Monday, March 29, 2010

Is It June Yet?

How to know when you should take a vacation:

1. You spend over two hours in your sons' bedroom helping them sort through their crap stuff junk treasures and wind up with three garbage bags and a box of stuff to send to Goodwill and a bag and a half of pure, unadulterated trash to send to the dump.*

2. You spend an hour with your youngest daughter culling through her stuff and come up with two bags and a couple of things that don't fit in bags to send to Goodwill.

3. It has rained every other day and you have read through both books by Sunday evening that you checked out from the library on Thursday.

4. A trip to the library is not on your current schedule because the last time you went, the two children you left in charge got into a fight and wound up with horrible bruises on their bodies.

5. Your husband arrives home from skiing in one piece (thanks be to God) but looking windswept and tanned and full of enthusiasm for the trip he wants the family to take to Lake Tahoe next spring and the only thing you can think is "How much laundry will I have to do after such a trip?"

6. You spend waaaaaay too much time lugging your father-in-law's seen-better-days chair downstairs because you absolutely, positively need something to fill that empty corner in the family room.

7. Then you spend waaaaaaay too much time imagining your husband's sweetly surprised reaction when he discovers his dad's old chair sitting in the family room where God and everyone can see it. You then spend waaaaay too much time patting yourself on the back for getting over yourself and figuring out a way for this thing heirloom to take a place of honor in your family room. You further spend waaaaay too much time daydreaming about how friends will question the piece of furniture and how you will defend it's place and how they will think you are awesome for allowing it where the public can see it.

8. After your husband's non-reaction when he sees the chair that you spent waaaaay too much time on, you will spend waaaaaaay too much time plotting ways to make sure that your mother lives at your house in her dotage.

9. You will forget that Easter weekend is coming up and the Easter bunny needs to hit the stores to fill the Easter baskets.

10. You will forget that Easter weekend and Spring Break are coinciding and you will forget to book a place at the boarder's for the dumb dog. Hence, the dumb, carsick dog will be coming with you for Easter weekend. Way to go, jerkface!

11. You will watch "500 Days of Summer" and "The Blindside" in one weekend and will declare them both the best movies you've seen in a while. Then you will forget and mention it to your husband who abandoned was gone on business for a week and you will feel guilty when you mention that you rented the movies "On Demand" rather than hitting the Red Box.

12. You will drink wine on weeknights. (Slainte!)

13. You will inform your children that times they are a-changin' and that they should be prepared to pull their weight when you go back to work in the fall. Your children will not bat an eye before they say "Okay, mom" with no further discussion.

14. Then your 13 year old will inform you that she would rather clean her room when she feels like it, because then she is more motivated than when you ask her to clean it. She declares that when you ask her to clean it, it feels as if she lives in a totalitarian society.

15. You curse your public school system for the social studies curriculum that is teaching your child things like "democracy" and "totalitarianism."

16. You inform your child, with only a small stream of smoke coming out of your ears, that she may make the decision to clean her room when she feels like it when she is paying the mortgage. Your further state that since she is only asked approximately quarterly to do a thorough cleaning of her room, that perhaps she should figure out a way to, in the words of the fabulous Tim Gunn, "make it work," unless she wants to discover what it feels like to live in a tent.

17. You will drink more wine on weeknights. (Salut!)

18. You will take your children to a park and cringe when your 5 year old says that people have been writing inside the slide tunnels. You will cringe and blush when she starts to read the letters of the words that have been written. You will look be ashamed of yourself for thinking the worst when the letters she reads out spell "I- L-O-V-E-Y-O-U." (Get your mind out of the gutter, Sara!)

19. You get down on the floor with the dumb dog and pet her and tell her sweetly that if she barfs in the car on the way to your parents' home that you will clean up the mess and find the nearest Humane Society and drop her off there.

20. You hate that your computer doesn't work, but delight in the fact that your husband is home so that you can use his without leaving the comforts of your own home (there's wine here!).

21. You snuggle in bed with your beloved and your beloved's computer and plan your summer vacation and then you dream that it is already summer.

*To be fair, there were a couple of boxes in the boys' room that needed going through after we moved in and due to my lack of will, were never gone through until now. It is to their credit that they were able to go through so much stuff and decrapify and donate so much to others.

Also, my husband arrived home safely and without injury. Thanks for your prayers. He is on fire for Lake Tahoe. I may need your prayers next spring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Here I Am With My Lysol

If you guessed that I am typing this from the library again, you are correct. I know that I make my library sound nasty but it's really a beautiful facility. It is always very clean and neat and the staff is helpful. (Sounds like I'm writing on a hotel comment card doesn't it?) But, germophobe that I am, I still get kinda squicked out typing on keyboards that LOTS of other people have used. Oh, don't get me wrong, I am certain that if you cleaned my home keyboard it would be full of noseeums and nasty viruses, but they are the noseeums and viruses of my beloveds, not random strangers. That makes all the difference you know. Look, I know that doesn't make any sense, but I won't ridicule your neuroses if you don't ridicule mine.

