Wednesday, April 30, 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 covered in soap.

It was like this, only messier and harder to clean up...

So, instead of spending a peaceful evening knitting (Larry had taken all the kids out to see David "cross over" from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts), I spent my time learning that paper towels don't really do the trick in a situation like this. Old hand towels and cloth diapers worked better; though I needed to use so many, I had a full load of laundry to do when I was finished. Which was great, because, really, I don't do enough laundry. Why stop at 3 loads a day when you can do more? At least I didn't need to add detergent to that particular load (I did put in baking soda, however - I am Laundress, hear me roar...)

So, as you can see, the excitement never stops around here. Aren't you glad you stopped by?

Yesterday the kids and I walked to our local Ben and Jerry's and got the free ice cream cones the store was handing out (no, I don't know why they were doing that). And, yes, I was mean, making the kids walk all that way; but I figured it would heighten their appreciation for the unexpected treat. Plus, I really needed the exercise. I'm sure Susie was a tad puzzled that we were having ice cream, as she hadn't even pooped in the potty that day; but she's a girl who can roll with the punches, so she didn't let her confusion get in her way.

She peed all over the couch yesterday, by the way. Have I mentioned that? And again, on the hallway floor. It's worse than having a puppy. If she weren't so round-cheeked and squeezable, I would sell her to the gypsies. Maybe they would take Anna instead...she doesn't want to live with us, anyway.

Monday, April 28, 2008

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 great weekend, and here I am posting about laundry. Sad, really.

As Amy has already written, one thousand knitters is a sight to behold. And one thousand knitters marching across a small New England college town trying to be first back to the yarn store is almost surreal. And one very funny, very articulate knitter (aka the Yarn Harlot) attempting to sign copies of her book for all these avid fans/knitters is...well...awe-inspiring. And I'm not just saying that because she told me she likes my blog. Ahem. She probably says that to everyone. But, being pathetically needy, I chose to believe her.

And, of course, she may have said that because I once wrote that she is the rock star of the knitting world...

I met many bloggy friends. There was MadMad, of course, who admitted at one point that I was nothing like she pictured me. This confession of hers made me wonder if I were projecting some sort of false persona in my blog. But then Amy, of Live,Learn,Knit, insisted that I was exactly as she had always pictured me (and the feeling was mutual), which just goes to show something profound about blogging, if I could just figure out what it is. Persnickety Knitter was there, as was Newton's Knitting (whose hand-knitted vest was really cool) and Lily Potter Knits, both of whom carpooled with Amy...the list goes on. I felt as though I was having some weird sort of dream where all my imaginary friends were meeting each other.

Amy, I must say, demonstrated remarkable aplomb while speaking with the Yarn Harlot. Her poised performance was in marked contrast to my stuttering and giggling when brought face to face with the reigning queen of knitting. It was all I could do not to genuflect and kiss her book-signing pen. MadMad generously included me in her dinner plans on Saturday night, which included dining with some other knitting royalty (Melissa Morgan of Melissa-Knits). That just added to the weird dream-like quality of the weekend.

I met my first male knitter, who was very personable and urged me to listen to his knitting podcast. He obviously doesn't read my blog, or he would know that I am not yet technologically advanced enough for podcasts. Someday, though...

And I haven't even mentioned WEBS yet. Where to start? The shelves full of patterns and books? The room full of looms? The piles and piles of yarn all begging to be stroked and touched? I was reminded of the archaeologist who first gazed into King Tut's tomb, opened after thousands of years. The person with him asked, "What do you see?" and all he could say was an awestruck "Wonderful things!"

Yes - wonderful things, indeed. And wonderful people. And a hotel room all to myself on Saturday night. I sat and knit in the blessed quiet, interrupted only by MadMad calling at 10 PM to report that she had just shared an elevator at her hotel with the Yarn Harlot herself. I was beside myself with jealousy.

I got up early the next morning (why? I don't know). It was so peaceful to shower, dress, and dry my hair without having to talk to anyone, or settle fights, or tell people to do things. I ate a yogurt and nobody cried. I sat down and knit for half an hour, just because I could. I enjoyed my solitude so much, I started to think about running away from home and joining a convent (preferably one that supported itself on the sale of handknitted items); but then I remembered that, alas, I am not Catholic. Do you think affirmative action might require the sisters to take a few Jews?

