Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mr. Darcy, Unleashed

This is for any Mr. Darcy fans out there.  Beware - there is one VERY LOUD curse word that my children have unfortunately learned from this video.  But I promise you, it is not at all gratuitous.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I'll have time to chat later; right now I am busy readying Rachel and Susie for our homeschooling group's annual family camping trip.  For 2 days and nights, Larry and the girls will be sleeping in a tent, using dirty toilets, and eating hotdogs and canned soup with ten other families.

Gosh, what a shame I can't go...

Meanwhile, Brian will be away at the local Boy Scout camporee for the weekend, leaving only David (aka the Silent Teen/Computer Genius) here at home. 

Oh, fellow moms, imagine the quiet!  The blessed quiet!  I can feel every molecule of my body relaxing at the very thought.  I don't know about you, but I don't mind housework so much as I mind the interruptions.   So this weekend, while scrubbing the tub and organizing the clutter, I'll be focusing my entire being on the task at hand rather than anticipating the inevitable "Mommy!" that falls upon my ears approximately every 10 minutes during a typical day.

Like this, only I'll have a toilet brush in one hand and Lysol Wipes in the other

And, yes, I do love and appreciate time with my children.  The dosage has been rather high lately, is all.   And a weekend camping trip seems like a more practical solution to that problem than my vague plan of running away to a convent somewhere and spending the rest of my life in silent contemplation.

Besides, I don't know if convents take Jews.

[Meditation image: AU Health and Wellness]

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mostly Mozart

Okay! Larry has returned, bearing truly marvelous chocolate; I fixed the broken toilet all by myself (meaning, I waited 2 days and then tried flushing it again and nothing bad happened); and no bats got into the house while Larry was gone.

I call that a win-win-win, don't you?

These chocolates are awesome; but, not being conversant in German, I don't know what's in them.  Tastes like marzipan plus some sort of liqueur plus something else...maybe I'll bring the box to the girls' art teacher and have her translate it for me.

Or maybe not, because then I would have to share...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In Which I Am Left Alone To Ponder My Victimhood

Hey, it's another one of those fun weeks where Larry gets to travel to interesting places around the world on business while I stay home waiting for another bat invasion.  Try not to be jealous - not every gal is as lucky as I am.  Just think!  I can feed the kids pizza tonight and not even feel guilty about it. 

I'm thinking I should just put the local pizza place on speed dial, already.

This is NOT our toilet. But I bet it works better.
And, naturally, the minute Larry left, one of the toilets stopped functioning correctly.  Now, normally, this would not be a problem.  After all, we have 4 (yes, 4!) toilets in this townhouse of ours.  Unfortunately, the toilet that went on the fritz is NOT the toilet that resides in the bathroom with the non-working sink.  So now we have to use the toilet in the master bath and then walk all the way over to the main bathroom to wash our hands.

I know!  We suffer.  I blame the Obama administration.  If it hadn't coopted me into being such a dependent victim, maybe I could figure out how to use the toilet plunger correctly. 

[Toilet image: Pix O'Plenty]

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Prefer Whistling

A lot has been written about the importance of giving children chores -- all about how it makes them feel more responsible and capable to be contributing to the household, blah, blah, blah.  And, even though my personal experience has given the lie to those theories, I still insist on my kids doing their fair share around the house, if only to make sure that I don't feel like the household slave.  I also cherish the hope that, by teaching my boys how to do laundry and wipe down bathrooms, I will earn the undying devotion of my future daughters-in-law. 

But, as always, practice and theory do not sit well together.  Yes, I am able to sit here checking my Facebook page as my 7-year-old finishes up her household tasks; but all is not as paradisiacal as it might seem.  Tell me, people, can it truly be worthwhile to make a child wipe down the table and sweep, if that means I am then subjected to a very shrill* concert of songs she makes up as she completes her chores?

*Fingernails-on-a-blackboard shrill, in case you were wondering...

I'm thinking that perhaps the answer to that question is NO.

[Girl sweeping image: KidClipArt]

Friday, September 14, 2012

A River In Egypt

The humidity finally dropped around here, making it once more worthwhile to be alive.  We've taken advantage of the fine weather by walking EVERYWHERE - Michael's, the bagel shop, Harris Teeter.  The kids love it.

Oh, ha, ha, ha - I slay me.  No, they don't love it.  And they REALLY hate my God gave you legs for a reason lecture. Which is really too bad, as I am getting quite good at delivering it.

Maybe I'll make them walk to pick up a pizza? 

Sorry, nothing else to relate.  My mind is full of politics, but I won't inflict that on you - not today, anyway.  I guess we could start a betting pool as to when Larry will show up this evening.  He keeps working late, which I don't mind so much as the fact that he's in utter denial as to how late he is actually coming home.  I mentioned something this morning about his 9 PM arrival time home last night.

"I left work at 8!" Larry insisted.

"Well, you must have hit a lot of traffic, then," I told him. "I called home at 8:55 and David said you weren't home yet."

"I was home by 8:30!"

"Look! Right here on the Caller ID - you called from work at 8:32."