Anyway, apparently my computer and sewing machine have been whispering to each other and now they both hate me. They are the spawn of the devil and they are trying to inflict their evil upon me. So here I am, trying to get this written before my time on the computer expires.

What's that? It's ironic you say? Oh, yes. Now I see. Given that my last post was about procrastinating and I was all "Hey I work great under a deadline! Give me a deadline and watch me be creative and productive!" So now I have a deadline. And the creativity?

Bwahahaha! Theory exploded!!

So. Let's see. Some of you dear readers have asked me whether or not James did indeed have strep. Apparently I had a cliffhanger in that post. Sorry. Didn't mean to leave you hanging. I was just so excited about my little 6 degrees of separation thing with the doctor that it must have slipped my mind. So the answer is, yes. Yes he did have strep. They put him on a stronger antibiotic and hopefully it will completely go away this time.

Hmmm. What else? Oh! Sean had a music program Wednesday night and it was all about pirate songs. Have you ever seen a bunch of second graders dressed up all piratey? Well, besides Halloween? It was so stinkin' cute. And Seannie boy blushed to the roots of his curly hair when it was his turn to step up to the microphone and sing. I just love it. The best part is, I took my Flip and recorded it, so now I have blackmail material. Bonus!

And today, well, I spent today cleaning the Pit of Despair that was my house. Only I didn't even get it all done. I only did the main floor. But it is spotless. Or at least it was. Then my children came home and now I am here, so who knows what it will look like when I return? I am hoping to start on the upstairs after work tomorrow and finish Saturday so that when my husband comes home on Sunday, he'll come home to a clean house. Friends, you do not want to see the upstairs of my house right now. I have just shut all the doors so I don't have to look at any of the mess. Well, I also shut the doors to keep the dumb dog from chewing up Barbies and blankets and anything else she can put in her slobbery mouth. Seriously. My upstairs is positively gross. And my children? They don't know it yet, but their Saturday is booked solid. For their sakes I hope it's not nice out.

I fully expect for us to all be cranky and sullen on Saturday night. In fact, I think after I leave the library, I'll just run by the store and get some wine so that I'll have a little something to look forward to when all the whining starts.

And if you wouldn't mind, say a little prayer for my husband. He has been at a business meeting for most of the week. The meeting culminates in a ski weekend. I know. Poor baby. I waver between being a little annoyed with his whole 'I think it would be a good idea if I stayed to ski this time. You know, politically. The boss will be there.' and being terrified that he is going to ski into something. He hasn't been skiing since he was in his twenties. He's a long way from his twenties now, if you know what I'm sayin'. I predict that at the very least, he will come home sore from discovering muscles he hasn't used in a long time and that he will need to rest. Whereas if it were me, I would be on duty the minute I walked in the door.

Sigh. Bitter much, Sara?

Okay. So there it is. My least-creative-under-a-deadline-post EVER. Sorry. I totally jinxed myself. Oh well. At least it wasn't a grocery list.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Procrastinators Anonymous

Hello, my name is Sara and I'm a procrastinator. I don't know why I put things off. Oh, okay. Yes I do. I put things off because they either:
a. are gross, like cleaning toilets
b. are boring, like folding laundry
c. are someone else's job, like picking up their own crap, and I'm waiting for them to do it but they never do and I wait to see how long it takes before someone picks it up before I do it in a huff
d. involve math and measuring and math is haaaaaaaaard (Kidding. Sort of.)
e. aren't as appealing to me as other things, like surfing the net or eating my weight in mint chocolate chip ice cream while watching HGTV
f. don't hold my interest. Oh look! Something shiny!

My point is, I suppose, that I have the attention span of an ADD gnat and given the choice between a task that I don't really want to do and something else, I'll choose something else almost every time. Which is why there are piles of paper and other crap on just about any flat surface in my kitchen. It's also why my laundry is never done. (Although I could argue that with six of us wearing clothes daily, why and how would it ever be completely done?) My fabulous powers of procrastination are why there are things that are meant to be hung on my wall sitting in a pile in a corner of the family room. They have been sitting there since the end of February. Apparently finishing that task was once of interest to me, but now? Meh. Not so much.

I think that procrastination is genetically passed from parent to child. At least in this family. And I think that both my husband and I carry the gene. That's why my children have been known to tell me as they head out the door to play or as they stare at the shiny, talking box "I'll do ____ a little later, 'kay?" And being a procrastinator myself, telling them to get right on ____ is like the pot calling the kettle black.

This putting off of the less enjoyable is all well and good until I am under the gun. Then I curse my procrastinating tendencies. Because then I am left trying to do all the things that I put off in a short amount of time. And really, I'm not so much fun to be around when that happens. Suddenly everything is urgent and anyone who doesn't share my sense of urgency, well, they suddenly find themselves wishing they lived anywhere else but here. Yes, I am a joy.

So why do I do it? Knowing everything that I know, why do I keep on putting things off? My theories are thus:
Theory the first: I do better work when I am under a deadline. When I am feeling the pressure I believe that I work harder, more efficiently, and more creatively. Whether this is actually true, I do not know, but it is something I tell myself to justify my procrastination.