Anyway, I got a lot of knitting done over the weekend. I was proud of the progress I was making on Rachel's little vest, and I decided to finish up the back of it during the Yarn Harlot's talk Sunday afternoon. There was just enough light in the theater to knit by. There was also just enough light to realize that, somehow, I had totally messed up my knitting the night before (and I couldn't even blame the kids for distracting me). So, while Stephanie Pearl-McPhee waxed rhapsodic on the joys of knitting, I was busy ripping out every single bit of the work I had accomplished during the weekend. But I did it cheerfully, secure in the knowledge that I was sitting among a thousand other people who all, at one time or another, had had to do the same exact thing. Misery does love company, you know.


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...

Friday, April 25, 2008

...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 this morning (she's staying at a neighbor/friend's house so as not to miss an orchestra audition tomorrow). And she looked downright annoyed as Larry attempted to explain to her the importance of locking the door behind her when she leaves the house. I mean, he is just so hung up on personal safety, and why are old people so paranoid, anyway?

At one point during our car trip, the driver in front of us threw some litter out his car window; so Larry insisted on playing Highway Police by honking at him. We happened to be stuck in a traffic jam at the time; if the driver/litterer had happened to be the truculent type, he could have easily gotten out of his car, walked back to ours, and smashed our windshield in. I pointed this out to my beloved in a rather heated tone, so then our kids were treated to a loud parental discussion of the merits/disadvantages of vigilantism. I'm sure it was educational.

No more Internet access until Monday, Lord help me; but I'll take notes, and we can all catch up next week, 'kay?

Thursday, April 24, 2008


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 special car treats to keep everyone happy in the car
6. Clean all the crap out of the car so that we can fill it with fresh crap.
7. Vacuum the car, since it is the first time in 4 months that it has been clean enough to vacuum.
8. Periodically threaten that no one is going anywhere if they don't leave me alone long enough to get all this stuff done.
9. Rummage desperately through pantry for Coke. Settle for diet Coke instead.
10. Realize Diet Coke ain't gonna do the trick.
11. Spank everyone soundly and send them to bed.
12. Enjoy some peace and quiet and foolishly decide I'll have time to finish everything in the morning.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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 a single afternoon, you should really stay near a bathroom.
2. Even if you do reach the same weight that you were before you started having babies, you still won't have that same fetching figure. Not by a long shot.
3. Losing weight does not eliminate the varicose veins. The sagging chin seems to be here to stay, also.
4. The reason they make you a lifetime member once you reach your goal weight? Because you'll be back again. And again. And again.
5. Being good and eating only your allotted daily points leads to hunger pangs at night, which in turn lead to recurrent dreams of eating huge ice cream sundaes and then sobbing because you've ruined your diet. The hunger pangs also result in your waking up to find yourself gnawing at your pillow.

There. Hope that helps. I'm going to stop neglecting my children now. At least, until noon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


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.

Add to that the fact that I have developed something of a nervous twitch at my periodically ant-infested computer desk - one that involves intermittently smacking my own fingers while typing because it feels as though ants are crawling on them - and another nervous twitch in my ant-infested kitchen that involves slapping at my shins because it feels as though ants may be marching up my legs.... what with all that and worrying about bugs laying eggs in my hair, I'm finding it sort of hard to relax right now.

Sitting in a bagel shop all day seemed like a good solution to me - but for some reason they didn't like having 4 of my kids wandering around the place all morning. So I had to give up my idea of insect-enforced homelessness and come back to our extremely expensive anthill of a house and snap at the kids whenever they wanted something to eat in our crawling kitchen. I would have fed them outside, but - wouldn't you know - it's raining.

Actually, raining is an understatement. There's a deluge out there, and we have a lake forming directly behind our house. I send the kids out to play in it, but they keep coming back in because they are wet. Sissies. I told them there was a tornado watch so that they would all stay in the basement and leave me alone. That worked until they got hungry again. What's a mom to do?

Reader, I fed them. And the ants came marching in once more. So I convinced Rachel to go after the intruders. Which she did with frightening enthusiasm. She'd focus in on one and squash it slowly and deliberately with her finger. She kept a body count.

