Monday, September 29, 2008

Not Tone Deaf, Just Phone Deaf

Today I was taking advantage of the fact that it was not raining for a few hours, and went outside to plant my window boxes in an autumn arrangement. The kids, Thing 1 and Thing 2 remained inside, mesmerized by TV and computer game, respectively.

While up to my arms in potting soil, I heard the phone ring. And ring, and ring. Finally, I bellowed "someone get the phone!" Or actually, more like: "someone get the phon-nuh!!!" And still I heard: ring, ring, ring. Finally, I heard the answering machine going. Clearly Thing 1 and Thing 2 have inherited phone deafness from their father.

On the weekends, when we are all in the house, this same scene will play out, with me finally rushing to find the phone and dropping whatever I was doing, and hopefully not tripping over anything, to get there in time. Meanwhile Hubby, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are invariably positioned much closer to the phones and are not engaged in productive work (i.e., not cleaning, doing laundry, doing paid work, or cooking. Instead they are either on the TV, on the phone or reading something non-essential.)

Whenever I go out solo, like on my night for choir practice, I invariably come home to the house full of my family and the answering machine full, indicated by the light blinking. Each one in turn, when interrogated by me claims not to have heard the phone at all. Sometimes Hubby lamely claims he heard it but that he was putting the kids to bed. The kids are 10 and 12 years old. They put themselves to bed!

So next time you call, let it ring a good long while before you give up. I might be outside, or in the attic and no one else in the family will pick up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rain Rain, Go Away, Little Hanna Won't Go Out Okay?

Well, I have been crazy busy with work this last week and haven't had time to post. Today is the day. However, it is pouring out and Hanna, our new puppy has zero interest in going out in the rain. So, I have spent much of the day trying to persuade her, then giving up and carrying her, outside to "do her business." If we humans can be appreciative of indoor plumbing, it is on the rainy days when we can be most appreciative of it. Of course, how Hanna would survive in the wild if she didn't live in the comfort of our home, is beyond me.

When I do get Hanna outside and plop her down on the lawn and tell her to "do her business," she gazes up at me with a look of pathetic disdain. Then she tries to run back into the house. I try rationalizing with her. "Come on, you must have to go!" "It doesn't look like it is going to let up soon, so get back here and just pee, okay?" This has happened three times already today. I finally took her across the street and under some bigger branches which diffused the pouring rain somewhat, and there, at long last, we had success.

Not exactly my idea of a relaxing day of good book and a cup of tea. Especially as since unless Hanna is sleeping, she is confined in the kitchen and sitting in a kitchen chair or stool just takes away the "relaxing" part of the reading experience for me. But, as soon as she heads into her crate for a nap (which she is not likely to do since she has technically been on zero walks), I'll escape to my comfy couch with my book.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Is It Live Or Is It Mom-orex?

Last night as I told Thing 1 for the 143 time that if she bunches up her towel on the towel rack after showering that it will never dry, I had an epiphany moment. It doesn't matter what I say, I might as well be a tape recorder. This is how the statement is conveyed, or actually received. In fact, I might as well have been speaking in that same "wah wah wah wah wah wah" language used by all of the adults in the Peanuts videos.

So I am starting on a new (yes, back for the 34th time) mission to say things exactly once-the same way I am supposed to train the dog. With dogs, if you say "sit" ten times, then make a physical correction, the dog won't do it until the tenth time when you make the physical correction. So, I am going to go right to my version of a physical correction. I am going to throw the bunched up, wet towel on her bed. I figure then I will have her attention. When she asks what it is doing there, I will tell her for the 144th time that if she bunches up her towel on the towel rack after showering that it will never dry. I am thinking (or desperately hoping) that in this way she will actually listen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tightening The Belt When You Don't Wear Belts

I gave up wearing belts a long time ago. I am already short, I don't need to be cut into two by a belt. So how does one tighten the figurative belt without actually wearing one? Well, due to the fact that the economy seems perched on the edge of certain doom, I have been vascillating between not shopping, eating out etc., in an effort to conserve the funds we have in case one of us loses our job, and in the face of rising prices for just about everything, and spending money in an effort to single-handedly keep the economy going. Whether I spend or save on things depends on no real logic.