Theory the second: I think that perhaps if I put off a task that I don't really want to do, a task that could just as easily be completed by someone else, perhaps someone else will actually do the task. And perhaps they will do it without me asking! Perhaps they will see what needs to be done and do it. And perhaps monkeys will fly out of my butt and sing "Jingle Bells." (Obviously, this theory has received quite a bit of testing and is actually moving toward being refuted.)

Theory the third: I'll think about this one later. This subject just doesn't interest me any longer. Oh look! Something shiny!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tempt Your Tastebuds Tuesday

My brain is mush. I had a major alarm clock/brain malfunction and am suffering the adverse effects of not enough sleep. So I figured while I go to my favorite place and snuggle under the covers to stare at the back of my eyelids, you could look over this recipe and contemplate its yumminess.

Or, I could just tell you about it yumminess. Um, it's well, yummy. (Would you like me to review your product and give it a resounding endorsement? I am totally qualified. Take note of those sentences back there.)

A week ago I was given some wonderfully fresh, deliciously sweet blueberries and I had to figure out what to do with them. Now, I recognize that in most homes this would not be a dilemma, and here I must just say: "Um, have you met me? I am all about the hand wringing and dilemma-making."

You see, I love blueberries, but when I eat them fresh (read: uncooked) they make my mouth itch. My family, weird as they are, only like to eat them frozen (read: not thawed at all, but frozen) or cooked in something like a muffin or pastry of some sort. Not wanting to have an itchy mouth or to waste such a wonderfully delicious treat, I looked for a muffin recipe that sounded good enough for the bounty in my possession. And I found it! And now I am going to share it with you. And then you are going to look at it. And then you are going to make it. And then you are going to love me forever. The end.

Delicious Just Like In A Bakery Blueberry Muffins With Crumb Topping **
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup blueberries

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan or use liners.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup and add egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix into the flour mixture. (It will be thick.) Fold in berries. Fill cups to top and sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 8-10 muffins.

**Obviously this is not the name of the recipe. It is one that I made up. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!) While not being especially creative, it does aptly describe the muffins. So there. I did not create this recipe, I found it and because my printer wasn't working, copied it out by hand. Therefore, I cannot tell you where I found it, because I don't remember. If this is your recipe, I am sorry for not giving you credit. Also? Will you marry me?

I apologize for not having pictures of the absolutely mouthwatering muffins that were made using this recipe, but they were eaten too quickly. Seriously. I was like,"hmmm, I bet I could take some pictures and post that recipe let me just grab my camera" and then I turned around and was all "what the...?" because the muffins had done a disappearing act. They are that good.

I realize that the recipe doesn't make all that many muffins, but they are large. So you know, if you want more, double the recipe! Then you can make some for yourself and send the extras to me.

In fact, I can't think of anything nicer to wake from a nap to than warm and delicious blueberry muffins. So, you can just go get busy making some and I'll just be over here asleep on my keyboard.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Degrees Of S(trep)aration

James and Mary have been trying to kill me by degrees. They have been taking turns with their illnesses. Rather than bring on the sickness in one fell swoop, they have been in sibling collusion and decided that it would be really fun to watch mama slowly go insane by alternating who is on the Amoxicillin each week. For the last six weeks I have had to double check who I am giving the antibiotic to. That person curled up in a fetal position and sucking her thumb in the corner? ME.

Today, while I was at work, my cell phone started ringing. Normally, I keep my phone tucked away in my purse in the closet of my classroom. As luck would have it, I was in the closet digging for some crayons and paintbrushes when my phone started ringing. People who know me well enough to have my cell phone number also know my working hours and don't call me when I'm at work. So the fact that my phone was ringing sent a little jolt of adrenaline coursing through my body. The same little jolt you get when your phone rings at 2 a.m. and your body says "Hey, this isn't right! Nobody calls here at 2 a.m. Who died?!"

Upon answering, I discovered that it was the school nurse at my son James' middle school. She was calling to cover me in guilt let me know that James was complaining of a sore throat and that she had looked down his throat and that it looked really bad. She said he didn't have a fever but had mentioned that he'd had strep a few weeks ago. She further mentioned that she thought it might be making an unwelcome comeback. I knew, of course about the sore throat. I knew that he didn't feel good when I woke him for school. But I did what any mother of multiple children over the age of 5 do; namely, I stated that I was sorry his throat hurt, but he was either going to have to be on fire with a fever or barf up a week's worth of meals to stay home. He didn't have a fever and he didn't produce said barf, so I sent him to school. A mere two hours later, the nurse was calling me to come pick him up because he was miserable and she thought he might be getting strep. Why, yes, I am the World's Meanest Mother, why do you ask? (I believe we have had this discussion before. Today's behavior of sending a sick child to school cements my status, thankyouverymuch.)