I knew we'd be able to channel her decapitation obsession into something useful.

Monday, April 21, 2008

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 inside out. I managed to (slowly) take it back off and turn it around and sew it back on; but, truth to tell, that second time around? My heart wasn't in it. So I went to bed.

Yesterday I finished sewing on the second sleeve while my friend was visiting; and then, just to show off, I called Rachel in to try on her almost completed sweater. I do wish I had thought to take a video of her struggling to pull it over her head. Seems that picked-up collar is a bit smaller than it should be. And I have no idea how to fix it. I'd give it to Susie, but the sleeves are already long on Rachel.

My friend (who, I must say, is easily amused) got a kick out of it, though. So all that work was worth it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

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-length mirrors in the room, facing each other. (Crescendo)

Folks, I believe this room would be perfect for concerned relatives to hold Weight Watchers interventions for family fatties. I was treated to a full, uncensored view of the backs of my legs and butt (and boy, am I grateful for this blog's "no-photo" policy); 6 pregnancies have not been kind to the veins in my legs (to put it very mildly), and apparently, no one has notified the backs of my thighs that I am near my goal weight. In desperation (and avoidance), I moved my eyes upward for relief and saw the backs of my arms - only, they weren't my arms, they were some old lady's arms. If I hadn't been half-naked, I would have run out of there screaming at that point.

Where did all those folds of skin above my elbows come from? Was there some sort of exercise I was supposed to be doing all these years to prevent those? Why didn't somebody tell me?

The skirt looked nice, though. Thank goodness for clothes - it is beyond me why anyone would want to live in a nudist colony. Oh, and you ladies know that trick where you sort of pull the skin up on your thighs to see if you'd look better with a little liposuction? It makes the veins stand out more.

At that point, if I hadn't had my new haircut to save some tattered shreds of my self-esteem, impaling myself on one of those cheap plastic hangers would probably have seemed like a good idea....

I would like to stop discussing this now. Instead, I will wonder why, when David and I finally visited our (grossly neglected) community garden plot yesterday evening and discovered a veritable jungle of weeds, the words "poison ivy" never popped into my head. Because I am certainly thinking them now, as I sit up at 4 AM, blogging and trying to ignore the way my forearms are itching. I'm not sure weeding that plot by hand will be the way to go this year. I'm thinking a flamethrower may be a reasonable alternative. That is, after we subdue the growth a bit with a (long-handled) machete. And some napalm...

Friday, April 18, 2008


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 youngest, it was as if they had decided to act extra good, just to give the lie to everything I have ever written about them on this blog. Quiet as mice in the car, sitting politely at the one spilled water, no one started squabbling over the little packet of sunflower seeds that came with my salad, no one peed on the booth...and then, to really make me look like a liar, David graciously offered to watch the others in the Playland so that Kalynne and I could continue chatting.

Don't worry, Kalynne - they got back to normal as soon as we got home. That was a performance worthy of an Oscar, though. And thanks for the book! Drunk, Divorced, and Covered With Cat Hair is on its way...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

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?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

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 large family), I was awestruck by the organizational skills that are evidently required to run a place like that. And, as a person who attends Catholic Mass with her husband and children, I was also shocked by how modern it all was. I mean, the average Catholic parish simply does not have 2 huge video screens projecting the words of the hymns (complete with slideshow), accompanied by piped-in professional worship music.

So, at dinner tonight, when Rachel was commencing on her 5th glass of whiiine, I had a sudden vision of how to implement mega-church tactics in my very own house. Picture, if you will a large video screen mounted up in a corner of the kitchen, with the words "Shut up and eat!" scrolling continuously over a slide show of pictures of starving 3rd-world children gratefully shoveling spoonfuls of rice and beans into their hungry mouths....I mean, talk about getting our message across to the kids in a multimedia, 21st-century sort of way. I'm still trying to decide on the soundtrack. Suggestions?

Oh, also at dinner - I boasted to Larry about how I didn't even have to pay any back fines at the library today in order to be able to borrow some books, and he said, "Oh, really? Have they started automatically charging our credit card instead?"

