Thursday, August 29, 2013

Those Damn Painted Ponies

We had a belated bowling party for Rachel today.  Her birthday always lands somewhere during our summer vacation, so we end up postponing the festivities, as she doesn't consider a McDonald's Apple Pie with a candle stuck in it to be an appropriate commemoration of the day of her birth.

Entitlement, folks - it runs rampant around here.

Anna got 2 of these
We invited about 15 girls to the party, and - its being August - only 4 of them could make it.  That beats Anna's 11th birthday party - only 2 girls could make it to that one; and then, just to make the day extra special, they both ended up giving Anna the exact same present

So Larry and I ended up driving 6 girls (Susie rounded out the guest list) to pizza and bowling.  The guy at the bowling alley looked at us sort of funny when our small crew walked in, as we were required to pay for 12 guests in order to book the party.  The party room did feel a little large for us - add to that the fact that most of the girls who attended fit the classic introvert personality type, and we had what was probably the quietest birthday party ever.  Seriously, I've been to funerals that were less sedate.

And now I get to change Rachel's age over in the sidebar profile there, while marveling at the fact that she was a wee lass of 4 when I began this blog.  I don't know where the past 7 years have gone; and I'm not sure I can bear watching everyone get older and older in these pages anymore.  It's painful to have such a tangible record of time passing, passing, more swiftly than I ever could have imagined when I started writing here, back in the days of babies and nap times and toddler tantrums.  It makes me want to go back and make up for all the times I ignored her pretty little self while I typed at the computer or read my email.  Anyone else want to hug each of their 2-year-olds just one more time?

Still, I cling to the hope that my grown children will treasure these family stories someday.  I even fondly imagine that they will read these pages and recognize their mother as a fellow human being and not just as the flawed parent who begged them to just stop talking and who sneaked their teddy bears into the trash.  Maybe the incidents I relate here will even make them feel better about their own grown-up lives, imperfect as they are bound to be.

Birthdays make me maudlin, can you tell? 

And, yeah, I AM listening to "The Circle Game" over and over.  What of it?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time Warp

When I hear the name Linda Ronstadt, I picture a 20-something ingenue with long hair and a heart-shaped face.  At the same time, I hear her singing "Blue Bayou" in my head.  Also, her cover of the Buddy Holly song "That'll Be The Day" - I hear that, too.  And have I mentioned that I saw her live in The Pirates of Penzance in Central Park?  She played opposite Kevin Kline.

Why am I inflicting on you these unsolicited reminiscences?  An article tonight on the home page of The New York Times announces that Linda Ronstadt is suffering from Parkinsons and cannot sing anymore.  My Rip-van-Winkle brain simply can't wrap itself around the reality of her current picture; nor can it grasp the idea of that voice being silenced.

Some sort of impostor, I guess
This is who I remember

Folks, the confusion this engenders in my psyche is second only to that which I experience when gazing into the bathroom mirror in the morning.  Who IS that person there, anyway?  And don't even talk to me about the vacation photos I just spent two hours editing.  That VERY middle-aged lady hanging out with my kids on the beach?  I'm not sure who she is, but she sure looks a heck of a lot like my mother.

Linda will always be young to me.  Let's all listen, okay?  For old times' sake....

[Linda Ronstadt image: Sodahead]
[Linda Ronstadt image: The Hollywood Reporter]

Monday, August 26, 2013


Well, I've come up with a new way to determine whether or not someone is the crafter type.  All you do is show them this website.  If they go "Hunh" and shrug their shoulders in a non-committal way?  Not crafty.  If, however, they react as my Rachel did - i.e., "Oh, wow, that's the neatest thing ever!" and immediately start cutting plastic grocery bags into strips to use as plastic yarn (plarn)?  Crafty.

Mine doesn't look this good
 So, yes, today was spent crocheting plastic strips into bug-proof, waterproof sleeping mats for children in Haiti.  Crafty and virtuous!  We won't talk about the first 3 attempts that I had to tear out - sure would help if somewhere among these online instructions someone had mentioned that I needed an N size hook.  But no matter...the girls are inspired and I feel useful.  Join us!

[Plastic mat image: Island Dreams]

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Early To Bed...

Time to catch up...