After scrambling to get a sub and picking a teary-eyed and pale James up from school, I made a doctor's appointment for him. As we were driving home, James was very chipper and cracking jokes. I gave him the stink eye. This is not the behavior I expect out of someone with Strep. The boy child even had the nerve to say that he thought he had Strep. I told him that I had my doubts--especially since he was cracking jokes and eating French fries. (Yes, I did make a stop by CrackDonald's for a Diet Coke on my way home. What?!?!) I should have known right then that my capacity for wrongness was being enlarged. I myself have joked with medical-type people about pain as I have had stroke level blood pressure brought on by migraine pain or been facing an emergency C-section, so I should have known. I mentioned that Usual Strep Behavior involved fever, headaches, sore throat, and inability to get into a standing position. Other than sore throat, he didn't have any of the Usual Strep Behavior. He maintained his position. "I really think that the Strep has come back," he said.

We drove to the doctor's office and I may or may not have told him that he better test positive for Strep as I was missing work because of his shenanigans. (I also may or may not have actually used the word 'shenanigans.' After all, it was St. Patrick's day!)

After checking in, we were called back and we got settled into an examination room. I should mention here as well that James was wearing shorts. Also, the high temperature was forecast to be about 63 degrees. Hey, I pick my battles, people. Anyway! The doctor came in and high fived James for wearing shorts. This led to a conversation about shorts and professionalism and geographic/temperature appropriateness for shorts. This conversation somehow led to the doctor telling me where he was from. He was a small town in northern Illinois that I am familiar with for a couple of reasons, one of which is that I had a college roommate that was from the same town. When I mentioned this, he asked me her name. When I told him, he laughed and said that not only did he know them (his dad was a veterinarian and doctored the animals on my roommate's family farm) but that he had played high school football with my roommate's brother.

Small world, eh?

Wait. It gets better.

I mentioned that I had family in some other towns in the area and he knew all the places of which I spoke. Even tiny little Tampico, Illinois. And that's saying something, folks. Supposedly it is known as the birthplace of Ronald Reagan, but I'm not sure who knows that except for people who live there and people like me who have had to explain exactly where and what Tampico is.
We had a good time talking about places we were both familiar with while James reclined on the examination table and tried to stay awake. Then I mentioned that while northern Illinois was where my family was from, it wasn't where I grew up. After a few more questions and answers, it was discovered that not only did this doctor know the town in which I grew up, he went to med school with the good friend of my best friend's younger brother! (Didja follow that? Basically, we know some the same guy.) They went skydiving together after they took their boards. (He joked that they said that if they passed, they decided they'd even use the chute. I might have a little crush on his sense of humor.)

While James tried to stay awake and not drool on the examination table paper, the doc and I played 6 degrees of separation. It was awesome. It's about time one of my children's illnesses wasn't all about them.

So when somebody says "It's a small world," don't roll your eyes. Because you never know when you'll run into your college roommate's brother's football teammate or your best friend's younger brother's good friend. Right?

Turns out that this episode of Strep (strepisode?) was much more fun than I thought it would be. Go figure!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just In Case You Wondered

Some of you who read this blog know me well. Some of you used to know me well and are sort of being reacquainted. Some of you were acquainted with me and are getting to know me better. Some of you didn't know me at all and now feel as if you know me. Some of you don't know me at all and are here by mistake because you wanted to know the lyrics to the Doris Day song. If you fall into that last category, you'll want to check your spelling. Obviously, there are no song lyrics here. Sorry.

As for the rest of you, I thought I'd tell you a few things about myself so that you could get to know me better. You know, so that if we ever go out for coffee, we don't have any awkward silences. Of course, I don't drink coffee, so maybe it would be more of a let's swing by McDonald's for one of their crack-filled Diet Cokes and chat, rather than a let's go sit in a coffee shop and converse sort of thing.

Anyway. Two things you may have discovered about me just by reading that last paragraph: I heart Diet Coke and I am easily distracted. The thing you should know about my love for Diet Coke, however, is this--it is best from McDonald's, but if I cannot get it from there, then I want it really cold, straight out of the can. Do NOT give me a plastic bottle of Diet Coke. I mean, I'd take it if you offered it to me because not only do I love the D.C., I am also polite. But later, I'd probably think less of you for trying to pawn off a nasty tasting, far inferior, plastic bottled D.C. Kidding, kidding. Not about the grossness of a D.C. in a plastic bottle though. I don't joke about that.

Aside from the neurotic serving preferences of my favorite beverage, there are some other things that would bridge that awkward silence. Let's see...

I love to read and am often reading two or three books at the same time.

If you give me a cucumber sandwich, I am liable to fall deeply in love with you.

I love dogs. Although my own particular dog makes me crazy. Cats? Meh. I can take 'em or leave 'em.

If I had enough money, I'd wear a new pair of socks every day and throw them away after I'd worn them. This would allow me to enjoy the comfy softness of new socks without ever having to deal with the laundering and subsequent pairing and folding of the laundered socks. Not to mention the head scratching problem of throwing a pair of socks in the wash only to have one emerge from the machine.

Purple irises are my favorite flower.

If I weren't so lazy and opposed to sweating and getting dirty, I'd have a yard full of flowers--starting with peonies and lilacs.

I have watched "It's A Wonderful Life" more times than I can count. I still cry every time when I see the look on Mary Bailey's face as she watches all the people whose lives her husband has touched come into her home to help him. Waterworks. Every. Time.

