Monday, February 28, 2011

Your Birthday's When, Now?

I am a victim of the Gregorian calendar. It's because of this calendar that today is my birthday. Except it's not really. You see, I am a Leapling. I was born on Leap Day and thus, I don't have a "real" birthday this year.

Now, I guarantee you that I am growing older. I have the crow's feet and body aches to prove it. But if you count my birthdays in "real birthdays,"--that is birthdays that fall on Leap Days, then I am only 10 (and 3/4, because those fractions are important, according to my 9 and 6 year old children.). My children delight in telling me that they are older than me and therefore do not really have to heed what I say, at which point I give them the stink eye and they hush up.

Having a birthday that falls on Leap Day has pros and cons to it. For instance:

Pro: I don't really have to lie about my age. Of course, that only goes so far. Most children are completely astounded and this often leads to a mathematical discussion of how it all works out. Adults just kind of look at me like my elevator doesn't go all the way to the top.

Con: I have had to argue with people about my birthday. On several occasions. Once, I had to persuade a young cashier that there was, indeed, a 29th of February and that it was, in fact, my birthday. It took several minutes of discussion and the intervention of a couple of folks behind me in line to convince her that I had not perpetuated a fraud on the DMV and that my driver's license had the correct date.

Pro: Because of having a Leap Year birthday, people who don't know me well are not sure when I celebrate it, and so I'm often given birthday greetings well into March. My mother used to say that I was the only person she knew without a real birthday who could celebrate it for a full week.

Con: Because of having a Leap Year birthday, people who don't know me well are not sure when I celebrate it. This often leads to discussions (and even on a couple of occasions a borderline argument) about why I celebrate it on the 28th. [Answer: 1) Because that's when my parents celebrated it for me--really what choice does one have as a toddler about when to celebrate one's birthday?--and it stuck, and 2) Because the 28th is still February and obviously, the 29th, when it occurs, falls in the month of February. I know there are factions that think a Leap Day birthday should be celebrated on March 1st because it is the day following the 28th, but those people are, um, WRONG. Not that I really care. If you are a fellow Leapling and celebrate on March 1st, well, more power to you. That is your decision to make (even though it's wrong) and I say "Happy Birthday!" But if you are not a Leapling, well, I say butt out. I don't tell you when to celebrate your birthday, do I? (That answer is "no," unless you are my child and your birthday falls on an inconvenient date and we need to celebrate it on a different day. To which I say, "Sorry." And also, "Tuck another dollar into your therapy jar for later.") I cannot tell you how rabid some people are in their opinions on this issue. It's a little frightening.

Pro: You feel a little bit special because you share your birthday with a handful of others. In my life I have known 3 other people who have a Leap Day birthday: a fellow classmate, a minister's wife that used to serve at my parents' church, and a school psychologist that I worked with in Minneapolis. (Hi Randy, Barb, and Anne!) But there are others out there that include:
Rossini, composer
Jimmy Dorsey
Dee Alexander Brown II (author of "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.")
Dennis Farina, actor
An extraordinarily high number of ice hockey players, and my favorite,
Adolph B.-Z. Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft, Sr, a man who had a name starting with Adolph that used every letter of the alphabet, giving him the longest name officially used by a person. I love that he's listed as "Sr." Does this mean that he passed on the name to a son?

Con: You feel a little weird because your birthday is unusual. Need I say more? I used to hate having a Leap Day birthday, because it set me apart in a way that I didn't like. People would tease me and say things like, "Well, you don't really get to celebrate because you don't really have a birthday this year." That's traumatic when you are a child and just tired when you are an adult and have heard it for 40-some-odd-years. But now, I see it for the gift that it is. It's part of what makes me who I am.

And it's a great conversation starter when you are forced to mingle with strangers: "Hi, John. I'm Sara. I'm a mom with four kids. No, no! Don't walk away! I was born on Leap Day!"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gone, Baby, Gone.