Now, was that nice? You'd think he could give me the benefit of the doubt, for once.

Monday, April 14, 2008

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 that says each kid needs his own bedroom. And, really, the broom closet can be quite cosy for a tot. (Ha! Ha! Joke! All you Anonymous-es, calm down!)

Transportation - We spend a max of 6000 dollars a year on transportation, including maintenance, insurance, and gas (and even less if I can convince Larry to stop making us drive up to Maine every year - relatives, shmelatives...). Amortize the value of our minivans over 10 years, if you like, and that doesn't even get the total up to 10,000 dollars. So I cannot even begin to figure out where they get their figure of over 13,000 dollars a year per child. Does each child get a personal chauffeur, perhaps? The only thing really expensive about children and transportation is when they learn to drive. But I'd rather not think about that.

I don't have time to look at the figures for clothing, miscellaneous, education closely right now - but judging how far off the other estimates were, I don't have too much faith in them. Just trust me - it needn't cost you a quarter million dollars a year to raise each child. I mean, unless you want it to...

How To Raise Kids on the Cheap

1. Expensive birthday parties for elementary-aged children are not only unnecessary, but foolish. Remember, child expenditures only increase with age. If you spend 300 dollars on an 8-year-old's birthday party, you are doomed to spend at least double that amount on that same child's 13th birthday.

2. Do not spend good money on ballet/ice skating/tap dance/soccer/ice hockey lessons when the child is little. There's nothing quite so disheartening as taking out a second mortgage on the house to finance dance class just to watch your precious princess pick her nose and wipe the boogers on the ballet barre. Whatever they can learn at 5, they can learn way more quickly at 10 or 11, no matter what the money-hungry ballet school tries to tell you.

3. Don't buy them Happy Meals (gasp!) - you can get them a dollar double cheeseburger and a small fry (and water, because you are mean) for less money. Isn't that great? Even we penny pinchers can poison our children like the rich folk do. If the kid cries, eat half his fries. He won't try that again.

4. Don't buy stupid toys. And nearly all toys are stupid. Duplos, Legos, and some stuffed bears or dolls are plenty. Actually, you need buy only one stuffed animal; as we all know, these things multiply on their own. Any other toy you buy will end up sitting around unused, while your little darlings roll around on the floor and whine that they are bored.

5. Keep those expectations low. Remind your children, for years in advance, about how they are going to receive a brand-new bicycle when they turn 16. Repeat the words, "I'm not made of money, you know," ad nauseam. (You can vary that with an occasional "Money doesn't grow on trees!") Scatter community college and public university brochures about the house as they enter their teens. And, for heaven's sakes, encourage them to elope.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

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 Sturbridge Village and whatever else he can think of to do in that area.

No expensive hotels for us, particularly as the clerks start citing fire codes and insisting that we reserve 2 rooms instead of one. Luckily, there is inexpensive military lodging nearby, which is much better, anyway. Mini kitchens, huge rooms with pull-out sofas, laundry facilities (because, really, what makes a vacation better than doing laundry - we wouldn't want me to go through withdrawal or anything over the weekend)...

Sad, isn't it, that I think of Air Force guest lodging in western Massachusetts as a resort stay? I think I need to get out more.

The very best part of this plan is that I will actually meet other knitting bloggers that I have become cyber-acquainted with over the past 6 months or so. Unfortunately, Anna heard me discussing this with Larry and said, "You're going to a strange place to see people you've met online? I thought we weren't supposed to do that."

Don't you hate it when teens are right? But what could a psychopathic knitting blogger do to me, anyway? Unravel the hat I'm knitting when I'm not looking? Handcuff me with extra-long circular needles and steal my Paton's felting wool? We're Yarn Harlot groupies, for heaven's sake; this will be more like going to a Grateful Dead concert than anything else - only we will all be wearing hand-knits rather than tie-dye, and none of us would waste our hemp by smoking it.

See? Everyone is smiling, nobody's getting hurt.

Or perhaps I'm rationalizing, and I am setting a bad example for my teenage daughter. But, determined as she is not to do anything that her totally embarrassing mother does, I do think this may be a win-win situation...