I don't like coconut. It's not the flavor, it's the consistency I can't stand.

I can count to ten in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. I want to learn how to do it in more languages. I don't know why. I cannot imagine one single circumstance in which such knowledge would come in handy, unless it's some bizarre emergency countdown at the U.N. Hmmm...I might have to give that scenario a little more thought. Anyway! My sister-in-law was teaching me 1-10 in Lebanese, but I have forgotten. I need to relearn it so that in case that whole U.N. thing ever happens, I won't be short a language. (If by chance you know how to count to ten in another language, would you be willing to share your knowledge with me?)

I have more rings than any three people could wear on their fingers. I love rings. Yet, aside from my wedding ring, I only wear one other ring at a time.

I love grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I am a word nerd. I love the way certain words sound. I am also keenly aware when someone misuses or mispronounces a word. It makes me inwardly cringe. I would never say anything out loud, but inside I am screaming "NOOOOO!!! Make it stop!"

I have never been farther west than Montana and Colorado. I have never seen the Pacific Ocean.

I love the smell of coffee, but can't stand the taste. Ditto for oranges.

Sometimes, when the light falls on a space in a particular way, I am so moved that I want to cry. I never tell anyone when I feel this way for fear they might think I am tetched in the noggin.

I am always slightly fearful when I am in line at the grocery with only a few items (but more than the express lane allows) and the cashier tells me to go ahead and go through the express lane. I am afraid someone will confront me.

I have always wanted to travel and experience other cultures, but because I married relatively young and have a husband who travels weekly for work and enjoys nothing more than being at home, I haven't. Someday I hope to.

I do a mean Ethel Merman impersonation. (Now there's a skill that comes in handy, eh?)

I think that's probably enough information for a little while. Don't want to scare you off overwhelm you. We could totally chat over Diet Cokes and cucumber sandwiches now. Well, almost. Because any good conversation is two sided, right? So now it's your turn. Click on the comments and tell me something about you. I'd love to get to know you better.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Blogiversary To Me

Saturday was my blogiversary. Spell check does not like that word. But I assure you, it is one. Albeit one of the made up kind. Still, it exists. All this is to say that I have officially been blogging for a year. There are no prizes or awards for this accomplishment. Millions of people blog. But I'm proud that I've claimed my little corner of the Internet and kept at it. Unfortunately, I will not be blogging any longer.


Of course I'll keep blogging. Blogging and the occasional vat glass of wine are sometimes the only thing keeping me sane. No, the unfortunate thing is that I had a blogiversary and there was no cake involved. What kind of sham occasion is this anyway? I think whoever made up the word should also have made it obligatory to have cake if you are going to use the word.

No, there was no cake. But there was family movie night. Family movie night used to be a weekly occurrence. Every Saturday night after dinner, the kids would get their baths, put on jammies, grab blankets and pillows, and head to the family room where we would enjoy a movie with popcorn and soft drinks. We would take a little break from movie night during the summer when we were outside until well after 9 p.m., but it remained a tradition during the school year. But then, despite my best efforts and bricks placed on heads, my children grew. And with the growing came activities like sleepovers, night time birthday parties, and going to the movies with a group of friends. Since moving into this house a year and a half ago, movie night has been a fairly rare occurrence. There have been too many things to do. Finding us all together on a Saturday night almost never happens. But this weekend, the stars aligned; not only were all my chicks in the nest, they were all in agreement about having a movie night. (I don't think I can stress enough how unusual it is to have everyone in agreement around here.)

After a hastily consumed dinner of frozen pizza (obviously we didn't consume it frozen. duh!) the children raced upstairs to get baths and showers while I cleaned up the kitchen and popped popcorn. When they came back downstairs with damp heads and smelling yummy, we all got comfortable and watched "Where the Wild Things Are." Here's my mini-review: not only was it a beautiful film to watch--the cinematography was fabulous-- it was a great story. I know there's been controversy over this film, but we give it a unanimous "thumbs up." Wow, agreement again! I should buy a lottery ticket.

So there was no cake and no singing of "Happy Blogiversary to you". So what? I'll take a long overdue family movie night in its place any time. All in all, a very good way to celebrate, don't you agree?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love Thursday: I Would Read It Here And There, I Would Read It Anywhere

You may recall that I lamented my lack of productivity over the weekend. Yes, I was a whiny-baby. Yes, I was all "I had so many things happen and I had a list as long as Julia Roberts' legs and I didn't accomplish any of them waaaahhh!" But! Something Important happened this weekend. And it happened in the waiting room of the MedCheck.

The waiting room of the MedCheck is set up like many waiting rooms; there was a larger room with two televisions (both tuned to CNN) and a smaller room, fitted with a tiny table, two small chairs and two adult size chairs, a small television, plus a book shelf filled with children's books and Highlights magazines. This is the standard waiting room I have found in these situations. There's a long wait and the possibility of more than two children and their accompanying parents waiting, so for some reason, there's a closet sized waiting room set up to accommodate wee ones. I know space is at a premium, but seriously, how much room does a grown-up need to sit? Not much. A couple of square feet, I'd venture. But a small child? They need approximately half an acre proportionate to their age and motility. I'm certain that these waiting rooms are designed by childless aged architects that take great glee in yelling 'Hey! You kids get off my lawn!'