We have lived in this not so old house for two and a half years. I think that's long enough to live with someone else's decorating choices, don't you?

It took four coats of Killz, but the big purple flower, the giant, evil smiling sun, and the weird doves painted on the dirty yellow-green paint in Maggie's room are now gone.

My beloved will paint the ceilings when he returns from his business/ski trip. (He tried really hard yesterday when he called to convince me that I could paint the ceilings. I have no doubt that I could paint them. But I'm not going to. Nope. That's his job. That's why God made him much taller than me.) Then Maggie's room will get a fresh coat of paint. Stay tuned.

Today, it's on to the smiling motorcycle guy

and the crazy mustachioed flying ace in Sean's room.

These are cute and worked well when we moved in when he was 6, but now? Well, he's over it. Wonder how many coats it will take to cover them? Oh and I won't be finished. There's also a fire truck and police car on one wall, but his 1,000 pound bunk bed is in the way and I will absolutely NOT be trying to wrangle that bed around. That wall will wait for my beloved to come home.

Tomorrow I'll move on to the orange circus tent striped kids' bath. No. That isn't an exaggeration. I'll post those pics later.

Meanwhile, anyone know the name of a good masseuse? I have a feeling I'm gonna need one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Of Trips To The Airport, Moving Mattresses, Drywall Dust, And Swimming Craisins

I have been busy. And as is usual with life, it hasn't been with the big and momentous, but with the small and mundane. This past weekend, Maggie went with her classmates for a whirlwind 60 hour trip to Washington D.C. I like to think of it as less of a trip and more of an expensive appetizer; Something that will whet her appetite for a trip some time in the future where she can spend more time enjoying the sights and the museums and the history and less time on a bus taking wacky pictures with her friends to post on Facebook. Ahem.

Anyway! This trip required her to be at the airport at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning. She was to be there at 5 a.m. for a 7 a.m. flight. This meant that she had to leave the house by 4 a.m., which in turn meant that she needed to be up by 3 a.m. because "OMG I can't go to the airport looking like I would if I was just gonna be with my family!" [Insert eye roll and sigh of exasperation at parental stupidity.] Well, that was what was supposed to happen. In reality what happened was my husband awoke at 3:30 a.m. and discovered that at 3:40 a.m. our rackmonster teenager daughter wasn't yet awake. When he went in to wake her, she had no idea where she was or why he was in her room. And then a glance at her clock and a quick explanation from my beloved led to a near vertical leap from bed and frantic rushing about by the girl child.

She came in to kiss me goodbye and lamented her lateness. I reassured her that it would be fine and gave her a hug and a kiss, reminding her to have fun, be safe, get sleep, learn something, and call her mother. Then I fell back into bed hoping to become comatose again, but not really succeeding.

I spent the time that she was gone bombing and fumigating the disaster area that she calls a bedroom. Her room has been on the redo list since we moved in two and a half years ago. She has waited patiently for us to finish other projects. (Okay. You caught me. You can laugh heartily at that last statement. Patience is not her strongest trait.) The bright green room with the big purple flower, the enormous creepy sun and the doves painted on her wall have overstayed their welcome. So after my husband fixed the nail pops and various chips and holes in the drywall, he sanded the drywall.

Have you ever been around when someone is sanding drywall? It's a bit like being in a sandstorm of very fine white sand. It gets everywhere. And if your beloved doesn't move things out of the way, then you find the dust in places you really didn't want it. So that was, um, awful.

Maggie wanted her furniture placed a specific way and I really needed to clean everything because of the combination of dust and general teenager slovenliness, so I had to move her furniture all around. After moving her desk and her vanity out of the way, I wrestled the queen-sized bed into the spot she wanted only to discover that it wasn't going to work. So I had to wrestle everything back again. I discovered two things in this process: 1) Beds are much easier to move when they are on wheels. Hers is not on wheels. And it is hella heavy. 2) I am stoopid. Why didn't I just measure the bed and the area she wanted it placed? Why did I kill myself trying to wrangle that bed into place? Again, I say, because I AM STOOPID!