We definitely are eating out less, but then again, I like cooking and am always on some health kick or other, which makes it hard to eat out anyway. Then again, when I am feeling weak and need emotional sustenance, I might decide that the economy needs a boost and we do too, so off we go to the ice cream shop and get sundaes.

I have definitely cut back on shopping for clothes-for the whole family, not just me. I didn't buy any back-to-school clothes for the kids because I accurately predicted that the weather would hover around 90 degrees the first few days of school. Truthfully, they have enough stuff to wear. They just got some new shoes-those feet always seem to grow faster than the rest of their bodies.

As for me, I have avoided going into clothing stores in order not to succumb to temptation. Okay, well there was that little trip to Nordstrom's the other day when I had to pick up a sweatshirt that they mended (it came partially undone a month after I bought it-at full price!)
When I was leaving, my eyes could not help but lock on a pretty plumb colored sweater which would work quite nicely for the special event for my job at the end of the month. Helping the sluggish economy was just the icing on the cake.

Then there was the little trip to AVEDA while in the mall. Well, I did have to use up the $7.26 remaining on the gift card my sister had given me for my birthday back in February. With the economy in such a precarious state, there is no telling when AVEDA might upsticks from the mall and go under, without hopes of a federal bailout. So, in the interest of protecting my sister's investment, I bought the $20 facial wash. Okay, so I spent a little more than the $7.26, but I challenge you to buy anything at Aveda for $7.26. Even the travel size products are $7 and with tax in CT, that is $7.42...

Never mind, I don't want to tempt you to go to the mall, you might end up with a few extra items that you weren't intending to buy either. If you do, cheer up, at least you are doing your part in trying to save our fragile economy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fool's Gold

After staying up late to solve the underwear shortage crisis and indeed solving "underweargate" I went to change the laundry from the washer to the dryer. What to my weary eyes should I find, but what was like Aztec Gold to my bleary eyes. Or more appropriately, Fool's Gold, because only a fool like me would be excited to find extra laundry to fold in the dryer at that hour of the night. But, never the less, that precious load held not one, but two pairs of clean underwear belonging to Thing 2, so I almost happily folded it. I chucked the other load into the dryer and off I stumbled to bed. Let's hope I remember that load today, or we could repeat this sad exercise again real soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

All Night Laundry

I was heading to bed just now, exhausted and a bit guilt-ridden over not having posted since Wednesday. I knew that I should have carved out the time to post, but I couldn't be deterred from that one goal: falling into bed. I was almost there, I had the bed within my line of vision, when my son uttered the words that undoubtedly send a chill through every weary parent's overworked heart. Those dreaded five words? " I have no more underwear."

Unless you make your kid go to school commando, there is just no way of getting around this. Sure, sure, I had been meaning to show them how to do their own laundry (not just how to fold it, and the term "fold" is used very loosely here), but didn't have the time or energy of late. So off to the basement it was with me.

Instead of going to bed, I am now writing this blog (and trying to stay awake) while I wait for the rinse and spin cycles to conclude. Yipee! What an exciting life I lead. Oh, and did I mention I got up at 5:40 this morning to go to the gym? Yes siree, I am finding out first hand that sleep is for the privileged, or at least for those whose kids have at least one pair of clean underwear. Instead of trying to slog through Three Cups of Tea, the book I am trying to read, it is going to be "wish I had had three cups of tea" maybe then I wouldn't be so weary.