"Oh."  He walked away shaking his head, still clearly puzzled.

Denial is no match for technology.

[Man driving car image: BlindGossip]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I'm thinking of rechristening this day as "Hug Your Spouse Morning."  Is there anyone who doesn't take an extra minute on 11 September to say good-bye to his/her better half before heading out to work? 

And here I thought, 11 years on, that I might not even bother to blog about it today.  After all, what is there to say that hasn't already been said?  But it's a Tuesday, just as it was 11 years ago.  And it is a perfect fall day - perfect - just like then.  Tell me, how can such a beautiful blue sky feel so ominous?

So I couldn't let Larry walk out that door without asking him to take care of himself today.  And I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only spouse doing that this morning.

[Twin Towers Memorial: Sustainable Flatbush]
[Pentagon Memorial: MLA Penn Design]

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Wild Kingdom

I went to IKEA today with an old friend.  We hung out for 3 hours, discussing all the furniture on display, our kids, and our husbands and treated ourselves to lunch -- all without children in tow.  Go ahead - be jealous.

But this post isn't about IKEA.  It is about Larry, and his obvious non-fitness for fatherhood.  It seems that, while I was out, NOT BUYING ANYTHING BUT MEATBALLS DON'T WORRY LARRY, Larry thought it would be amusing to point out to Rachel that the neighborhood cat was in our front yard, stalking a chipmunk that had taken refuge in our dogwood tree.

Please note: Rachel thought the chipmunk was very cute.  Rachel was bonded to this chipmunk.

Cartoons lie.
One can only wonder why Larry thought this would end well.  After all, this was not a Tom and Jerry cartoon, where the prey always wins.  Oh, no, this was reality.  And cats, as we all know, are expert hunters of small rodents.  Expert.

This fact was driven home in the most unfortunate fashion to my 10-year-old daughter as she stood there laughing with her daddy at the silly kitty, which was busy staring intently at the tree and swishing its tail and giving every indication of going in for the kill.

In reality, the cat wins.

Larry reports that it only took an hour for Rachel to stop crying.  And - silver lining! - we can check "Food Chain" off our list of things to learn this year.

[Tom and Jerry image: wikipedia]

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Remembering Jack

Today?  It's bright and sunny.  But, only a year ago, we were experiencing a freak rainstorm, a once-in-a-century event - 9 inches of rain fell in one day, wreaking havoc on roads, trees, and homes.  My kids spent the day (once we endured a nail-biting drive home from the library through flooded intersections and past fallen trees) enjoying YouTube videos of people inner-tubing down major highways and going outside to play in the massive puddles and the usually barely-a-trickle creeks near our home.

Usually barely-a-trickle...

Something nudged me as I stood in the kitchen, preparing dinner, secure in the knowledge that my kids were having fun outside -- something brought to mind the creek that ran behind our rented home years ago, when we lived in Rhode Island, how it became a raging torrent the day after some heavy dangerous that I couldn't let the kids play in it as usual...

I grabbed my raincoat and ran outside (and believe me, I don't run easily), down to the creek, praying to catch a glimpse of those 4 bright-colored raincoats (one belonging to a complete non-swimmer).  The kids had wandered far afield, however; and I had plenty of time to play various scenarios - none of them good - in my head as I ran alongside a creek that had indeed swollen to unbelievable proportions and strength.

I almost passed out from relief when I found them, happily wandering back from their outing, shouting to me about what they had seen. 4 bright raincoats, tragedy averted...

Jack, the day before the rain
But there was a local blogger that day who wasn't so lucky.  Anna of An Inch of Gray also became concerned that afternoon and went outside to look for her 2 kids.  She missed by seconds seeing her son Jack swept away by the rushing waters of what was usually a harmless backyard creek.  She has had to live for the past year with self-recrimination and with the knowledge that, really, all we take for granted hangs by a thread.  You can hear her speak in this video of the piece she read at Listen To Your Mother DC this past May.

If you would like to let Jack's mother Anna know we are thinking of her, join in on the simple memorial idea for Jack that Momastery is hosting on its Facebook page.  Let her know that her sweet child may be gone, but he is not forgotten.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Day of Reckoning

Susie, in the process of unloading the dishwasher this morning, managed to break a dinner plate.

As an aside, all those parenting books that extol the virtues of teaching your children to do chores? They had better not list "time-saving" as one of them.

Where was I? Oh, yes - Susie dropped a dinner plate, bringing our total number of extant plates down to 4. Those of you well-versed in arithmetic can probably see that 4 functioning dinner plates is not at all an adequate number in this house. So, I (not too unhappily) trotted off to Target to procure some more.

Historically, I've bought the ugly, cheap sets of dishes at Target - you know,  the ones with the black or blue stripes around the rim that sell for 12 dollars per set of 4 plates, bowls, small plates, mugs.  I get 2 boxes, and I'm set for a couple of years until our inventory runs low again.

Cheery and bright!

But, this time, I splurged. I didn't need a whole set, I reasoned - I had plenty of ugly bowls and matching small plates left. So I picked out 6 plates in a color I actually liked for $2.50 each. It felt extravagant, but - hey - I'm worth it. 