So after cleaning up her stuff, I got to do it all over again in Sean's room which will change from some really cute, but much-too-juvenile-for-a-nine-year-old paintings of planes and emergency vehicles, to NY Giants colors complete with an Eli Manning fathead. In addition, I plowed through his closet and got rid of so many clothes that no longer fit, that his closet is now nearly bare. Poor kid.

After that I just dug into James and Mary's rooms and gave them a good old-fashioned scrub down. We also finally put James' fathead up (Steelers player #92, James Harrison, natch) which caused much rejoicing in the little island of Steeler Nation that is my son.

Just when I thought I could take a small break from all the action, Sean reminded me that his science fair project is due. So my curly haired boy and I spent some quality time with water, vinegar, baking soda and Craisins, making them "swim," and documenting the experience on a display board. Good times. [Alert: If you are thinking of doing such and experiment in your own lab, caution should be used when selecting a container and how much water should go into said container. If you are letting your child select both and said child thinks that more and bigger is always better, well, you could wind up with someone shouting "CLEAN UP ON AISLE THREE!! CLEAN UP ON AISLE THREE!" Don't ask me how I know this. Lets just say that I have a crusty white substance in the grooves of my wood floor and leave it at that, shall we?]

Then last night Patrick and I drove the 45 minutes to the airport to wait for another thirty for Maggie's flight. Then on the way home we listened as she regaled us with stories of who sat with who, who got in trouble, who had to do push ups in front of everyone for losing her buddy (that would be our daughter) and oh yeah, there were these cool places we saw but were too tired to really see, so we just kind of stood there. Money well spent.

So that was the rest of my weekend.

Meanwhile, my beloved left this morning for the airport for a week for a business meeting/ski trip. He has spent a lot of energy telling me that he has to do the ski part of the trip because his boss expects it and since he finally gave in and went last year, well, he really has to be there again this year. He walked around the house last night with his ski helmet on and all I could do was shake my head. I told him he reminded me of The Great Gazoo. (You know, the little green martian guy in the later episodes of The Flintstones? Yeah. Him.) He laughed and then had to go show each of the children who proceeded to either laugh or call him "Heed." (Ever see "So I Married An Axe Murderer?")
So my poor husband has to go to meetings and eat dinner out with his coworkers and then he has to ski Tahoe.

And me? I have to stay home with a sick child and I have to do laundry. If you need me, I'll just be over here, whittling this short stick that I'm left holding.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


  • I love that when my husband is singing a song that I don't like, I can simply sing or hum a snippet of a song that I do like and shortly thereafter he begins to sing that song. It's almost subliminal. And sometimes I feel evil for doing it. But when he's been singing the same chorus to the same song over and over, I don't mind walking into the room to do some random task--put away laundry, grab a needed item, picking imaginary lint off a random object--all the while innocently humming or singing a better song. Sometimes he'll even ask me a little later, "Were you singing ________earlier? Because for some reason it's in my head." I think he must be highly suggestive. I might have to start saying phrases while he sleeps. "Hire a maid. Paint the bedrooms. Finish the basement. Tell me every day that I'm staggeringly beautiful. Throw out some of the junk in your office." Pure evil genius.

  • I am not a morning person. I don't like to converse until I'm well awake. I don't really even want someone to talk to me. I've been married to my beloved for nearly 20 years and he still hasn't realized this yet. He has no idea how close he's come to physical injury....

  • I made chocolate covered strawberries for the kids yesterday as a little Valentine goodie. They chowed down. I left aside a little plate of four for myself. I ate one last night. This morning, Sean couldn't find anything to eat in a hurry so he wouldn't be late for the bus. (A whole 'nother story.) I let him eat my strawberries. I cried inside with every bite he took.