Anyway! As Mary and I were sitting there in the grown-up waiting room, waiting for our names to be called, somehow, the sound of Spongebob Squarepants traveled through Mary's bulging eardrums and down her puss-filled ear canals. Because as we were sitting there listening to CNN on two televisions, she cocked her head and said to me, "What is that sound? Is that Spongebob Squarepants?" And I thought that perhaps her hearing had been miraculously restored. But then I realized that Squidward's voice probably travels on a different frequency than mine and is able to overcome Otitis Media, whereas my voice sounds like the whisper of the wind unless I've uttered the words 'ice cream.' Then all bets are off.

Quickly realizing that the small, as yet unoccupied waiting room could be a boon, I agreed with her suggestion that we pick up our coats and wait there. Little did I know what awaited me.

As we got settled in, Mary explored the tiny space and then came back to me, asking to sit on my lap. We snuggled up and got about the business of waiting. But then, Mary spied the bookshelf. She got off my lap and walked toward it, as if drawn by a magnet. I understand this phenomenon completely, as I have a very large magnet in my body that has been known to not only draw me to book shelves, but also to completely erase any comprehension of the world around me once I have a book in hand. I am utterly sucked in.

She looked over the shelves and traced her fingers lightly over the covers. Finally, spying a brightly colored book, she brought it over to me. She pointed to a word. "And," she said. "That word says 'and.' "

"Yes!" I exclaimed.

"What do the other words say?"

"Sound this one out," I said, pointing to a small word.

"H-a-m," she said. "HAM! That says ham!"


"Mama, will you read this to me?" she asked, climbing onto my lap.

I pulled her close and told her that this book was special. This was the first book I could remember listening to while I was sitting on my own mama's lap, I told her. I said that I thought she could probably read lots of words in this book.

Her eyes lit up and she said, "Really?!" as she turned the first page.

"I am Sam," she read and she quickly turned the page.

As we sat there in the waiting room, she read several pages of the book and I commented on how amazed I was that she was reading so well. She laughed when I told her that she was growing up too fast and that I was going to ask the doctor for a special brick to put on her head that would stop her from growing.

We were both disappointed when the nurse called our names and we had to leave the book behind. I told Mary that it was okay, we had that book at home.

But when we got home, I couldn't find it anywhere. Great big tears welled in her eyes.

"But mama! You told me you had it! I've been waiting to read that book! I've been waiting my whole life to read!"

I immediately told my husband that I needed to make a trip to the book store, stat! He agreed. Within thirty minutes I had purchased "Green Eggs and Ham," returned home, and sat snuggled on the couch with Mary, my newest reader. As we sat there, she giggled at the silliness and we talked about how the nameless main character was a lot like her and didn't like to try new foods. She read sentences and re-read them, adding expression. She sounded out words and when that strategy failed, she'd turn her eyes up to me and ask what the word was.

And when she was finished, she closed the book, shut her eyes and sighed. "That was awesome!" she declared.

Indeed it was, little girl, indeed it was. May this be the beginning of a long and beautiful love affair with books. Even if I do find the copy I already have, $8.95 seems like a very small price to pay for giving you something that can bring you so much.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In Stitches

Remember how I mentioned that I made pillows? Remember how I was all "Hey, I can sew! Sort of! Yippee for me, I can thread fabric through a machine in a semi-straight line! Look at my cute pillows?" Well guess what! My sewing machine heard me. Ah, hubris! I thought I could do anything. I was wrong. And the reason I was wrong is because my sewing machine hates me and will do anything to thwart my plans and make me look like a fool.

Back in junior high, lo, those many, many years ago, I was required to take home ec. And, as you may well know, one of the things that they taught in home ec was sewing. When I entered that classroom, I was quaking in my junior high sized clogs. You see, I did not grew up with a mother who sewed. I had no background. No experience.

Once upon a time, my mother made things with a sewing machine. Or so she tells me. I don't remember this. Perhaps I have buried it deep in my subconscious. She tells me that she never really enjoyed sewing, but that she could do it. My only memories of her with a needle and thread were of her quickly sewing on a button. And I think she sort of shuddered in revulsion while she did it. I don't know. Maybe my brain just added that part. Anyway! It didn't really matter, because our next door neighbor was a seamstress extraordinaire. My parents, before they moved last fall, lived in the same house for forty years. And Annie was there the whole time. Any time my mom needed some sewing done, she asked Annie. And Annie, good neighbor that she was, always stepped up to the plate.

So when I went into that home ec classroom, I was a complete newbie at any type of sewing. I had no clue about the jargon. The idea that there was measuring and math involved made my intestines squinch up into a ball. I was prepared to fail.