I haven't posted since Wednesday because I realized that I felt much better during our camping vacation when I was getting to sleep at a reasonable hour every evening.  So I've been trying to do the same here, but - as you can see - it has seriously affected my ability to blog.  Blog?  Sleep?  I don't know yet which one will win out.

It has been over 6 weeks since my ears were pierced, but I still haven't tried to change out the earrings because I'm scared to remove the ones I have in.  Anyone care to come over and help me out here?  I feel like an idiot.

I have way too much crap in my house.  TOO MUCH.  I almost felt better living in the pop-up, just because it wasn't cluttered.   I need to do something about this situation, I know.  I mean, aside from the solution I suggested to Larry last week - run away from home and live in the camper.

I must say, much as I dislike the whole concept of camping, I LOVE hanging out with other campers.  You get to compare camping set-ups and equipment, hear about other campgrounds they've visited, pick up good tips for where to go, etc.  Also? You hear normal families acting like...well...normal families.  We were next to a family with 5 kids (3 of them teens) that shared one tent.  I must say they behaved better than my kids would have in that situation; but I could still hear their mother saying things like, "NO FOOD IN THE TENT! NONE!" and hear the siblings bickering over sleeping bag placement.  And then there was the morning one of the girls poured too much milk into her dad's coffee, making it overflow onto his lap.  The whole campground got to hear a tirade delivered by a man clearly pushed to the edge by the camping lifestyle.  Or maybe it was just the camping-with-teens lifestyle.

Gosh, I wonder what they are blogging about us? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lessons From Camping

No campground bathroom will be perfect.  We stayed the last 2 days at a place with bathrooms that were practically brand new.  It boasted automatic sinks, automatic paper towel dispensers, and that new fancy hand dryer that actually works.  The shower area had a nice long bench plus individual dressing areas for each shower.  Seriously, just looking at this bathroom brought tears to my eyes, even before I discovered the thermostat that allowed one to turn on the heat on chilly mornings.  A heated bathroom! 

The snake in this Eden?  There were no hooks near the sinks to hang a toiletry bag on.  NO HOOKS.  Every campground bathroom needs hooks.  How else are you supposed to unzip your bag and get your toothbrush out?

And let's just not talk about the mouse, okay? 

You will only be able to locate those items that you do not need at that particular time.  For the first 5 days of our trip, I KNEW where my Carmex was.  I knew where it was because it kept showing up.  I'd look in my purse for my keys or my Excedrin, and I'd pull out that darn Carmex, for which I had no use.  Or I would search for tweezers in my toiletry bag, and I'd find the Carmex instead.  5 DAYS.  And then, on the sixth day, I managed to sunburn my lower lip.  (This condition is fully as painful as it sounds.)  Could I find that tube of Carmex?  No, of course not.  It was as if it had never existed.

There will come a day in the middle of the trip when you and your spouse will stop talking to each other.  Do not panic.  This is a necessary stage in that life experience known as a family camping trip, and there is no getting around it.  Whether it stems from an argument over who last saw the tube of hydrocortisone cream or the realization that the person with whom you are yoked for all eternity thinks it is a good idea to wake you at 5:30 AM to pack up the campsite, it will pass.

Laundry can be your friend.  A trip to the campground laundromat doubles as much-needed me-time.  There is no shame in informing your spouse that you are going to go keep an eye on the dryer for a while.  If you are still on speaking terms, that is...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mission Accomplished

The Holy Grail of Summer Refreshment
We're back from our camping adventure in Cape Cod. (And still married!  Miracles never cease.)  For today, I present to you photographic evidence of the realization of my long-desired goal - to once again taste a certain delectable hot-weather treat obtainable in only one (very) small state. On our way up to the Cape, Larry and I made a detour through Newport, RI, ostensibly to remind the kids of all our favorite haunts in that lovely town, but really? We were plotting to get our hands on some authentic Del's Frozen Lemonade, a delicacy too infrequently sampled during our year-long sojourn there, an entire decade ago.

It took some doing, as there was no available parking at the beach; but David and Brian and I jumped out of the van and ran to the Del's truck while Larry circled around and around, trying to look inconspicuous despite the camping trailer and 6 bicycles he had in tow.  "6 mediums and hurry!" I barked at the hapless college student manning the truck, who - to judge from the startled look on his face - probably wasn't used to waiting on someone suffering a 10-year-long Del's deprivation. 

Don't worry, I tipped him. 

