Saturday, July 31, 2010

Greetings from the Stone Age

Would you believe, I just discovered the wonder of playlists?  I know! It's amazing I even have electricity in my cave.

Oh, and the Flintstones say hello.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blogher '10 Doesn't Bug Me

In case you haven't heard...

BlogHer ’10 will take place on August 6 & 7, bringing over one thousand attendees together to celebrate 2010.

All the other bloggers are talking about what they are going to wear, who they are going to meet, which parties they are planning to attend. And in past years, left to tend the home fires while the other bloggers party it up,  I've felt a tad disappointed.  I tend to sit around that weekend like a wistful Cinderella,  wishing that the BlogHer fairy godmother had gifted me with a conference ticket and a babysitter.  I avoid reading the after-BlogHer blog posts.  I might even pout a little bit.

But not this year, folks - this year, I'm glad to stay home.  And why?  Because this year, my friends, the conference is being held in New York City.  While I consider New York City to be one of the best cities in the world (and the only place to get a decent bagel), there is one problem with this location.

 Did you click?  Bedbug capital of the world, people...New York City is turning into Bedbug Central.  Have fun!  Network!  And sleep tight...just don't let those bedbugs bite...

I'll be sitting right here at home with my peculiar bundle of bug phobias, feeling not wistful at all.

[NYC photo credit:]

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

We're back.  I'm not saying it was easy.  I'm not saying I didn't contemplate leaving the car at a rest stop this afternoon and wandering off.  But we made it.  6 hours on the road, sitting crammed behind the front passenger seat and next to a 5-year-old who never stops talking, I tried desperately to enjoy what should have been quality creative time ("What are you making, Mommy?  How many?  Is it done yet?"); but really, I just wanted to stab myself in the head repeatedly with my crochet hook....

Family travel is not for the weak.

We spent the last few days (on Grandpa's dime) at a resort-y place in the mountains.    Now, Larry and I are used to vacations where we drive someplace cheap (usually some military recreational base), cook our own food, drag our offspring to local historical sites and natural wonders, and occasionally find some water to swim in.  The afternoons are spent watching the kids play with other children who are staying near us while we lie around and try to recover from the morning's outing.

So non-stop entertainment of children is not our norm.  Not that we didn't have fun, but it was a hectic sort of fun - we needed a schedule.  Boats on the lake in the morning, swimming in the afternoon.  No opportunity for naps.  I mean, my nap - the kids don't need them anymore.  It was exhausting.

One day it rained; in desperation,  I introduced Susie and Rachel to the joys of BINGO.  The game appealed to them, which is no surprise, given their natural gambling proclivities.  Then we visited the HUGE indoor playground, where - wonder of wonders - there was a vending machine which sold socks.

Striped socks.  Pink socks.  All sorts of socks to wear in the playland...we had never seen the like.  We gazed upon this marvelous machine like noble savages catching our first glimpse of modernity.

Oh!  But the best part?  There were bars at the pool.  Bars at the lakefront.  Everywhere I turned, fancy summer drinks were being sold.  Now, I am not a drinker.  The taste of alcohol holds no appeal for me.  But that first day, when we went down to the splash pool where a big sign advertised the "Drink of the Day" - a Caribbean Cooler, if memory serves me correctly - I had a sudden urge to lounge elegantly by the pool, sipping my glass of cranberry and orange juice with a dash of vodka, while my children played in the water.

I had no idea people did that anymore - I mean, it is just so Mad Men, isn't it?  Is this how the rich still live?

And do you think Larry and I could pull it off?

[HappyRoadTrip image:]

[Sock picture:]

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Search For Tetris

Well, we're set - packing's done, right down to the requisite knitting supplies for a 6-hour car trip.  I managed to jam enough sock-weight yarn into my bag to make 4 pairs of socks.  Which I can start on once I finish the one pair that I have been working on for the past 2 months or so...let's see, 2 months for one pair...and, um, 3 days for the next 4.  That makes sense, fellow knitters, right?  Isn't there a certain momentum built in if I immediately start a new pair?

But just in case my math is off, I also brought the yarn Susie wants a scarf made out of; oh, and then there are the 3 skeins of cotton that I am crocheting place mats from.

