Thursday, August 20, 2015

Don't Let Me Agree To This Next Year

It's late, I need to get to bed because we are supposed to get up at the crack of dawn to finish loading the car and hit the road, I'm tired as all get-out - but I need to blog RIGHT NOW so that I remember just how hellish this day-before-vacation was.  Errands, Anna leaving for college (and God bless the friend who helped drive her things down, no way I could have done it today), Larry being called in to work unexpectedly, the girls apparently having none of the right clothes to pack, my realizing after dinner that I still had to EMPTY THE REFRIGERATOR....

Let's just say it wasn't pretty.  I was tossing out plastic containers full of food, left and right, without even stopping to photograph them. What a tragic waste, both of comestibles and of a decent blog post, right?

Larry the workaholic redeemed himself by dealing with the 3-week-old fettucine.  I knew there was a reason I married that man.

Has anyone noticed? Rachel turned 13 last week. THIRTEEN. That means that she wasn't all that enthusiastic about having to help with a million things all day, ranging from cutting up the watermelon to going outside to pull the recycling and trash cans around front.  Granted, all 3 kids are still adjusting to David's being gone; they are still in the process of figuring out that his absence means more work for everyone left behind.

Rachel is thirteen.  You know, Larry and I have been dreading that particular milestone for 9 years, ever since Anna was apparently kidnapped by extraterrestrials on her 13th birthday and replaced for several years with an alienated teen clone. The special day itself passed undramatically, but there has been a definite uptick in attitude around here. You would think I would be immune to it, but no.  No one is immune to the disgust emanating from a put-upon teen girl. NO ONE.

By the way, Rachel's cake wasn't this fancy.  In fact, I forgot to buy candles, so she had to settle for a numeral 5 and a numeral 4 paired up with 4 individual candles.  Get it? It adds up to 13.

Yup, we made her do math on her birthday.

So yeah, today was a mess. I'm exhausted, Larry's exhausted, and we still have to load the car, attach the camper, close up the house, and drive at least 9 1/2 hours tomorrow. Pray for us - we'll need it.

[Cake image: Pinterest]

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Be Prepared

Quiz: what do 2 kids moving out to college, plus 2 birthdays, plus preparing for a 12-day camping trip look like?

A. 2.4 gazillion trips to Target
B. A lot of pizza for dinner
C. A house that looks as though it threw up on itself
D. All of the above

If you guessed the answer was D, congratulations! If you didn't, well, never mind.  I don't want to hear about how organized you are.

Larry came home last night and said, "So, have you been getting ready for our trip?"

12 days worth, right?
"Sure," I said. "I've figured out which projects I'm bringing, downloaded a few extra patterns in case I change my mind, and inventoried my needles to make sure I have the right ones.  I'm missing a size, but no worries - I can make it to the yarn store tomorrow."

He kept looking at me, so I said, "Did I forget anything?"

"I guess I was hoping you'd say something about clothes or food," he said.

Men - they just need to get their priorities straight.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


I forgot that I promised last week to tell y'all about Brian's job search.  You see, he's always been the entrepreneur of the family, making money hauling garbage cans around front for the older ladies of the neighborhood, watering neighborhood plantings, mulching and weeding people's yards.  And it's a good thing, because this kid NEEDS money.  Those Legos aren't going to buy themselves, you know.

Brian's preferred work environment

Anyway, lately he's been saying he is sick of weeding people's yards and wants a real job - one with air conditioning and maybe an employee discount.  At the local movie theater, say.  Only, he's just 15, which makes it difficult.  Most places won't hire a 15-year-old, because of the restrictions on how many hours they can work during the week.  Never mind that he is a homeschooler, these rules still apply.

So I drove him to a local grocery store which will sometimes hire 15-year-olds to bag groceries. He went in to talk to the manager, while I trailed him into the store at the required mom distance and headed over to Produce to wait for him. I noted that he paused at the entrance of the store to allow an older woman to precede him through the door.  "Good," I thought. "My son knows not to knock down little old ladies.  That's something."

I've been raising teens for a while, people.  The bar, it has been lowered.

So, after 10 minutes, Brian joined me in Produce. "Well?" I asked him. "Did they give you a job?"

"I'm too young," he reported. "There's a small chance they might use me just for weekends, but I have to come back when the hiring manager is here."

We turned to go and were approached by a woman, the same one who Brian had waited for at the entrance. "Are you his mother?" she said. "I just want you to know that I think this young man is very polite.  He was so pleasant to me when we were coming in!"

"Well, thank you," I said, glancing at Brian, who was looking embarrassed. "That's always nice to hear."