Did I also mention that I was particularly looking forward to bed tonight as both Thing 2 and Thing 1 (not to be outdone) had mini-mental breakdowns this afternoon? To be fair, Thing 2's mental breakdown really borderred on full -fledged mental breakdown. Apparently, he was incapable of communicating in logical terms that he was overwhelmed with his school and soccer and LEGO team load on Mondays. So instead, he chose the moment when I asked him how "calendar" was correctly spelled (he had gotten it wrong on a spelling test) to burst out crying, tell me he didn't have to do that and run out of the house and down the street, in his socks. Okay, so the irony of the word "calendar" being misspelled and the fact that the kid is overscheduled wasn't lost on me (even as I looked at my watch and wondered if the runaway was going to return and regain his composure in time to make it to soccer practice in 20 minutes).

When I finally got him back into the house and we discussed the problem rationally (as much as you can with a 10 year old boy), and we ruled out anything more sinister going on (predators, bullies, etc.) he settled down, I called his soccer coach and told him Thing 2 would be a no show, I banned him from the computer for the rest of the week for running away (even if it was just down the road and in the bushes-out of my line of vision means out of line to me), Thing 1 decided to then pitch her own fit. When she learned that Thing 2's breakdown revolved around a perceived excessive level of homework, she decided to scream and cry and do everything in her power to make me realize that if anyone had too much homework, it was her. Doubly irritating to her was of course the fact that I called her on this behavior. Thing 1 is nothing if not a wonderful drama queen (though sadly for her, she will not be watching TV drama for the next week for her own drama today).

I could go on and chronicle how I then had to race out to Thing 1's Open House where I got to be a Middle School student again and change classes from room to room and meet her teachers. Being treated like a Middle School student was quite appropriate at this point in my day, considering the emotional upheaval I had just been through. However, I digress, from the laundry that is. I think the spin cycle is over and I have spinned this story as far as I can. Time to chuck that stuff in the dryer and get some rest before I wake up to the call of "I told you I had no more underwear!" in the morning (you don't think I am going to wait up while the stuff dries, do you?).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Currently In Therapy Because My Parents Wouldn't Put My Student Of The Month Sticker On Their Car"

This slogan is what I feared my daughter would some day sport on her car if I didn't put her "My child was student of the month" bumper sticker on our car. So, even though I had a strict policy of not putting bumper stickers on my car, I broke the rule. You see, I really was worried that she would think having a bumper sticker free car was more important than recognizing her achievement as Student of the Month (leaving aside the fact that there are 1,254 such stickers around town.) I know it is really silly, but I had to succumb. Or else all future failures could easily be pinned on that bumper sticker, or lack there of, actually.

Of course, it was easier to break the rule and put the sticker on my car as I had already unofficially broken the rule by putting a minibumper sticker on the car so that I could park at my gym. I rationalized that one as health related, however.

I am not really sure what I have against bumper stickers. I think it is kind of like a box of chocolates. Once I start with one, I might not be able to stop. I might have to order some of the really funny ones I have seen, such as: "If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother," and "Ordain Women Priests or Stop Dressing Like Them," or "I Love My Country, But It Is Time To Start Seeing Other People." I could quickly see my car wallpapered with bumper stickers. Not a pretty look, and more importantly, really identifiable if I pull a crazy driving manuever (moi?).

So, I will stick with the gym sticker and the "Student of the Month" sticker. Putting those stickers on could save me years in hospital and therapy bills.

I'm Off-Duty

"I'm Off-Duty." I like to try that line on my kids from time to time. Especially the longer version-"Get it yourself, I'm off-duty." If only I really were. Though often, just this one liner, spoken with the correct intonation of total annoyance, inspires new heights of independence in the kids, Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Sometime I have to remember to take it out of auto-pilot, step back and realize what the kids are capable of doing. In doing so a few years back, I realized they could set the table, dust, clean the toilets and sinks, and also fold the clothes. Of course I don't make them do all of these things all of the time. But the setting of the table and the folding of the clothes are regular chores for them. The cleaning is assigned whenever I begrudgingly assign myself other cleaning tasks (I do have a strict "don't look down policy" in the kitchen but you can only take that so far before the Health Department steps in.

