight I gained this past week. Either way, I don't feel as though I'm getting my 40-dollars-a-month worth. And I'm hungry.

Being hungry makes me really cranky, especially when I start surfing the blogosphere in order to take my mind off food and I run into 2 or 3 blog posts in a row which are going on and on and on about doughnuts and other baked treats. Complete with pictures, wouldn't you know? Blogging can make you fat.

Manic Mommy has tagged me with a meme, or what she called a heme, as she made it all about her husband. Which may not be a bad idea....

1. My husband doesn't like jokes about exercise.

2. He tends to fall asleep in the den with his headphones on, plugged into music on the computer, which makes it awfully tempting to turn up the volume. But I resist.

3. When he sees me relaxing with some knitting for a few minutes, he thinks it is a good time to mention all the different business trips he is planning to go on in the next few months. And then he wonders why I wait until he is asleep to go up to bed myself.

4. He likes to talk to our teen daughter Anna, just to bother her. It's fun to watch.

5. He and I share the same goal of enjoying many boring evenings together once the children have flown the nest. Imagine, no crises, no teeth to be brushed (I mean, except our own), no Berenstain Bears books to be read....I'm just going to sit and knit, and he is going to fall asleep with his headphones on, and our grown children will wonder how we ever got that way.

6. He spoils Susie more than I do. She gets up extra early in the morning because she knows Daddy will give her a treat in the kitchen before I can get down there.

7. He is happy with whatever I make for dinner, so long as he doesn't have to think about it. Cooking isn't his strong point. If I die before the kids are grown, they will have to survive on nothing but hotdogs and pancakes. And pizelles (those flat eggy Italian cookies) - the man makes his own pizelles (how do you spell that?). Last night, in fact, the urge seized him; so he and I were in the kitchen at 9:30 having a mini pizelle-fest. When Brian came down to ask for some Sudafed, I said, "You caught us! This is what we do every night as soon as you go to bed - we have a baking party in the kitchen." Poor kid - he believed me. He hasn't looked that traumatized since the time I left him behind in an elevator.

G'night, all!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Love And Marriage

The plumber came to visit today; it almost felt like old times. Larry was thrilled when he pointed out that in order to fix the problem with our tub drain, he would have to cut a large hole in the freshly painted living room ceiling. Nothing like paying someone to trash your house...

Larry went jogging today. He exercises on all federal holidays, whether he needs it or not. That's a joke. I thought it was funny. Larry didn't. I told him he could make fun of my Weight Watchers recidivism, just to get even; but he was still mad. So I got mad that he was mad. Things went downhill from there.

Some days, "until death do us part" seems like a really long time.

And would you believe, he still wanted to hang up pictures together today? Is he trying to finish us off, or what? Why doesn't he just call the divorce lawyer and be done with it? I ignored him, so he hung up all that crap where he felt like it. And tomorrow, when he goes to work, I may just take the ugly things down. Because immaturity is my middle name.

Oh, the homeschoolers among you may want to read my essay Winter Doldrums, which appeared in the current issue of Home Education Magazine. Or maybe not.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Brave New World

Judging from the results of my extremely unscientific survey, it just may be that the sound of the newspaper hitting the front porch in the morning will soon go the way of the clinking of milk bottles being delivered in the early AM. Soon people who read the print edition of the paper will be considered rather quaint, like those people who smoke pipes or sew their own clothes. It is quite possible that you do have to be a bit old-fashioned, as Bia put it so nicely, to want to sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee and looking at the newspaper with your spouse. In fact, Larry and I attempted to do that very thing this morning - but our conversation was soon interrupted by 2 little girls who, not understanding that we were trying to save a dying tradition, deluged us with requests for food and crayons and general attention. Maybe when we are old (and the kids are grown), we'll be able to sit around on a Sunday morning with the papers spread out before us and coffee and bagels on the table - that is, if there are still papers to spread out. If not, I guess we could sit there side by side, each with our own laptops, e-mailing each other articles that we enjoy. But I can't imagine that scenario feeling quite as cozy.

Enough! It's a brave new world out there; adapt or perish. And in my ceaseless effort to adapt, I have wasted countless hours trying to figure out the cheapest way to have reliable phone service in the 21st century. Currently we use a combination of voip and cellphones with prepaid minutes; but driven mad with envy by my friends sporting nifty cellphones with free shared minutes and cameras and maybe even the ability to launch a nuclear war by pressing the right button, I once again plunged into researching all the different cellphone plans, looking for the best deal. Which turns out to be...(surprise!)...voip and prepaid minutes. Damn. I really wanted my entire life to be on that cellphone. Maybe next year.