"You know," she continued, "He mentioned he was here looking for a job. I really need someone like him to do some yard work at my house.  Let me just give you my number..."

I managed not to laugh, but, as soon as we got into the car, I yelled at Brian, "You got the WRONG JOB!" And Larry and I followed him around all that evening chanting, "Destiny! Destiny! No escaping destiny!" in our best Gene Wilder voices.

I can't imagine why he pretends not to know who we are anymore.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Parental Abandonment

Larry drove David to college today.  I know, I should be used to this by now, but truly it isn't the grown teen I am missing.  You see, the problem is that, when a grown teen walks out that door for college, the cute toddler he used to be goes with him.  Oh, I miss that little guy! So my couch is currently strewn with photo albums full of pictures of David, at age 2 and 3 and 4, looking exactly the same as he does now, only trapped in a body that is much shorter and rounder.

It's sort of like Muppet Babies, you know?

Anyway, I felt like grabbing him as he headed to the car and saying, "You do know how much you've meant to me, don't you?" But I didn't, because he doesn't.  He never will.  Parenting, although it has its rewards, is still somewhat of a one-way relationship.  And that's okay.  Most days, anyway.

There was MORE than this.
The past week David spent packing and attempting to clean out his room.  Remember, David is the family packrat.  The engineer/artist in him sees a potential use in everything, which prevents him from consigning anything to the trash can.  Somehow, despite all this, he managed to cull out and pack the essentials, box up for the attic other items he wasn't ready to part with, and generally clean out his desk, dresser, and closet.  It helped that he and Larry had spent an entire day a few weekends ago going through David's collection of defunct computer parts and disposing of them.  (Believe me, when you have a techie kid, EVERYONE gives him their leftover electronics.) 

The resemblance was remarkable

But last night, late, he turned to me and said, "My room isn't quite cleaned out." Now David, if I haven't mentioned it before, is a master of understatement, so I knew I was in trouble.  And it's true - a cursory inspection this morning told me that I have some work to do in there.  But not today. Today is for looking at old photos and wondering where the heck all that time went. Today is for remembering how, at age 3, that kid looked and sounded EXACTLY like Tweety Bird - big head, tiny body, and a speech impediment that had him saying "tat" for "cat."  Today is for reminiscing about all the times David, aeronautics aficionado that he was/is, patiently explained to me the principles of flight (apparently, it isn't magic, as I had supposed).

Today, above all, is for wondering how we will make it to December without David around to fix all our stuff.  I picture him coming home for Christmas and finding us regressed to living like cavemen, reading by candle light and cooking over open fires, as our computers and tablets sit silently with darkened screens, passwords irretrievable, software out-of-date.  The floor under the Christmas tree will be bare, devoid of gifts, due to my inability to log onto Amazon. His younger siblings will run to him and cling to his legs, pleading desperately with him not to leave them again with their technology-impaired parents.

Yeah, we're scared we can't handle life without him. What of it?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Child Abandonment And Medieval Pestilence

News round-up time! First, these people are my people. As someone who has left a toddler in both a bakery and in an elevator, I feel nothing but empathy for them. My favorite sentence in the article is "They reportedly asked their other children, a boy and girl, if everything was okay, and no one noticed the toddler was missing."

90 miles - they drove 90 miles before they figured out that someone was missing. Well, actually, they never did figure it out on their own. The police called them.

Summer travel tip for families: if it is too quiet in the back of the car, it is TOO QUIET.

The time we left the toddler (Brian at the time) in an elevator? The other kids and I only realized my mistake when we heard cries of "Mommy! Mommy!" coming from behind the closed doors. We managed to get them open, only to ROFL (all 5 of us) at the sight of the poor kid's face, which was looking as traumatized (and cute) as only a 3-year-old's can look when his family deserts him. If only phones had cameras back then...

Very festive

And...looks as though I am not visiting Colorado any time soon. That's right, folks, the plague is back! For those of you who enjoy Renaissance festivals, where people stroll around in medieval garb and gnaw on huge turkey legs while watching jousting competitions, how about getting a little more realistic and dressing up in those cute doctor costumes from the Black Death days? I think that would definitely add to the authenticity, don't you?

And, hey, another victim (from California) contracted plague at a campground! So much for a healthy family vacation, huh? Note to self - sell camper and stay home this summer. Things aren't looking too good at the national parks. Let's see...grizzly bears killing hikers in Yellowstone, more plague in Yosemite, and tourists dying from heatstroke in New Mexico...

Sterile, air-conditioned suburbia is looking better and better, if you ask me.