But then a minor miracle happened. The teacher gave us the choice of making clothing or a gym bag. As a class, we decided that a gym bag would be fun and more practical because you know, we were in junior high and lived for sleepovers. And for sleepovers you needed a gym bag to cart around curling irons and Tiger Beat magazines. (Disclaimer: I never, ever bought a Tiger Beat magazine. But I was always sort of mesmerized by the girls who did.) Then, another minor miracle occurred. Somehow, the teacher was unaware that there was really no measuring or tracing of patterns for the gym bags. The pattern came printed directly onto the nylon, so all we had to do was cut out what was already there and sew it, per the included directions. So I dodged that bullet. After a few classes, several of my friends and I figured out that we could get our work done faster if we did it assembly line-style, thus leaving more time to pass notes and doodle names of cute boys on our notebooks. So we each took what we were good at and did it on each other's bags. One of us did the straps, one did the ends, one did the pockets, I did the zippers. Go figure. I've heard that zippers can be tricky, but I was a Zipper Wizard, y'all. We continued this way for a few days until the teacher discovered our work. Instead of praising us for our imagination and initiative, we were told that we were missing the point of the project and that we would all have to do our own sewing from that point on. (Inside, my junior high self is still rolling her eyes, crossing her arms, and thrusting out her hip while muttering about how teachers are SO STUPID. GAWD!)

What I came away with from sewing lessons in home ec could be best summed up like this: 1. Sewing is easy if your pattern is pre-printed, you have no measuring to do, and you can form an assembly line with like-minded friends. 2. Always cut your bobbin thread before you go to iron your piece. (I was notorious for forgetting this and would walk through the class room, weaving a web of bobbin thread as I went.) 3. If the home ec teacher likes you and goes to your church, you can get away with not learning how to sew. 4. Passing notes is easier when the hum of the sewing machine drowns out the rustle of the paper.

What I didn't come away with from home ec was knowing how to sew. So you know, that was tax-payer money well spent.

Years later, I would marry a man whose mother was (is) a wonderful seamstress so if I wanted or needed anything sewn, not only would she do a great job, she actually enjoyed doing it. It wasn't until just recently that I even thought that being able to sew--even just a little, might be kinda cool. I kept seeing little projects around that required just a bit of simple stitching and thought that maybe I could get over my sewphobia and attempt some stuff. So I went out and bought a little starter machine. Nothing fancy, after all, I wasn't going to be making gym bags. Ahem.

And then, the circus began. I had to thread the machine. Yowza. I think somebody needs bifocals. So that took, um, awhile. Next, I had to get the bobbin wound. Simple right?


I have to be the only person on the planet that can make a 2" diameter knot on a bobbin. You think I am kidding. Oh no, my friends. I am as serious as a heart attack. After another, um, while, I got things untangled and the bobbin properly wound. And then I made my pillows. Except I didn't really do much to make them. I bought a couple of double-sided placemats, ripped a little opening in the seam, stuffed it with fiberfill and sewed it back up. But whatever. I was proud of myself. "I CAN TOTALLY SEW!" I thought to myself. "I am awesome for overcoming my fear!"

And then my sewing machine heard me. Now it thinks I am cocky and it hates me. Every time I try to sew something, the bobbin thread gets all knotted up. I have no idea what I am doing wrong. I have read the manual. I have gone step-by-step through the troubleshooting guide. I have scratched my head and tried to "retrace my steps" on my successful pillow project. I have cursed at the machine. I have yelled at my husband when he suggested lessons.



"MORONS CAN DO THIS!" I bellowed.

And he had the good grace not to say, "Apparently not."

Now, my stupid machine is sitting in my closet. I don't want to look at it. I don't want to take a chance that it might accidentally slip out a second story window. But it's nice to fantasize about it.

If you sew, perhaps you could fill me in on what I'm doing wrong. If you don't, pull up a chair. We'll have a glass of wine and talk smack about my machine.

Monday, March 8, 2010

How I Spent My Weekend (Hint: It Wasn't Doing Anything Productive)

Have I mentioned lately that part of my intention with this blog is to make you feel better about yourself? Well, it is. Through the failures that I post, you can vicariously fail so that you don't have to do it in real life. See what a giver I am? You're welcome.

My failure this week is basically a failure of omission. You see, I had great plans this weekend. Oh! The things I was going to accomplish! I was going to set fire to my little corner of the world! People were going to look at me in awe. They were going to see me in stylized slow motion and whip off their sunglasses as my svelte body and long, glossy mane of hair passed them by and they were going to say "Wow! What a mover and shaker! She really gets things done! I want to be just like her!" Aaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnndddddd...cue the alarm clock. Because you know I am dreaming, right? Your first clue should have been my intentions. Followed up by the dynamic duo of daydreaming, the svelte bod and long hair.

I got nothing done this weekend.

Shut up. You could at least act surprised. It's like you all know me or something. Ahem.

I really did have good intentions. I was going to catch up on laundry. (I know, I know, a pipe dream at best.) I was going to sew some stuff. I was going to work on my first ever Craigslist purchase that has been sitting in the basement, mocking me every time I go down there. I was going to do some baking. I was gonna get all Laura Ingalls on this weekend's ass! Whatever. Laura Ingalls didn't have an ipod or indoor plumbing. What does she know?