Oh, and all of you on those cellphone family plans? Plus a house phone? You're spending a heck of a lot of money.

Half the kids are sick, but no one is vomiting or keeping me up all night; so I'm good. And I managed to score some Children's Sudafed the other day - almost impossible in these crazy days of hyper-regulation and FDA scare tactics. I think I could have gotten my hands on marijuana more easily. As it was, I thought they were going to fingerprint me before I walked away from the pharmacy counter.

This winter has been a bust for us. I'm packing up all the snowpants and sleds tomorrow; we won't be needing them until at least December. I hate snowless February's. I think I'll move to Canada.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Times, They Are A-Changin'...

Who knew there were so many parents with residual-vomit stories to share? Before I started this blog, I would have naively believed I was the only person living with lingering puke smells; but now I realize what an ignorant fool I was. From where I'm sitting (reading yesterday's comments), it would seem that there is a veritable plague of vomit-smell-ridden bunkbeds and carpets and cars out there in this great land of ours. It's an epidemic! Forget global warming - why aren't the great minds of our generation working to save us from this pestilence?

Just had to get that off my chest.

But here's another question. The other day, in the foyer of our local supermarket, there were 2 gentlemen attempting to get people to subscribe to our local paper (one of the big national papers, really). You would have thought they were panhandling, the way people were avoiding eye contact and brushing past them. People wouldn't even accept the free newspaper that was offered. So, do you read a print newspaper anymore? Or am I a dinosaur for having a daily subscription?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chocolate Makes The World Go 'Round

We had a romantic Valentines Dinner out, Larry and I and the 6 kids, at a local burger joint. After yelling at the children for 3 hours this morning in order to get the house ready for the party, I was too wiped out (lazy, really) to make a decent meal. And since I hadn't fed the kids anything but candy and cake all day, I wasn't able to rationalize feeding them that crap for dinner also. I haven't sunk that low yet. Give me another year.

Anyway, now Brian feels sick (but not in a stomach way, thank goodness). For some reason (that I really do not want to think about at all), the boys' room still smells like puke from the bunkbed vomiting incident 4 months ago. You would think that even if I had missed some vomit in the clean-up(s), the leftover stuff wouldn't smell anymore. Or maybe you don't think about things like that at all. Maybe that's my own particular hobby.

I should just turn this problem into a homeschool science fair experiment - we could call it How Long Does Vomit Maintain Its Ability to Offend the Olfactory Senses? That would look great on a college application, now wouldn't it?

Valentine's Day is a No Weight Watchers Zone, by the way. Otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten out of bed this morning. I mean, what would have been the point? The house was a veritable dieting minefield, filled as it was with Rice Krispy treats and cookies and the big heart-shaped box of chocolate given to me by my loving but misguided husband. Tomorrow, I will climb back on the points-counting, healthy-eating wagon; but for another hour or so, everything edible here is fair game. And, since the kids are finally in bed, it's mine, all mine!

I broke my bedtime rule this evening, and boy did I regret it. By 8 o'clock all the kids were running around and screaming at each other. Rachel touched Susie's balloon; and then Susie took Rachel's puppy (the one from Santa), because she likes Rachel's puppy with the pretty red bow around its neck better than the boring brown doggy that she got from Santa. Brian was crying that his feet felt funny, and Anna was pitching a fit in the kitchen because she had to load all of 5 dishes into the dishwasher and turn it on.

So I spanked them all soundly and sent them to bed. Well, I wish I had, anyway. What I really did was wrest the puppy out of Susie's fat little hands and watch her big brown eyes well up with big fat tears, which damn near broke my heart. Then I gave Brian Tylenol and told him to lie down and recuperate in his vomity-smelling bedroom. And I left Larry to deal with the overgrown tantrum-thrower in the kitchen while I lay in bed with Susie and read a book until she fell asleep over an hour later.

All of which explains why I am downstairs at close to midnight eating my Valentine's chocolate and feeling cheated out of my evening , rather than upstairs giving my husband the rest of his Valentine's present. In case you were wondering....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What's Wrong With Addiction, Anyway?

Half a pound. Up. That's what a week of denying myself leads to - a weight gain of half a pound. Imagine how much I would have gained if I hadn't been on a diet. It is becoming clear to me that I have a choice for the rest of my life - look good, or eat like a normal human being. I can't decide.