My health? Thanks for asking - the shingles pain seems to be subsiding (without the rash ever appearing), but I picked up a stomach bug which didn't let me sleep last night. Looks as though the talismanic properties of our 7Up bottle are wearing thin! Maybe I should just toss caution to the winds and dump it down the sink?

No. Maybe not. There's too much going on this week.

Tomorrow - how Brian got the wrong job. Stay tuned!

[Plague doctor image: Portland Center Stage]

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Time Flies, Even If You Don't Throw Your Clock Out A Window

I know it's been quiet here, but 2 birthdays plus 2 kids packing for college plus (incipient) shingles has made for a complicated week.

That's right, incipient.  That darn rash hasn't appeared yet, so the doctor won't prescribe the anti-viral drugs for me. Any guesses as to when it WILL appear?  Say, on the first day of our 14-hour trip to Maine for a 10-day camping vacation in a remote location far from medical care? BINGO!

Luckily, I've figured out the magic painkiller combo that allows me to function (tylenol and aspirin - who knew?).  Also, ice packs.  All those fancy anti-inflammatories and narcotics now crowding my medicine cabinet? Worthless.  I've been told the pain gets worse once the rash appears, though. Gosh, I cannot wait.

Those comfy bras I ordered? 2 were a joke - apparently, XL and XXL do not refer to the cup size but to the circumference.  As I am a 32G, that did me not one whit of good.  The third bra sort of fits, but still feels uncomfortable, due to its contact with the painful area plus its allowing the girls much too much free range of movement.  Helpful hint - if your boobs are moving in different directions as you walk, the bra IS NOT WORKING.

You're welcome.

I can't ride in this. I'm confused enough as it is.

So, yeah - we're waiting for birthday girl Anna to wake up here so we can fete her with a waffles-and-whipped-cream birthday brunch.  She's 22, a fact I find utterly ridiculous.  Why, that would make me 22 years older than the day I gave birth to her, which was simultaneously yesterday and one gazillion years ago.

Time is confusing, right? I guess this is why I am not a physicist.  Or a time traveler.

[TARDIS image: The Doctor Who Site]

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Any Excuse For Some Online Shopping

Remember this post? Where I theorized that the stinging, burning pain along my rib cage was caused by an allergic reaction to the metal in my bra?  Well, it got worse and was mostly on the left side, so I decided I was dying of pancreatic cancer (because hypochondria, of course).  I called a friend to tell her the bad news, and she convinced me that maybe it would be a good idea to get an opinion from someone who was actually, you know, a medical doctor; that is, one of those people who, unlike myself, have actually spent several years studying the human body and all that can go wrong with it.

My friend is sensible that way.

So, convinced that I was going to be handed a death sentence, I headed off to the medical center this morning, weeping a little inside at the thought of my 2 youngest having to grow up without me.  Poor motherless creatures! And let's not even talk about how haunted I felt by the thought of all the family photos I haven't sorted through yet.  The guilt was overwhelming.

My poor girls, after my demise.  I hope they can sing.

As it turns out, however, I'm not dying.  Yet.   The doctor said it just feels that way because I probably have shingles.  In my defense, the rash hasn't shown up yet, so it was hard to recognize.

I just looked up pictures of a shingles rash.  That was gross.  Don't do it.  Save yourselves.

Torture device, by Wacoal

You know, I have heard people talk about shingles and how painful it is, but I never really believed them. Of course, it doesn't help that this outbreak is focused precisely where my bra makes contact with my body, thus magnifying the pain, oh, about a hundredfold.  Why couldn't I get it around my waist, like other people? WHY? I would have had an excuse to lounge on the couch in comfy pajama pants for a few weeks, while eating Breyer's strawberry ice cream straight from the carton. Silver lining, right?

But no, my over-endowed self either has to go around bra-less (thereby traumatizing my teen boys no end) and risk getting my nipples caught in my pants zipper, or else I have to suck it up by fastening my bra and enduring the pain of a thousand knives under my breastbone.  Nice choice, right?

What I should do is go out and try to find something comfier and looser to hold up the girls - but that would involve putting on the torture bra and visiting umpteen dozen stores to find something that fits.  I just don't think I am physically capable of doing that right now.  Particularly since I am under the influence, as it were, of some nice drugs whose effects might render driving a tad dangerous.

She doesn't look like she's in pain.

Of course, there's always Amazon...they have everything, right? What do you think, will these (in XXL) do the trick? And isn't it a wonderful century we live in, where I could conceivably have a drone deliver brassieres to my door? I mean, it's like the Jetsons, only weirder.

Do you think Jane Jetson ever got shingles?

[Orphan image: Live Theater in MA and RI]
[Bra image: Linda, the Bra Lady]
[Jane Jetson image: The Jetson Wiki]