  • At the bus stop, another mother made her way over to me. I knew I was in trouble. My stomach sank. Nobody comes over to talk to me unless they want to complain about my children or my dog. She told me that Sean had been teasing her child. I wasn't surprised. It's not right that it happened, and believe me, apologies were made and Sean will be dealt with when he gets home. But what I really wanted to say was: "Your child isn't innocent. He gives out his own share. I've been around him when he has. And I'm pretty sure that you might want to check out some meds for him." Obviously, I didn't say this. I'm sure she's aware of her own child's issues as most mothers are. But still. It sucks. And it didn't help that the snooty, snotty, bitchy (yeah, I said it.) self-righteous neighbor was right there. I'm sure it just confirmed for her that we are exactly what she thinks we are. Sigh.

  • Sometimes I wish that my life were a musical and that I could break into song and dance at critical moments. Seriously. I daydream about this sometimes. How awesome would it be to have a situation--like say, the above mentioned--and instead of replying, just be able to burst into a well-written, witty song and bust some moves and then just walk away? It would be hella awesome, I say.

  • Lately I have just been phoning in my performance as a mother. I am tired. I am tired of homework and outings and extras and oh, just anything that requires my time and attention. Homework right now is the bane of my existence. I don't remember my parents having to be so involved in my homework. Now, as an educator, I know the reasons behind the changes and that the methods have changed and it's all good. As a parent, I just want to whine and say: I did my time in ____ grade already! I don't want to do this project/power point/skit/poster/speech _______ (insert your own hated homework assignment)!"
  • I have a crush on Hugh Jackman.
  • I might also have the weensiest crush on Seth Myers. He just makes me laugh.
  • I listen to NPR. And I like it. I think menopause might be just around the corner.
  • There might be more confessions, but I confess that if I told them to you, you might just run away screaming.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Still Here

Have no fear. We are still alive here at Chez Sara. We survived. Sort of.

The kids ended up having four days off school last week and then had a two hour delay on Monday. After six solid days of togetherness, we were all ready for a break from each other. And my house? Well, to say that it stinks would be putting it mildly.

Oh, it's not that I didn't clean or anything. I did. But then approximately 2.5 seconds after any sort of cleaning, it was undone by someone. At least when I clean when they are in school, I can enjoy the clean for a few hours before it's undone. We didn't spend the entire time indoors, either. The kids got out and slid and skated and played. Then they came in and, despite beautiful new cubbies, managed to make my mudroom look like it barfed coats and hats and boots. Then they whined when I made them pick their stuff up and put it all away because they were tired and hungry and wahhh, I'm so mean!

So yeah. My house smells a bit like a ski lodge after a long day of people being on the slopes. Except without the charm and beautiful scenery. And right now it's too cold to do any sort of airing out. So I am cleaning and disinfecting and doing my best to get rid of the smell of sweat.
Kinda makes you want to come over for a visit, doesn't it?

While the kids managed to slip and slide and stay upright, I managed to fall. Three different times. In a distance of twenty linear feet. The only thing that was harmed was my dignity, although I was sore all over the next day. Falling could totally be considered a form of extreme exercise.

You see, we had another snowfall on Saturday. We got about 3.5 inches on top of the ice. Now the thing about this, is it gives you a rather false sense of security. When you are on ice, you move slowly and gingerly because you think "Hey, I'm on ice. I need to be careful." But when you are on snow, well, you expect to have traction, so you move a little faster. And when that snow is on top of ice that is harder than cement, well, moving faster is sheer stupidity. And y'all, I am, apparently, stupid.

I was making my way to one of the bird feeders to knock off the snow build up and my feet went right out from under me. Picture how a cartoon character looks when he slips on a banana peel. Not only did my feet go out from under me, I'm pretty sure that at one point, my body was jack-knifed and my feet were level with my head. I think I may have flailed a bit as well. I landed, my head bounced and my sunglasses flew off my head, cartwheeling through the air and landing behind me. When I pulled them out of the snow, they had about an inch of snow stuck to both sides of the lenses. And I must have knocked the sense out of myself, because I tried to put them on. Brilliant.