I hope I don't run out.

Larry and I hit 3 stores tonight, frantically searching for a handheld Tetris game for the car.  The one that saved our sanity on the trip last year is fading away, and we're scared to embark without this addictive marvel of electronic amusement.  We learned, to our dismay, that this item is the elusive holy grail of the toy kingdom.  We left Best Buy (our last stop) crestfallen and emptyhanded, but not before I noticed what looked like a Hello Kitty version of Tetris.  Eureka!

Alas, there was no such thing; what I had espied was simply a Hello Kitty shell for an Ipod Touch.

Did anyone catch that?  I'll repeat - a Hello Kitty shell for an IPod Touch.  Can someone please explain to me who is spending 200 dollars on expensive electronics for girls young enough to be into Hello Kitty?

Fare thee well, my imaginary friends!  Larry is waking me at 5 tomorrow morning, cruel man that he is.  But that's all right - I'll make him listen to Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers for the entire ride.  Listening well is the best revenge.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ice Dreams

Look - I'm trying not to complain about the heat around here, okay? But truth to tell, all I can think about at this point is buying a large Slurpee at my local 7-11 and smearing it all over my face and neck.


Luckily, we are escaping to the (hopefully cooler) mountains for a few days this weekend (thanks to Grandpa, who has decided he sure as heck can't take it with him). We're meeting Grandpa and Uncle Matt somewhere 6 hours from here - you know, just throwing the kids and a few suitcases in the car and hitting the road. We're nothing if not spontaneous. All I have to do tomorrow is wash everyone's laundry; pack clothes, food, and enough emergency medicinals to save a small village from the plague; and clean out the minivan formerly known as pristine.

And shop for "car snacks," as my kids affectionately call them...

And go to Brian's band camp concert...

And take the children to the pool because it will be approximately 357 degrees here on Friday...

Must. Have. Slurpee.

So maybe it would be a good idea to get a decent night's sleep tonight. No staying up to play hanging out on Twitter...absolutely no blog-hopping...

Although I might just squeeze in a quick trip to 7-11 before bed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taking Care Of Business...

People! Please! Put down those torches! I am in no way forcing my poor children to eat a vegetable that they despise. First, they all ate it last week and enjoyed it. True story. Second, they were free to leave it on their plates - all it would cost them was the measly cookie I was handing out for dessert. There's none of that ridiculous "Sit at the table until you eat it" nonsense around here - if I don't have the kitchen cleaned and EMPTY by 7 PM, I go berserk. Nor is there any "If you don't eat it now, you'll see it for breakfast" shenanigans. Who the heck could eat cold sauteed zucchini for breakfast? I think I would feel sick just serving it.

Sheesh - next time, tell these frightening childhood stories to your therapists, okay? I'm going to have nightmares.

I did take note of your complaints about my slow-loading blog. That happens to me, too; but I had been thinking it was just my poor, overloaded computer that was at fault. Flinging caution to the winds this morning, I checked out Blogger's new templates and was pleasantly surprised - they've come a long way since this blog's Creamsicle days, I must say. So I trepidatiously clicked on a few items and - TA-DA! I have a new look. Blogger even let me keep my polka dots.

Refreshing, isn't it? Feels almost as good as when I get a new hairstyle and it didn't cost me a penny...

Oh - and most important of all - Derfwad Manor is back and all is right with the world. Hooray! We missed you, Mrs. G!

Monday, July 19, 2010

If You Can't Take The Zucchini...

Dinner this evening was its usual hairshirt of an experience, with Brian objecting strenuously to the presence on his plate of sauteed zucchini (which he liked last week) and begging me to let him off the hook.

"Nope," I said, sticking to my guns. You see, those of us who have been moms for a while know that the other children were watching this scene closely. If I excused Brian from zucchini duty tonight, I would have a summer-long vegetable revolt on my hands. "Eat the zucchini or no dessert," I told him, my heart breaking as some of his tears plopped onto his food.

5 minutes later, during which I studiously ignored her zucchini-averse weeping brother, Susie sighed and handed me her empty cup. "Could you give me some more water?" she asked. Gesturing at her own pile of zucchini, she added, "I'm gonna need it to get these down."