Friday, April 11, 2008

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 mother of invention and all that; so, even as I despaired of ever being the fun sort of mother who makes Wow! birthday cakes, I suddenly remembered the Barbie Doll cake (check it out), where one uses a 2-qt measure to bake the batter in so that it comes out skirt-shaped. Which, I realized in a flash of brilliance (or maybe it was a flash of desperation), is also volcano-shaped. And thus great ideas are born...only, it didn't work quite as I envisioned.

Not very volcanic-looking, is it?

Not only did it look pathetic, but it was so dense and chewy as to be almost inedible. I made a regular sheet cake (that we could actually eat) and plopped my poor excuse for a volcano on top. And, whaddaya know? It still looked pathetic.

But Brian and David, bless their imaginative little-boy hearts, decorated it with frosting and lava-like frozen strawberries and little Monopoly houses and hotels, and they thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Really. It seems that my kids refuse to accept the fact that I am most emphatically not up to the job of giving them a fun childhood. They like me, in fact (well, the non-teens do, anyway). And how great is that?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

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 into the phone (in her sweet little 2-year-old voice), "Hi, Daddy! I pooped in the potty!" I sure hope Larry doesn't listen to his office voice mail on speakerphone.

How many times can I type some variation of "poop in the potty" in a single post? I'm up to 3 already. No, 4...and I am just getting warmed up.

It was spring-like here today, so spring-like that I even considered putting on my (knee-length) shorts. But I really didn't want to find out whether I could button them or not, so I put off that pleasure for another day. I did finally figure out a simple way to reach my goal weight, though - I increased it. So now, instead of being 7 pounds away from my goal, I am only one pound over. I feel so much skinnier! Larry was not impressed with my new approach to weight loss.

I really wish I could show you those Volcano Cake pictures....

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

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 we show it to David to make sure it isn't another duplicate. Of course we will be having Brian's favorite dinner - Skillet Lasagna. Only, the boys call it Kill it! Lasagna as they stab at it with their forks. Which behavior irritates Anna to no end. She also hated it when the boys taught Rachel (back when she was 3) to sing, "Pig brains for dinner! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!" Little brothers are annoying that way.

But it was a catchy tune. Sometimes I still find myself humming it. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

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 pretend we don't speak English."

I just wanted to buy some stupid Lego thing, not audition for the Theatre of the Absurd, you know? Next time, I'm going to Target by myself. And parking the way one is supposed to park. The non-confrontational way.

Anyway, after much discussion and back-and-forth (in English), Larry and I agreed on which Lego kit to purchase. When we got home, I proudly showed it to David for his approval. And he informed me that Brian already owns that particular set.

At least I know what my kid likes, right?

Monday, April 07, 2008

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 telling me (at least according to the voices in my head). So let me give you a few pointers on...

How to Get Your Children to Leave You Alone
(without resorting to screentime)
(because that's too easy, that's why; so quit whining and listen to me)

1. Hide in your bedroom closet (bring your knitting and a good book, of course); make sure to have a mini-fridge in there well-stocked with the libation of your choice and a bag of chocolate or two. Don't forget the Ott-Lite!
2. Announce to the kids that it is time to clean house and...and...hey! Where'd they go?! Works like magic...
3. Tell them you have hidden candy all over the house and they have to find it. This technique can buy you a lot of time; but it is not for the weak of heart, as the children tend to start crying when they (finally) realize you lied to them.
4. Send them outside to play; but remember to lock the door behind them. The little sneaks are always trying to get back inside, and they're not even bleeding! What's up with that, anyway?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

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.

Round is so cute. Maybe it will be the new black...

And, boy, could I identify with Opus's anxiety closet today. I mean, the librarian part - not the Clinton part - of course.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

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 something more manly - like, landscaping materials, say, or huge barbecue grills, or maybe even huge 4-wheel-drive trucks. The guys would be all over that. And we womenfolk wouldn't be stuffing our mouths with those blasted Thin Mints and Trefoils and blowing our diets all to heck.

Anyway, Larry left me alone with just the 2 little girls this morning, one of whom let me take a shower in blessed solitude while she looked out the window and said cute little things like, "Hi, birdies! Tweet, tweet!" (Really.) It's times like these that I enjoy having tiny little girls running around the house. Of course, they do grow up into great big girls that don't sound quite as cute (particularly when they are snarling in a most unbecoming manner at their little brothers); but I just try to take the good with the bad. We live in a fallen world, after all.