At that point I noticed something glinting in the snow and upon closer inspection realized that my keys had flown out of my pocket and landed several feet away. On my way to pick them up, I went down again, this time straight on my considerable rear section. I think I said "uuuummmph" when I landed. But that might just be what I thought. I think what really came out was a swear word. Or seven.

I got up again, deciding that the birds would just have to knock off their own stupid snow. As I ambled toward the house, I noticed the two spots of my previous falls and realized that the impressions left in the snow were not so much snow angel but rather snow bull moose. And it was about this point that I went down for the third time. This time I went sideways and landed on my right wrist. It popped and I had a moment of panic where I thought: "OH MY GOSH! I've broken my right wrist. That's it. Life as we know it is over. My house will go to hell in a handbasket and I will go insane from not being able to use my right hand. That's my DRINKING HAND!"

And then I moved my wrist and realized that I was just fine. Whew! Another crisis averted!

Suddenly the back door opened and my beloved called "Are you all right?"

"Did you see me fall?" I asked.

"No, but you have snow all down your back from your head to your feet," he said. "So I guess you weren't making snow angels."

"Nope. Snow bull moose," I muttered. "I make those best."

This is all to say that we are just fine and awaiting the temperature rise that is supposed to come on Sunday. So, I guess you don't need to worry about sending booze. But if you have a little sunshine that you could share, this sun-deprived mama could use some.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Icemageddon: Day 3

Please send booze.

Wait. That's probably not a very good way to start this post is it? It is -150 degrees outside and the children don't have school again for the third day in a row. While we have maintained our power during the Ice Storm That Wasn't Really An Ice Storm, (Yes, 1978 Easter Ice Storm, you are officially the Supreme Champion) we have been sort of trapped inside for the last few days.

My neighborhood is an ice rink. Literally. My eldest daughter's friend spent the night last night and put on her ice skates and skated across the front lawns. And then she had the dumb dog pull her. It was pretty awesome. (Love you, Notorious B.!) It's not that we got inches and inches of ice, but we started with a covering of snow that was already sort of solid from melting and refreezing. Then we got a half inch of ice on Monday night. Tuesday we got about 3 inches of sleet and another half inch or so of ice. Then somewhere about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning the winds kicked up and we kept hearing ice crash against the house from the trees, but thanks to buried power lines, we had no issues. So when we got up yesterday, our yard was solid. Even driving our van down the driveway left no tracks.

(Note: Even a full fledged winter emergency cannot keep my beloved from getting a tea and Diet Coke from McD's. Yes. He loves me that much. And the tea. He loves the tea.)

The main roads are passable, but the neighborhoods are not in such great shape. (You know it's bad when the robocall that informs you that your children don't have school also begs you to please do what you can to clear the bus stops.) So we haven't really left the house.

My children, in between sleeping and arguing over who gets to control the t.v. and who I love the most because I took their side in an argument, have spent time playing some video games and asking to be fed yet again. In fact, they are, at this very moment, playing "Wipeout" on the wii. (You know, like the t.v. show with the big, red balls. Yeah. Can't wait to see the pervs that get sent here from google now.) I have done my best to stay as far away from them as possible. I mean, I love them and everything, but too much togetherness can lead to bad things.

Like me requesting booze from strangers on the Internet.

So to reassure you that we are all well and to keep CPS at bay, I will leave you with pictures of (most) of my offspring and other stuff from Icemageddon 2011.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice Storm: 1978 vs. 2011

We have just been through round one of Icemageddon here. Last night I went to bed knowing that none of my children had school and I fell asleep to the sound of ice pelting my windows. When I woke up this morning and took the dog out, I didn't even leave tracks--it was all ice. So much ice, in fact, that when I stepped on the snow, it supported me and I didn't fall through. The dog had no idea what to do. It was sad really.