Get these down? Sheesh, it's a tough life for a 5-year-old around here, isn't it?

[Zucchini duck: Alex Gee's photostream]

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Let There Be Light

As discussed before, we have an issue with lighting. I've tried over the years to find lamps that are attractive and functional; but these home-decorating attempts generally saw me staggering out of stores, weeping in confusion. At one point, however, I did manage to find a pair of cast-iron (i.e., unbreakable) end table lamps at Target. And white shades that fit said lamps. I bore my purchases triumphantly homeward, believing that my search for decent living-room lighting was finally ended.

Oh, I loved those lamps! They graced our second-hand end tables and IKEA couches with a certain je ne sais quoi. They announced to the world that good design need not be fragile. On bad days, I would look at my matching sturdy lamps with their bright white fluted shades and feel fulfilled.

But those halcyon times were not meant to last. Rachel's reign of terror commenced. At one point during her rampage, she was cutting electrical cords for amusement. I know! I explained to her the danger (while diligently attempting to hide all cutting implements); and she apparently listened, as she always made sure thereafter to unplug the cord before she severed it. Little Miss Safety, we called her...

So! One of my precious lamps soon sported an attractive wad of electrical tape on the cord. Its as-yet pristine twin was subsequently shoved off a table by some forgotten kid scuffle. It survived, but the shade now hangs askew.

I got used to it. I even accepted ugly lighting as my fate. But, as hope springs always eternal, we bought a new lamp, a standing one, to go in the den. It could even employ a 3-way bulb, so that we would have a choice between lighting that was merely atmospheric and illumination that would be bright enough to read by. Hello, modernity!

But, for some reason, we never had a 3-way bulb when we needed one. So we would use a boring 60-watt (as in, not bright enough to read by) instead. But last week? Oh, last week was momentous, indeed! After almost a year of owning this lamp, I procured a 3-way bulb and actually remembered to install it. Light flooded the room, and all was well with my world.

This happy state of affairs lasted not 24 hours. You see, Theo had the temerity to tickle Susie. Who kicked. Which knocked over the lamp and made something go POP. And now? My 3-way bulb is stuck on 50 watts.

I don't know if I have the heart to try again.

[Table lamp photo credit: Furniture Complete]

[Floor lamp photo credit: Terry's Fabrics]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Losing My Cool

The other day at Target I bought a long-coveted cooler on wheels to use at the pool. For 3 years, I've been looking to find this type of item on sale; and I realized on Friday that, if I weren't so cheap, I could have been enjoying this particular piece of equipment for 3 summers already. So I slapped down my 40 bucks and wheeled it home.

Oh, I was so excited! No more would the children fuss and fight over who had to carry the heavy cooler bag from the car to the pool. No longer would I have to adjudicate over who carried it last, and for how long. Life as I knew it would be simpler, happier, more care-free - all because of this remarkable invention.

I guess you other moms know what happened, right? All the way to the pool, I listened to 3 children argue over who would get to pull the amazingly fun cooler-which-rolls. I endured lengthy discussions over who had gotten to take it from the house to the car, and who had received the honor of pulling it through the entire store on the way to the register. I almost wept along as Brian sobbed that he always had to carry the heavy cooler bag and now he would be stuck with the equally heavy bag of towels if he weren't afforded the privilege of pulling the new cooler.

I don't even remember who won. But my head still hurts from where I was banging it on the steering wheel.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Wherein I Feel Like A Poor Excuse For A Human Being

I escaped to the bookstore to do my editing this evening. I say "escaped," because Susie was in full whine mode as I walked out the door. "Good luck with that," I told Larry. I'm heartless.

So there was a kid right near me in dinosaur pj's whining. Loudly. At 8 PM in the bookstore. Didn't I come here to get away from all that? My normally compassionate-to-other-mothers self allowed me to give one brief glare in his general direction. A glare his mother saw. "Good," I thought. "Maybe she'll shut him up. What is she, deaf?"

Well, yes, actually - she was. Maybe the hearing aid and the ASL should have tipped me off sooner. Somebody smack me, will ya?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Happy 5th of July!