It was one of those days (those many, many days) when only the lobotomizing effect of having been around small children for almost 2 decades prevented me from going absolutely crazy. It was close, though. Forget waterboarding - stick some prisoner in a cell with Rachel and Brian bickering non-stop for 8 hours, and he'll tell you anything you want. I'm betting that would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions, though. Torture, plain and simple.

It was a relief, I must admit, to abandon my family this evening in order to attend Knit Night, where I can converse with adults about topics other than who started it and who is supposed to do what chores. And I was proud of myself for getting out and mingling with real people, rather than opting to stay home, on the computer, "chatting" with my imaginary friends. The result? I came home with 2 new blog addresses to add to my reader. Oh, dear.

But it seems that on the spectrum of blog addiction, I'm somewhere in the middle - not yet completely lost in the world of virtual friends, but definitely heading for the danger zone. Those of you who commented on yesterday's post that you peruse fewer than 20 blogs, just wait. You'll get sucked in too.

What fascinated me was the range of rationalizations we use to justify our Internet habits. "I read a lot of blogs, but I don't comment much" - is that the equivalent of not inhaling, Sue? I'm just wondering. And Kelli claims that she reads them for the recipes. Tell me, is that like reading Playboy for the articles?

Some people, such as Mary Alice, feel that organization is the answer to the problem of blogging taking up too much time. Still others opine that, while blogging may be a bad habit, it is only replacing other bad habits, such as TV watching and online shopping. And then there are the few, the proud, who make no excuses whatsoever (or else they are just so far gone they don't even realize what's happening to them).

Questions of blog etiquette also arose. Is it impolite to visit a blog without leaving a comment, as mrs. g. suggested? Perhaps that would be the virtual equivalent of peeping in someone's windows.... And if you don't have a reader or blogroll, but just sort of "link around," does that make you a blog slut, as Manic Mommy hypothesized?

Blog slut - I love that.

So I'll leave you to ponder all these musings on the nature of our virtual connectedness, while I prepare to host a Valentine's Day party tomorrow. Volunteering to host get-togethers of this nature is the only way I can get myself to clean up my house. Public shaming is a powerful motivator.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Can Quit Anytime (Maybe)

Let me be the first to admit I have a problem here. I started blogging 6 months ago and I thought, you know, that I could handle it - there was no way I would turn into one of those mommy bloggers who are glued to the computer for hours every day, chatting with people they've never seen and looking at pictures of other people's kids while ignoring their own.

Well, today I realized (while batting my 5-year-old daughter away from the computer) that I have 62 blogs on my reader. 62. That's ridiculous. Add to that the fact that some of you are blogging overachievers who feel the need to post more than once a day, and you've got a recipe for serious child neglect on my part.

I don't know how this happened to me. I used to wax rhapsodic about the joys of living in the real world and seeing people face-to-face; I would criticize (gently) those of my friends who were neglecting the real people in their lives in order to spend time online with people they had never even met. What is the world coming to? I asked self-righteously.

It's coming to this. I'm addicted to blogging. Every morning when I wake up, I promise myself that I will spend an entire day (well, until 9 PM, anyway) blogfree, focusing instead on my house and on my children. And every single morning, I fail to keep my promise. This disturbs me. If we were talking about alcohol rather than blogging, I'd be in a 12-step program by now.

So, tell me - how many blogs are on your reader? Or, for those of you semi-Luddites without a reader, how many blogs do you check each day?

[I did take my kids to the library today, in between blog posts - and I read to Rachel twice. I made dinner, too. So I don't think I have hit bottom yet. But it is a slippery slope.]

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hissy Fits And Tantrums Always Get Me Down

This is the week of our NPR station's semi-annual pledge drive, which usually drives me up a wall. Sometimes I don't even listen the whole week. But this year, something is different. Listening to them beg for money over and over again, and describe the "thank you" mug in detail, and talk about how much it costs to buy body armor for their foreign correspondents - I don't know, it's sort of soothing. I like it. This worries me.

Anna regressed today. She'd been doing pretty well for a few weeks, doing her chores without throwing hissy fits and refraining from using the death glare on her hapless siblings. Today, it all came back. Wow. To top it off, she sat around complaining how cold it was and was not at all amenable to my suggestion that she put on more clothes, or at least some socks. In fact, the sock suggestion earned a double death glare. It was rather unreasonable of me. After all, if I would just hike that thermostat up to 75 degrees, she wouldn't even have this problem.