Saturday was spent entertaining every boy in the neighborhood--and a few from other neighborhoods. They just spontaneously gathered here and played video games and had impromptu Nerf gun wars. If I didn't know better, I'd think that someone put fliers on the telephone poles in the area advertising a smelly boy-style rave. In between yelling "Turn the volume DOWN!" eleventy bajillion times and closing the pantry doors after random hungry boys raided it, I kept myself busy with, um.... I don't know exactly. But it wasn't any of the things on my list. I didn't even get a chance to call my niece and wish her a happy birthday. (Happy birthday, Jill!)

Then suddenly it was Saturday night and I had accomplished nothing. I made a mental note to do better on Sunday.


Mary woke up at 11:30 p.m., just as I was headed for bed, complaining of ear pain. After dosing her with ibuprofen and administering ear drops, I laid on her bed with her for awhile and made a mental list of the things I would do on Sunday.

You know that this was a lesson in futility, right?

Because I spent the wee, butt-crack of dawn hours comforting a girl who cried her way through the night because her ears hurt. I sympathize. I really do. But friends, it's been a looooong time since I've had a baby keep me up most of the night and this body? It doesn't function so well on minimal sleep. Sunday morning was several layers of ugly.

I was supposed to be at the church where I work helping lead our children in singing. Um. Nope. Instead I spent 2 and a half hours at the medcheck having them tell me what I already knew. Mary had an ear infection and needed antibiotics.

I think that at some point, they should just give parents access to amoxicillin and basic medical tools. I mean, I can diagnose an ear infection and strep throat at 30 paces. It kind of maddens me that I need to spend time and money in the doctor's office (or even worse, urgent care) to have them tell me what I already know. When you've been a parent for a number of years and you have had two kids who get ear infections and strep throat if someone three counties away even mentions that their best friend's brother's uncle's third cousin twice removed heard that ear infections/strep were going around, they should just hand over the prescription pad.

Anyway! I spent my morning in that spectacular way and then hoped that I might find a few minutes in the afternoon to make up for lost sleep. Can I just say, HAHAHAHAHAHA???

The minute I hit the bed there were no less than five phone calls. Mary came into my room three times to look for goodnessonlyknowswhat and managed to knock over my lamp and alarm clock on one of those occasions. James came in twice to ask me questions that he could have easily asked his father who, by the way, was in the same room with him. That's right. The boy made two special trips upstairs to ask me questions that he could have asked his dad who was sitting five feet away from him. The dumb dog managed to open the door to my room and went on a wild run. If I didn't know better, I'd swear someone was slipping her Puppy Uppers. The doorbell rang twice causing the dog to lose her tiny little mind. And to cap it all off, the sun was in my eyes. Now normally, you won't hear me complaining about a sunny day. In fact, I have been begging for one for weeks. But this time, I just wasn't loving it. I was whining about it. I was all oh it's too sunny and the sun is in my eyes and I can't sleep and why does everyone hate me and how come the world is conspiring against me waaaaaaaaah!

I know. Lovely.

You know what I did get done? I can proudly say that I may have consumed my weight in Diet Coke this weekend. It wasn't on my list, but I may just put it on there after the fact so that at least I can cross something off. Hmph.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Photo Friday: Money Well Spent

Tin grin. Metal mouth. College fund for my orthodontist's children. Whatever you want to call them, braces were a fact of life for Maggie for about a year and a half. But yesterday, we called them something new: GONE!

Before: Braces are beautiful!
After: I can't stop smiling!

Her father is going out to the nearest sporting goods store to buy a bigger baseball bat. You know, to casually hold and tap in a totally non-menacing way when boys come buzzing around.

Monday, March 1, 2010


It was a busy weekend because there was some celebratin' going on around here. That's what happens when someone has a Leap Year birthday. You just spend a couple of days celebrating it because nobody really knows when to do it. It can be very confusing and taxing on a person. Good thing I'm experienced.

In between all of the cake eating and being Queen of Everything, I managed to do this:

It turned out just as I pictured it, and I'm very pleased with it. It's hanging in my kitchen over this bench. Love! It's been on my list for awhile, but I finally found myself with an extra hour to do whatever I wanted.

Of course, that's what happens when you walk around all weekend saying things like: "It's my birthday. I can do what I want. Okay, it's not really my birthday. Because some doofus decided that he needed to even out the calendar and give us an extra day every four years and I had the distinction of being born on that day. So why shouldn't I get an extra day in the off years for my trouble? So no, it's not really my birthday--it's my UN-birthday and I can do what I want! Hmph!" So I only have a "real" birthday every four years. I'm not bitter. Much. Believe me, I've had a long time to get used to the idea. The upside is, that now I get to state my age as ten and a half.

I also had the opportunity to make some pillows. Not over the weekend, but last week. I had a lot of time at home last week because I didn't work. I didn't work because my children decided to catch EbolaHantaH1N1StreptoBarfoloma. Basically, I just handed over my paycheck to someone else.

I'll post some pictures of the pillows later this week. But you should know two things: 1. Making the pillows involved a sewing machine. 2. I don't sew. It was like a "Laverne and Shirley" episode and I was both Laverne AND Shirley. Sordid details to follow.