After my shower, and after picking out pretty outfits for everyone, and braiding some hair with some pretty hair ribbons, we took a leisurely walk to buy some bagels for breakfast; after that we sauntered over to the book store where my sweeties forced me (nicely) to read several Berenstain Bears books to them. I think there must be a special circle in hell where there is nothing to read but these particular books. And I really hope I do not end up there because, let's face it, I've suffered enough already.

I would have bought the Yarn Harlot's new book with my educator's discount card, but I couldn't think how to convince whatever nitpicker was at the cash register that a knitting humor book is essential to my children's academic studies this spring. [Larry just read this post and exclaimed, "Home Ec, of course!"] Nevertheless, my morning was quite pleasant, walking to the stores in the chilly spring morning and spending quality time with my 2 precious little girls. Rachel even rode her bike.

So now that we are home, you would think that all that mommy time and all those bagels and all those darn Berenstain Bears books would have translated into their leaving me alone for a bit, wouldn't you? But, as I type, Susie is lying on the floor underneath my chair, squeaking incessantly. Rachel keeps falling over and injuring herself, and I swear it's on purpose. I've tried bribing them with cookies, but it didn't work. And, really, I'm done being a nice mommy for now - I've been doing it all week.

Why am I working a job where I don't even get Saturdays off? Someone remind me...

Friday, April 04, 2008

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 the boys' and girls' clubs here this afternoon; and one of the mothers mentioned how important it is to know your child's love language. I thought she was kidding and I started to laugh; so now she thinks I'm a monster. But, really, what parent needs a book to tell them that their kid needs a hug, or some praise, or maybe some one-on-one time with Mom or Dad? Parenting is more common sense than rocket science.

Make that, common sense and endurance...eighteen-plus years of teeth-grinding endurance...

I escaped from the house again this evening, because Theo had a job interview at a local supermarket. For some reason it took almost 2 hours. What's up with that? I mean, the kid is applying to be a cashier, not president of produce or anything. I had forgotten my knitting, so I convinced my best friend to meet me at the nearby Barnes and Noble (that's why she's my best friend, 'cuz she'll do that) and we ate banana-chocolate-chip pound cake (low fat!) and discussed the similarities between teenagers and dementors. Then we read magazines together and I tried to figure out how to answer my cellphone.

And I wonder why my teens think my life is boring....

Thursday, April 03, 2008

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 have no idea which candidate I am voting for this November. Every day I change my mind. If you're waiting in line for the voting booth, and you see the person ahead of you frantically flipping a coin? That'll be me, I'm afraid...

But I do think we've got a bunch of good choices, for once. And that makes me happy. If this campaign isn't making you happy, it's because you haven't listened to its front-runners take on the challenge of making an omelette, brought to you courtesy of Garrison Keillor and his gang. (Look for "Segment 5" and then "the omelette script")

It also makes me happy that so many other people in the blogosphere are library deadbeats. I think Jenn won the prize yesterday by admitting to "...the time I had $300.00 in fines and kept hiding the notices from my mom until the Marshal showed up at the door with an arrest warrant." There were a lot of good contenders, though; so I would like to thank all of you for playing "Why My Librarian Hates Me." You're great! What do we have for the winners, Johnny?

Excuse me, I'm just giddy because I am being allowed out this evening to attend Knit Night. And I don't even have to wear the ankle monitor this time. I've come a long way, baby...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

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 dad Larry spent 24 hours with on the Boy Scout camping trip? The one whose son became best friends with David? Turns out Larry learned neither his last name nor where he lives. This incident just may explain why Americans resorted to torture* to get information out of detainees: the interrogators were male and had no idea how to gather information in a normal fashion.

*If you are one of those benighted individuals who doubts whether waterboarding is technically torture, I suggest you go experience it; then come back here and make your report. Make sure to bring pictures so we can see what a great time you are having.
[No one splits legal hairs better than our current Administration, I must say.]

And yes, I did let my toddler poop in her pants while I wrote this post - how did you guess?