The little girls and I went to a local supermarket today to get away from their possessed teenage sister and to eat all the samples. One of the salespeople thought she was being helpful by giving each of my girls a balloon. Rachel's balloon popped shortly after we reached home, causing her to howl in rage for a full 15 minutes, while Susie, fearful that Rachel would confiscate her balloon, cried and screamed at me, "Go back to store!" In the meantime, Brian was crying that he hadn't gotten a balloon at all (he hadn't wanted to go to the store with us). Even by my warped standards, it was quite a scene. So, in order to take people's minds off the damn balloons, we played a game of Trouble which involved my pinning Susie in a sort of wrestling grip so that she couldn't grab everyone's pieces off the board. The game was fun, despite my having to yell repeatedly, "Hurry up! Go! I can't hold her much longer!"

I will look back fondly on all this, right?

Any childless person reading this blog is no doubt scheduling a permanent contraceptive procedure right now. So, to scare them even more, I will admit that, with the exception of "Sense and Sensibility" and "Groundhog's Day," I missed every single movie released in the 1990's. (I was busy having babies, all right?) Diesel recommended Office Space, which we recently viewed and enjoyed; were there any other good ones I missed? I'm trying to catch up.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Vampires and Valentines

I'm not too sure about this blood-donating thing anymore. I was happy to give and all; but as far as I understood it, no one was going to be bothering me for another 8 weeks. So why did I get a phone call tonight?

Anonymous Vampire: I'm with the Red Cross, and we were wondering if you'd be interested in making a platelet donation next week?
Me: Um, what are platelets?
A.V.: They're in your blood.
Me (relieved): Oh, I gave blood 2 weeks ago. I'm not allowed to give again for a while.
A.V.: This is a different procedure. We take more platelets, but we give you the rest of the blood back.
Me (trying hard not to pass out or throw up): Really?
A.V. (sounding disturbingly enthusiastic): Yes, we stick a needle in each of your arms and....(thud)...hello? Are you there? Hello?

So, Manic, I'm asking you to call off your dogs - they're scaring me. 2 needles? You know, the cookies weren't that good.

In related news, we made valentines today (you know, blood, hearts, valentines) - it kept the kids busy, and I (the eternal optimist) even entertained the notion of being able to spend the afternoon sitting peacefully at the kitchen table with them, decorating cardstock with foam hearts and cute pictures and drinking hot cocoa. Instead I spent an hour and a half resolving one crisis after another concerning not-self-adhesive foam hearts and dried up glue sticks and stamp pad property rights; and then I had to clean up the stove where the hot cocoa boiled over, and one of the neighbor's 4-year-olds didn't make it to the bathroom in time...all of which conspired to destroy any misguided notions of a Mary Engelbreit type day (please click on that link, because a picture is worth a thousand words).

Maybe next year...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Things I Never Learned In Math Class

6 kids equal 1800 dollars in tax rebate. In the words of Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer, "They really are cheaper by the dozen." I do wish I had thought of that joke first.

1 fun-size Twix equals 2 Mint Musketeers Miniatures (for all you Weight Watchers out there). But, if you leave the open bag of Musketeers next to your keyboard, you end up eating at least 8 points worth before your husband takes it away. After that, you have to settle for licking the empty wrappers (0 points!).

4 pairs of jeans in the laundry hamper equals no pants to wear except the too tight ones that I hang onto for no good reason. (And, yes, I am sitting here at the computer with them unbuttoned just so I can breathe - how did you know?)

One kid with a weird 24-hour fever-and-headache virus equals one week of sickness (at least) in a household of 8 people. Should be a great week coming up, folks! Stay tuned for more news from Quarantine Central....

Finally, one question equals 21 varied responses on what to do for your husband for Valentine's Day. I'd say that Derfwad Manor is sacrificing the most for her sweetheart (turning off your computer for the entire day, mrs. g? Are you trying to make me look bad?); and I would like to advise Neil that if his wife wants Valentine's Day to be all about her, I say go with it. I mean, if you like her and all...

Which reminds me - never marry a man whose birthday is February 14th. A friend of mine did this, and every Valentine's Day she has to listen to him complain about having to buy her a present on his birthday.

Friday, February 08, 2008

*Knit, Purl, Roll The Dice*

Okay, today I was tempted to do a title, but no post. Get it? The opposite of yesterday? I am too clever...

I hosted the homeschool clubs again today, but I was ready for them this time. One of the mothers brought her new baby, who just happened to be attired in an EZ Baby Surprise Jacket (collective gasp from all you knitters who appreciate the serendipity of this occurrence) that she had made herself (double gasp). In other words, I have a new friend (and she isn't even imaginary).