We located Larry (not too hard, as he was pretty much making a spectacle of himself) and jumped back into the van, each of us juggling 2 lemonades and some straws and napkins and looking for all the world like a bunch of addicts who had just pulled off an illicit drug deal.  Larry drove off with us all taking hits of the lemony frozen goodness through our straws, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the deliciousness of it all.

Happiness, folks - frozen happiness.  It's that simple.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pee Me A River

 It's no secret here that I have been pregnant 6 times.  And sometime during every one of those pregnancies, I would end up with a killer cold that left me with a hacking, never-ending cough.  And, what with all the pressure on my bladder, coughing meant peeing in my pants.  Every. Single. Time.

I hated that.

I remember trying to take a walk - hacking away like a TB patient, I would have to stop and lean on lamp posts, with my legs crossed, all in an effort to keep from wetting my pants.  I had to wear maxi-pads, just in case, which seemed terribly unfair, as one of the benefits of pregnancy is that you aren't menstruating and therefore shouldn't have to wear those things for 9 months.  But I comforted myself with the thought that, once I was done having babies, I would no longer have to wear any sort of ANYTHING in my underwear.  I could actually be a normal human being again.

That look on her face?  Leakage...
 But, um, 6 babies, people.  I emerged from the baby years with the realization that there would always be a little leakage when I coughed or sneezed.  It's called LBL (light bladder leakage) by the industry.  That's what I am now - a menopausal LBL sufferer.  Sexy!

So I took to wearing some typical light days pads every day.  Problem was, I had to worry about them.  Change them if I sneezed without crossing my legs.  Check them to make sure they weren't at capacity.  And I dreaded the day I might have to switch to the dreaded maxi pads again.

Happily, that won't happen.  I won't have to start wearing a maxi pad that isn't really designed for the job of preventing public embarrassment, because Poise (which, yes, is sponsoring this post, but I actually use their product, even when they DON'T send me a free sample) has pads specifically made to accommodate light bladder leakage...

Light bladder leakage is industry-speak for PEE, I believe.  I just wanted to lay that out there.

Where was I?  Oh, yes...menstrual pads, you see, don’t absorb as quickly, so you’re more likely to leak.   And believe me, nothing says not ready for prime time quite so loudly as pee running down your leg at the new job you've managed to procure after 20 years at home raising the kids. 

In addition, the Poise pads trap odor.  Because, really, as a 50-year-old woman, the last thing I need -- in addition to my sagging jawline and my tendency to say, "Is it hot in here or is it just me?" -- is to go around smelling like a bus station restroom.   I mean, it's bad enough that my advancing senility requires me to apply deodorant several times each morning because I can't remember if I've done it already - I don't need to be worrying about other odors, also.

Tell me that's not just me with the deodorant thing.  Please.

And, glory hallelujah - these pads are unscented.  There are no obnoxious migraine-inducing perfumes that only serve to mask smells, since these pads actually absorb the odor.  And they come in different thicknesses - let me just brag a little here by saying that I am still using the ultra light absorbency size.  That means I've got 4 more levels of absorbency I can use before I am forced to shop in the adult diaper aisle.  What can I say?  It gives me hope.

So, yeah, while I would totally prefer not to have to wear ANYTHING, I'm glad there is a pad specifically designed for this problem -- that is, designed to trap leakage and neutralize odor.  Now if Poise would only invent some sort of tampon-like device for the urethra, I might even be able to stop peeing in the pool, too.

Get workin' on that, fellas, will ya?

Now, if any of you are dealing with the same issue, I advise you to make the Clean & Fresh switch by getting a free sample or coupon for Poise pads and liners.  And here is where you can read more about these products, without having to listen to my ramblings about my menopausal senility and its impact on my personal hygiene habits.

In addition, I am authorized to give away a $100 Visa gift card to one lucky commenter.  Simply leave a comment telling all of us  telling all of us one post-childbearing/menopausal development that you did not expect.

Sweepstakes Question (prize is a $100 Visa gift card):   What physical change surprised you when your childbearing years were over?

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random drawing and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 8/13/13 – 9/12/13.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sibling Lament

We finally hit the road at 11:15 this morning.  Or, to put it another way, over 3 hours later than we had planned to get going on our road trip/vacation.  It wasn't pretty, folks, but we've made it halfway; hopefully tomorrow will go better.