I'm sure both Ann Romney and Michelle Obama do this sort of budget calculus all the time.

And now I can pack up the old plates for Anna's new place, because that's the great thing about having a child move out on his/her own -- you have a handy excuse to offload your old stuff and purchase new.

Any bets on how long these new dishes last?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Convention Week Fun

My Internet crapped out on me just as I was settling in to watch Michelle on CSpan.  Thanks, Verizon!  I had to listen to her on the radio, as if I were Grandma Walton or something.

That's me - front row, 3rd from the right

When the Internet came back later, I checked out Cory Booker's speech on YouTube.  I don't understand why everyone is raving about Julian Castro - Cory is the guy to watch.  When's the last time Julian rescued a constituent from a burning building, eh?

And how about that Governor Deval Patrick?  It sounded like a tent revivalist meeting in the convention hall while he was talking. 

I'll say one thing - I watched both conventions, and it was sure easier tonight to find non-Caucasian faces on the convention floor tonight than it was last week.  I'm just glad my Internet was working during Clint Eastwood's bit.  I would have hated to have missed that.

And now, tell me - when did I turn into a politics geek, anyway?  When I first met Larry, I never even listened to the radio.  He even had to explain to me what NPR was. 

He's sorry now, I'll betcha.

[Waltons image: Denise Wymore]

Monday, September 03, 2012

Rip Van Winkle Watches TV

Elizabeth?  Is that you?
Last night, thanks to my lovely magic box, I watched the first episode of Downton Abbey.  The costumes!  The intrigue!  I'm in it for the long haul now.  There's no turning back.

But Elizabeth McGovern is freaking me out.  Whenever I hear her name, I picture her as she looked 25-30 years ago. The last time I saw her in a movie, I think it was "She's Having A Baby" with Kevin Bacon.  Before that?  "Ordinary People."  

So, each time I see her face in Downton Abbey, I experience a shock -- and I'm thinking it's pretty much the same shock I feel whenever I look in the mirror and don't see a young 20-something woman looking back at me.

Just more of my Rip Van Winkle syndrome, I guess...

[Elizabeth McGovern photo: Tom & Lorenzo]

The Magic Box

This is us - just add a few kids
Larry and I, it must be fairly clear by now, are not yet fully ensconced in the current century.  For example, our TV is one of those old types that you see offered on Freecycle (with no takers) every single day.  If we want to stream something from Netflix, say, we gather the kids around the computer desk to watch whatever it is on the 19" monitor.  For a while we have known that there is probably a better way to do this sort of thing, but we haven't been able to figure it out.  For a time, David had even rigged up some cables from the computer and dropped them through the floor vent to our family room below; that somehow enabled us to watch a not-very-clear picture of some movies on our quaint TV.  But the set-up stopped working, and we couldn't figure out why.

I know - we sound pathetic.  But we were resigned to our fate.  Mostly.  I mean, I did have a hankering to see Downton Abbey; but there just didn't seem to be a way. 

Anywhoo, a friend of mine and I have recently instituted a gals' movie night, because ...well, do we really need a reason?  Our plan is to only watch movies our husbands would hate.  That way, we can enjoy our cinematic experience without feeling waves of resentment and disgust emanating from our fellow viewers.  Foreign films, chick flicks, touchy-feely whatever...oh, it is glorious!

So!  The first night I go to her house, and it turns out she has one of those comfy family rooms where you can actually enjoy watching a movie.   "Let's check Netflix," she said, settling on the couch and picking up her remote.

"What?  Netflix on your TV?  Don't you have to go upstairs to your computer?" asked Ma Ingalls here, taking off her prairie bonnet and smoothing her skirts as she sat down in front of the fancy flat screen HD whatever.

The magic box
"Oh, no, we just have a little box here..." my friend said.


I must say, she seemed a little taken aback by my urgency.  But I couldn't stop.

"Do you need a fancy TV to use it?  Where did you get it?  How does it connect to Netflix?" I demanded.  "TELL ME NOW!"

"Well, I don't really know...I guess it connects to the wireless, right?" she said, eyeing me a little uneasily.

"It's THAT simple?  Just a new TV and a little box?  We don't all have to huddle around the computer to watch a Three Stooges episode?"  I couldn't believe it.  A short 10-minute walk to Best Buy and I could watch Downton Abbey like everyone else?

I spent the next few weeks researching prices and dragging David to Best Buy to explain things to me.  Turns out that kid knew about the little box all along.  "WHY didn't you tell me?" I asked him.  "I NEED this!"

So, today - today was the day of reckoning.  "Look!" I said to an unsuspecting Larry, brandishing the weekly Best Buy circular in front of him.  "Look!  A TV!  On sale!  And a ROKU box!  Do you have any money?"

You know what's interesting?  It's way easier to convince my spouse to buy electronics than to buy bedroom furniture.  And, yes, our mattress/boxspring is still on the floor.  I'm pretty much used to it by now.

[Old TV image:]
[New TV image: CNet]