Being a typical knitter, she immediately offered to talk me through the creation of a BSJ; in the same breath she insisted that I learn Fair Isle too (I was admiring the baby's hat). And, since she also homeschools, we'll get to knit and talk about home education curricula at the same time. Life doesn't get any better than that.

I played Yahtzee with David and Rachel after I put the baby to bed this evening. (I am making sure to mention this here so that you all know that I am not always mean to my children.) I was shocked when Larry offered to play, too. Then he was insulted that I was shocked. It's just that he rarely plays games with us, and when he does, he never gets very excited about what we are playing. He doesn't jump up and down and shout when he rolls a large straight, and he never offers a running color commentary on the game. I mean, what's the point in playing if you're just going to sit there and roll dice?

He was raised as an only child, sort of (his siblings are much older than him), so maybe he just can't understand the thrill of intrafamily competition. Those formative years are so important.

Sleep is important, too; and Larry is starting to grumble about my never going to bed until midnight lately. It's just that sitting up in a quiet house is so peaceful....I never want it to end.

What do y'all get your husbands for Valentine's Day? I mean, that you can talk about on a G-rated blog?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Aaack - No Title - Sorry!

Check out my weight loss ticker - down 2 pounds this week. Actually, I think the lady lied to me again. Those women probably just like messing with my mind. Either that, or the look on my face - you know, that look that says, "If my weight goes up again this week, I'm gonna wrap the cord on this scale around somebody's neck" - scared her into crediting me with some weight loss. Whatever. I don't feel any skinnier, that's for sure. I ate my Twix this evening though, I made sure of that.

I'm feeling lazy tonight - that's why I'm hyperlinking to all my old posts. I even get sort of annoyed now that I can't hyperlink in real life. I mean, when I talk to someone for real, I actually have to explain everything I'm saying rather than simply referring him/her to some past blog post. What a pain in the wonder it's easier to have imaginary friends than real ones. Also, the imaginary friends never ask you to babysit.

That last paragraph should worry me, but it doesn't. I've resolved to embrace this brave new world of Internet connectivity and networking and...and...whatever other buzzwords are out there, because what choice do I have? Do I really want to be the last person on Earth with a daily newspaper subscription? Maybe I'll even learn how to text messages this year. Then I could put my schoolmarm-ish past behind me and forget all those silly little niceties such as correct spelling and capitalization that were drilled into me as an impressionable young child growing up in the Dark Ages BI (Before Internet).....

Biographical aside - I almost went to the National Spelling Bee when I was 11 - that was back before these orthographical contests were dominated by professional homeschooled spellers; so far back that I can't even link to the newspaper article reporting my spectacular spelling success at the local level....

Quixotic - that's the word that tripped me up. Damn. I coulda been a contender.

It's late, and my fiendish neighbor is threatening to start knocking on my door again at 6:30 in the morning; so I'll sign off. And, for any gentlemen who may be reading this, remember - only one more week until Valentine's Day, so start panicking. You have a snowball's chance in hell of guessing what gift your sweetheart really wants. And we women love watching you guys sweat. (evil laugh here)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

You Can Dress Her Up, But....

I'm having a mild migraine day, and I hate it. I can't focus on anything without feeling like throwing up, I've still gotta amuse the kids, I've still gotta make it through the next 9 hours. When did my life become nothing but an endurance test, anyway?

Susie has a pretty dress on today. Susie has a pretty dress on every day. Because if she doesn't get to wear a pretty dress, she declares her dismay quite loudly, for about an hour. I just cannot withstand that sort of ferocious disappointment right now. Not, and get anything else done.

So she wears her pretty dresses and stands on top of the heating register in the kitchen and watches as her dress balloons out, which makes her giggle. It's a pretty good way to pass the time, actually. Now, if I started doing that, Larry might think my getting a job wouldn't be such a bad know, just to get me out of the house for a bit. Actually, I'm thinking that might not be such a bad idea; except that then I would have 2 jobs, because the babysitting fairy isn't going to just show up and watch my children and cook our dinner and do the laundry for free while I'm out working.

So, forget it. I'll remain gainfully unemployed, for the time being....