This morning -- while Larry and David wrestled with the bicycles and came up with a VERY creative way to tie 3 of them to the top of the pop-up camper (creative in that it involved one rectangular fold-up table and LOTS of rope) -- I ran around the house, trying to clean up and ordering the younger kids around.  At one point, hearing Brian and Rachel snapping at each other, I said, "Come on, guys! We're not even in the car yet.  You can't possibly be on each other's nerves yet."

This statement was followed by a silence long enough that it allowed me to start congratulating myself on my superior parenting skills, getting my squabbling children to see reason like that; but then, from the front hall, came Brian's voice, low but distinct, a voice speaking out for all brothers with younger sisters, from time immemorial:

She ALWAYS gets on my nerves.

You've got a point there, buddy.

Photo Finish

We are experiencing our typical pre-camping trip frenzy here, trying to do laundry and pack and maybe even print out some Mapquest directions to where we are going tomorrow.

These people will have GPS before we do.
That's right, folks - we still don't have GPS.  What really bugs me is that Larry persists in thinking that it's really modern and cool to go to Google Maps or Mapquest.  "Oh, I'll Mapquest that," he says airily to people we know, not realizing how 2003 he sounds.  Embarrassing.

Adding to the vacation prep confusion was our realization (at about 7 this evening) that we do not own a working camera, aside from the one on Larry's IPod Touch.

I know!  It's like a Flintstones episode, only without the pet dinosaur.

Now, normally, Larry (aka Mr. Spreadsheet) would be researching Consumer Reports and a zillion other websites to figure out exactly how many pixels we need and how much zoom and all that.  Then he would have to find the cheapest camera that fit his specifications.  The process would consume weeks of his life, entire evenings spent in front of the computer, ignoring me and the kids.

But not this time.  I ran into Best Buy (literally, ran) and started checking out the cameras priced $150 and lower.  A sales person came up and I told him, "I need a camera.  I need it now.  It can't have that stupid little mini SD card, because that drove us crazy with our last one.  Oh, and it needs a rechargeable battery." 

"Well," he said.  "There's this one here - it's got 8 zoom."

"That sounds good," I said.  "I'll take it."

Who says old marrieds can't be spontaneous, eh?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Out For Blood

We cannot walk out our door right now without being set upon by what must be the most hyperactive mosquitoes known to man.  It has gotten to the point where I WANT to go camping, just to get away from these horrible creatures.  True story - last year, over 8 days of camping in central NY, I received only one mosquito bite.  ONE.  That's right - I can live outside somewhere else and still not suffer the way I do here, with window screens and children trained to CLOSE THE DOOR DAMMIT and multiple applications of bug spray.

This is my friend.
I am living in hell.  A mosquito-ridden hell.  I'm sure Dante had mosquitoes in one of his Circles, they just got lost in translation.

When we adults stand around outside talking, as neighbors are wont to do, we end up doing this funny little dance where we are slapping first one calf and then the other, in a futile attempt to stop these blood-suckers from biting.  "So, you're going away next week?" Slap, slap.  "Yes, we're heading to the Amazonian jungle.  We hear there are fewer biting insects there."  Slap, slap.   "Oh, well, we're going to Tanzania.  Their mosquitoes only bite at night."  Slap, slap.

Because, yes, ours are out ALL DAY.  Lucky us.  You know what would be a great business idea?  A burqa-shaped version of those DEET-soaked mosquito nets handed out by relief organizations in Africa.  When you see one on the fashion runways next year, remember that you heard it here first, people.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Packing Lists

Has anyone used one of these lately?
Okay, we're all feeling a little better now.  But while we were sick, someone from the 1990's stopped by and left a pile of phone books on our front porch.  Any ideas on what to do with these anachronistic monstrosities?  I don't have any kids young enough to need a booster seat anymore.

I think I'm supposed to be getting ready for our camping trip to Cape Cod.  Although, aside from the 15 loads of laundry I always end up doing the day before we leave, I can't really think of what I need to do.  I mean, I've already bought the requisite camping junk food.  Maybe I'll just go through my yarn stash and plan my knitting activities for the week.  Although that might bring on another attempt by Larry at an intervention...