It is calm here right now. Gray and cold. But the forecasters tell us that MORE ICE! IS ON! THE WAY! Round two is coming and with it is the possibility of the loss of power. This has my children both a little uncertain and excited.

Now, when I was about 10, my hometown in Central Illinois experienced an ice storm on Easter weekend. I remember it being pretty big. So today, I will pit one ice storm against the other--smackdown style--and see how things differ some thirty years later.

1978: I was a child and therefore had no responsibility other than making sure I had socks on my feet.

2011: I have four children. Now I have to make sure they keep the socks on their feet should we experience any loss of heat. Toes are precious, you know.

1978: I don't remember my mother making any special preparations for that storm. I do remember going to My Store (a local market) afterwards when they had no power and seeing the melting ice cream in the freezer cases.

2011: The only real precaution I took was to buy the dog some food. I didn't want the dumb dog eating our faces should we run out of her dog food. Monday was my regular
day to go to the grocery and it was like going on Christmas Eve. I couldn't find a parking spot! I like to say that Indy is the northernmost of the Southern cities (sorry Louisville, you lose) because in many ways living here is very much like living in the south when it comes to weather. Any time there is a forecast for any accumulation, Hoosiers head to the store for milk, eggs, and bread. I am not even kidding. It was a mad house.

1978: It was April, so even though it was cold enough to get ice, it warmed up fairly quickly and was never too cold. I remember being back at school a few days later and though the school had electricity, the town was under a boil order. It was hot enough that we were sweaty after recess and had to go to the office to get our rationed half cup of boiled and cooled water.
My parents had a gas stove and kept the oven on with the door cracked open and the kitchen window half open for ventilation. Then we just layered on sweaters. My mom was able to cook meals because we had gas.

2011: It is February. It is cold. They are predicting a high of 16 for Thursday. If we lose power, it's gonna be quite chilly indeed. We don't have a gas stove, much to my chagrin. I hate cooking on an electric stove. But until we get a gas line hooked up, it's an electric stove for me. Which doesn't really help us out with the whole heat and cooking thing. However, we do have our grill hooked up to the gas line, so we're good there. We also have a gas fireplace with a blower. The blower, obviously will not work, but we will get some radiant heat from it.

1978: I don't remember anyone getting hurt or falling.

2011: Both my beloved and I have fallen already. I fell through an ice encrusted footprint in the snow while taking the dog out and have a nice bruise on my ankle. Patrick slid down the hill and fell while taking the dog out. His hands broke through the ice when he used them to catch himself. He came in with bloody hands. I blame the dog. And Icemageddon.
You drew first blood, Icemageddon! You drew first blood! ( that movie.)

1978: We didn't have cable television. Or video games. Or computers. Or cell phones. We played lots of cards.

2011: My children just might lose their little minds without all those things that they have come to view as commonplace necessities for living. Although Sean has said that he has his WWE action figures and his Hotwheels to keep him busy and his PSP and DS are fully charged in the event of an emergency. He says that if we get bored, we can always throw the ball for Tilly.
Yeah. Good times ahead.

1978: My grandparents were visiting us for Easter and were stranded with us. I loved it.

2011: My kids' grandparents (hi mom and dad!) are visiting my aunt (hi Aunt Bonnie!) in Florida and are safely away from any ice. Hey, thanks for abandoning us in our time of need.

1978: I was too young to drink.

2011: I have plenty of booze here should I need it. For, um, medicinal purposes.

Predicted Winner--1978. Memories always seem better than real life. Although 2011 could have the edge, for there is

We'll see what round two brings us. If you don't hear from me for awhile, it either means that we have lost power and are stumbling around in the dark, huddled under blankets and wondering whether or not dog meat will taste like chicken and have no access to the computer, or I'm off celebrating with a glass of wine that the weather forecasters were wrong again.

Predicted Winner--1978. Memories always seem better than real life. Although 2011 could have the edge, for it has the possibility of consumption of wine by the fireplace.