Despite her satisfaction with her wardrobe, Susie peed in her pants twice today. It gets old, you know? I want to take the money I've been spending on diapers for the past 16 and a half years and spend it on me. I'm getting to the age where my upkeep is going to become significantly more expensive, now that my naturally youthful complexion and my girlish figure are fast deserting me. I need to start planning for decent haircuts more than twice a year, and maybe some highlights, and those expensive ultra-spandex slimming swimsuits I see in the Lands End catalogs. And support hose - mustn't forget the support hose. I'm wondering when Larry will ask what the budget item "spouse enhancement" means....

Diapers - more than 16 years' worth of diapers - anyone want to try adding that up? Yikes.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I Heart NY

Woo-hoo! The Giants won! I'm excited, and I don't even like football. In fact, I didn't even watch the game really. Larry and I went out to dinner last night (when my best friend heard our plans, she said, "Well, at least it won't be crowded..."); but our table (and, yes, we were the only ones in the dining area, as a matter of fact) was near the bar with the big screen TV's, so we were sort of able to tell when someone made a touchdown (from the cheering). Does that count?

I fell asleep (no, not at the restaurant) before the game was even over; Larry told me the news this morning. The only reason I care is because he's from the Boston area, originally, and I'm from the New York area. So we frequently argue over who is better, those stuck-up Beantowners or the salt-of-the-earth New Yorkers...

I think I'll stop now, before I alienate anyone else. If you folks want to hear from a true Patriots' fan (as in, she actually follows the game), head on over to Amy's place.

Anyway, we went out to dinner to discuss how much of Larry's hard-earned money I plan to spend this year on those rugrats we call our children. Then we discussed just sending them all out to work, like in the good old days of Charles Dickens. Suffice it to say, I managed to polish off our sizeable tax refund in, oh, about 15 minutes (it would have been faster, but I ate some chips and guacamole while I was writing out the budget). Our waitress must have thought we were real romantics, sitting there with pad and pen and calculator, arguing over extracurricular activities. Ah, old married love....just makes your heart beat faster, doesn't it?

When we weren't discussing the budget, we were discussing politics (I told you we are a lot of fun, didn't I?). But it's just so exciting to think that Americans may just have a choice this November between 2 decent candidates, it's hard not to talk about it. I realized this morning that by the next Presidential election, 2 of my children will actually be voting. In fact, I think I realized that around the same time I realized that the gray hairs are multiplying at an exponential rate on my head....

Where was I? Oh, yes, now I actually have to sound intelligent when I discuss the candidates with Anna and Theo, rather than muttering something about "voting the bastards out." And I do like giving them a balanced view of why reasonable people would vote for either candidate, rather than demonizing half the voting population of the United States as many of our revered, um, statesmen are wont to do. I'm an unrepentant centrist, I am....

I also take great pains to explain to the teens that any candidate winning by a 3 or 4 percent margin, does not, by any stretch of the imagination, possess a mandate. 3 or 4 percent in a country the size of ours is barely statistically significant. Instead, the winner needs to reach out to the almost 50 percent (that's half, for you math-challenged) of the voters who did not elect him/her, so they do not feel alienated and unheard. The winner-take-all mentality exhibited by certain politicians on both sides of the red/blue divide is not a healthy one for any country.

Oh, gosh, it's gonna be a fun year, no?

I guess I'm feeling a little optimistic today. I mean, if New York can triumph over undefeated Boston in the Super Bowl, perhaps there is a teeny chance for Americans to agree on how to achieve health care for all, an unplundered environment, an end to the war in Iraq, and an economy that isn't going right down the toilet. One can always hope...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

And I thought Rachel's predicting my imminent demise was friend's son Jack (who is all of 5) walks around their house picking up items and saying, "When you're dead, can I have this?" Which is disconcerting enough, of course; but it becomes a thousand times worse when he asks the same thing of his visiting (and elderly) grandmother. He and Rachel would make quite a pair, don't you think so?

My friend called yesterday to remind me that I was hosting the boys' and girls' clubs for our homeschool group - in 20 minutes. My reaction?

I guess it had sort of slipped my mind. The good news is, it takes less than 20 minutes for me and the kids to scoop up all the detritus in our main living areas and deposit it in a heap on my bed. Oh, and close the door to the trash pit we call the laundry room. And all the bedroom doors, too. By the time people showed up, I was sitting on the couch, trying to smile and look relaxed (and breathing really hard).

Today, we watched it rain. And rain. And rain. The Midwest is inundated with snow, all the New England bloggers are complaining about the snow, it even snowed in Texas today, for heaven's sake; but we get rain. That bothers me. I wish someone would send their extra snow our way....

Oh, and Happy Groundhog's Day, y'all!