Despite the 2 illnesses currently rampaging through our household, we extended a July 4th invite to friends of ours because, I guess, we are compulsive entertainers. Also? We live in squalor unless someone is expected to visit. These friends proved themselves to be somewhat devil-may-care by saying yes to, "3 of us have colds, and Susie is languishing from her 4-day fever/headache; ya wanna come over and have a cookout?"

Then I didn't sit down for the next 5 hours, what with cleaning bathrooms and swiffering floors and just trying to make things presentable. Even after 20 years, I don't seem to have gotten the hang of effortless entertaining. Is there some secret to it that everyone is keeping from me?

So! Our foolhardy friends brought 3 kids and 2 dogs to Plague Central here. Battle-hardened parents themselves, they didn't even blink when Susie threw up her dinner. In fact, our guests actively participated in the ensuing discussion of whether it was actually Susie or maybe one of the dogs who had barfed. Based on the forensic evidence at hand, we decided it was Susie; because the dog hadn't eaten any frankfurters.

Do I have to draw you a picture?

Don't worry - our friends got even with us by having their dog poop in our family room. Then the menfolk took the kids out to the fireworks, while the other mom and I lounged around the house and talked about how hard our lives were. Oh, and we had pie - lots of pie. Store-bought, of course. And our neighbors sent over a cheesecake they didn't want. When it rains, it pours.

Today? I reveled in my still-clean house and served party leftovers for all three meals. Pie for breakfast! Now I call that a holiday.

[BBQ image credit:]
[Doggie photo credit:]

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Not-So-Glorious 4th

We had grand plans for our 3-day weekend - a BBQ with friends, camping with the kids (Larry, not me - my plan involved staying home with the indoor plumbing and the a/c), maybe a free Saturday evening live concert, and of course those glorious Independence Day fireworks! We didn't even know how we were going to squeeze it all to fit into 3 measly days.

But, hey - why do all that when everyone could just start coming down with assorted ailments instead? Susie is recuperating from a mysterious 4-day fever/headache that I am sure the rest of us are incubating, Theo and Brian are suffering a vicious head cold/sore throat combo which makes me want to buy myself a hazmat suit, and now Larry seems to be coming down with something or other. Naturally, our friends are refusing to visit, my chances of a day off while Larry and the kids go camping are fading fast, and I'm spending my time chugging orange juice in a desperate attempt to render myself immune to any and all incipient viruses and infections.

Oh, well, there's always Labor Day, right?

[Image credit:]

Friday, July 02, 2010

Swagger Wagon? You Bet!

Probably every single person in the world has seen this already, but it is brand new to me:

I can't imagine why they didn't ask Larry and me to do this video. I'm sure we could have rocked it. And we can fill our 8-seater Sienna to capacity, unlike these lightweights.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Making Memories

Yesterday I was seized by the unnatural (for me) desire to take the slipcovers off the living room couch and armchair and shake them out, in order to rid them of all the tiny bits of I-know-not-what that tends to accumulate under the seat cushions.

It's frightening, I know. But these fits of domesticity will happen; and, having found that the best thing to do is to go with them until my accustomed slovenliness returns, I obeyed the impulse and gave the slipcovers a good shaking outside on the back deck.

Theo happened to walk into the living room just as I was putting the slipcovers back on the furniture.

"Oh!" he said. "Has someone thrown up?"

If only punctuation and font could convey to you, dear readers, the tone in which that question was asked. It was a tone usually reserved for "Is it time to get the Christmas tree?" or "Isn't it that time of year we make the hamantaschen?"

Yes, the vomit rituals in this family - the ginger ale, the saltines, the cleaning of the slipcovers - are so entrenched into our collective experience that my children (apparently) look back on them fondly; much the way other children - children, let's say, who have grown up in less puke-prone households - look back on summer vacations at the beach or visits to Grammy's house. In our home, vomit on the couch is a Norman Rockwell moment.

I can imagine my offspring at family gatherings future, reminiscing about their childhoods together: "Hey, remember when Brian ate too much of the cherry pie? That was so gross!" and "Remember when Mom had to cut Rachel out of her pajama top, because she didn't want to get the puke in her hair?"

I don't know where I went wrong...


Someone from the Department of Health and Human Services was reading this refrigerator post today - should I be worried?