Vacation bliss
I've got a pile of books (left from my birthday) to pack, too.  I keep looking at it and rubbing my hands together in anticipatory glee.  There's non-fiction memoir-type stuff, as usual: one by Dani Shapiro called Slow Motion, another by Roger Ebert titled Life Itself.  Oh, and here's new territory (for me): a book by Mary Roach, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife.  I've never read anything by her, so I'm looking at it as a growth experience.  Also, the word "science" is in the title, so it counts as educational, right?  And, speaking of educational, I've got a puzzle magazine, too.  It's never too early to start fending off Alzheimers, you know.

I think I've forgotten how to spell "Alzheimers."

You know, maybe I'll just send Larry out sightseeing with the kids every afternoon while I take a break in our pop-up trailer with my books and my knitting (fingerless mitts!) and my cryptograms.  That sounds like an awesome vacation to me.  Anyone agree?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Plague Alert

I'd like to blog, but I'm too busy catching some new plague from my kids.  Headache, fatigue, sore throat - all the fun stuff.  Brian and Larry are the only ones not felled by this monster yet.  SO, I spent the day watching the house get messier and messier.  Cuddling a sick Susie.  Watching "I Love Lucy" episodes. Making more jam, because ripening peaches wait for no man (or woman, for that matter).  Oh, and I had to go to the grocery store 3 (count them, 3!) times, even though I spent no less than 600 DOLLARS at the commissary only yesterday.

My life is sort of stupid, sometimes. 

Maybe tomorrow I can tell you all about my new FitFlops, and our upcoming "vacation," and whatever else is happening around here.  Right now, I'm going to pop some more Excedrin and go to bed.  Some Mondays really aren't worth getting up for.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Survivor - Lego Version

For some reason, for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW, I was nominated to be the parent who takes Brian to the much-ballyhooed BrickFair, a Lego fest of unprecedented proportions.  And, really, for a decent description of this affair, just read last year's account.  Only, this year, we arrived ahead of opening time, so we wouldn't have to be at the end of a long line that wrapped all the way around the huge convention hall, the way it did last year. 

Lego minifigures sort of weird me out
Unfortunately, everyone else did the same thing.  So we waited in a huge line for half an hour.  But that's okay, it wasn't raining - much.  And, hey, it wasn't 95 degrees.  Plus, the vendors were handing out all sorts of freebies to keep us happy.  I saw from the event maps they gave us that the dreaded Lego Bingo would be happening once again.  (I told you, read last year's post.)  The convention hall - once we got in - was mobbed with people, sending my crowd-averse self into spasms of anxiety; and the loudspeakers were blaring, "It's BINGO!" in a manner reminiscent of the radio dj's yelling, "It's Groundhog Day!" in the movie of that same name.  Over, and over, and over...

You know what?  I figured, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  Or maybe it was just that the noise and the crowds broke me down.  I paid 3 bucks for Lego Bingo chips (the money went to some children's charity), picked up my free Lego Bingo card, and spent almost an hour trying to win one of the fun Lego prizes.  Then I wandered around the exhibit hall amongst the Lego nerds and tried to blend in, even though I wasn't sporting a T-shirt saying "Got bricks?" or "Brick Warriors" or (my favorite) "What Would Jesus Build?"  I even bought a few Lego stocking stuffers for Brian. 

I'm trying to see how many times I can use the word Lego in this post, apparently.

When we (finally) came home, I took a nap, because being around all those people is simply exhausting.  Woke up, realized I hadn't planned dinner, fed everyone leftovers (which they had already had at lunch, but I don't care anymore), and called it a day. 

It's just once a year, folks.  I can do it.  I'm a survivor.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Rip Van Winkle Watches TV

Today was one of those days where it wasn't hot enough for me to realize that the humidity was killing me.  I languished all afternoon, wondering why I wasn't getting anything accomplished and pondering the futility of all human endeavor, until Larry came home from work and said, essentially, "WTF?" and turned on the air conditioning.

I feel better now.  The hazelnut chocolate a friend brought me from Italy helped also.  I have nice friends. 

Just what the doctor ordered...

In other news, I have finally gotten around to watching the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.  I know!  I haven't really lived until now.  Watching Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy smolder with repressed passion is like a hazelnut chocolate bar for my soul.  Sigh.

So now I am watching it AGAIN with a friend who has been similarly deprived.  I'm just wondering what in the world there is to watch once we are done with it.  I mean, what can even remotely measure up?  Suggestions?

[Milka Hazelnut image: Austrian Supermarket]