Truthfully, if I paused to think about it, there are even more things they are capable of doing. It just takes time and energy to show them how to do it once or twice. Like cooking for instance. Or yardwork. A small amount of time spent now showing the kids how to do things saves time for my husband and I down the road and, more importantly, teaches the kids life skills. Maybe they will have housecleaners and landscapers in their future, but either way, they will know how to do these things and appreciate the effort it takes whoever does these tasks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Key Points

I have a Post Office Box key as part of my new role as the Director of the Foundation. I got it a few weeks ago. I lost it yesterday. Well ,sort of. Somehow I knew it was buried somewhere in the recesses of my handbag, but of course I couldn't find it at the Post Office.

Luckily the guy in charge of PO boxes took pity on me and got me the mail. As I drove back I was trying to decide how I was going to explain that I had already lost the key only a few weeks into the job. I figured if it didn't turn up I would have to slink back into the post office, in dark, oversized sunglasses and inquire what the fee for a replacement key was (and not tell hubby who would undoubtedly say it is because I rush around so much that I lost it).

I am happy to report that after "Operation Handbag Storm" I did unearth the key. It was lodged between the two sets of my children's motion sickness bracelets. Why I still carry around those motion sickness bracelets (or really half of the stuff that was excavated out of the bag) is really one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" things.

You see, I think it has been at least two years since either child has actually needed the bracelets. However, I am positive that the minute I remove them from my handbag, one or other of Thing 1 or Thing2 will projectile vomit on the very next car trip of length, or airline trip, or both. I know this for a certainty because I am a life long sufferer of Murphy's law.

Just today for instance, I had to go to the doctor for a quick follow up visit. I didn't want to go and had tried to weasel out, saying I felt fine, had my period, blah blah blah. They said to come anyway. This appointment was at their office next to the hospital.

Most people who visit the hospital elect to park in the adjacent parking garage for convenience. I hate that garage with a passion. It takes longer to get out of that garage than it does to get ones hair permed. In fact, I do anything I can to avoid the garage. I make all my appointments in the 'burbs if I can at all help it. I would have made this one there too, but I had had to reschedule it to go to the bloomin Post Office the day before, site of the missing key discovery.

So, instead of parking in the garage today, I did what I usually do and found a meter spot on the street. I put in seventy five cents which was good for 45 minutes. The doctor's office had told me the appointment should take no more than half of an hour and I was there one minute before my appointment.

So I ran to the office and took a seat. And sat, and sat and sat. Then I got a room 22 minutes later. I got prepared to see the doctor and sat looking at the clock and watched slowly tick towards, then past, the time when my meter would expire. In the end I got out of there 20 minutes after the meter expired.

While the doctor was running late, apparently the meter maid was not. Exactly ten minutes after the quarters ran out, she or he came along and issued a parking violation. If I had extra time on my hands, which of course, thanks to the MD's office I did not, I would have sat in that parking spot just to get my money's worth now that I was $20 in the whole! Actually, the fee was $25 but if you paid it within 72 hours, you got a reduction. Sure, I can pay within 72 hours, I have nothing else to do but go to the Parking Authority (and where do I park for that?). But alas, if I mailed it in time and made it a money order (for an extra $1.05) I could be done with it and "save" $3.95. How lucky.

So, next time I am at a parking meter, someone remind me how I always end up a victim of Murphy's law. Remind me to put in an extra quarter or two. In the meantime, those motion sickness bracelets are staying in my handbag, along with the Post Office box key.

Monday, September 8, 2008

And They Called It Puppy Love

It all happened so fast and now we have a new love in our life. Meet Hanna. Hanna is a rescue puppy from Tennessee. Her mom was rescued from a shelter, and she gave birth to Hanna in a foster home. Through the alignment of moon and stars, she made her way into our home and hearts.
For many months we were numb from having had to put to sleep our first rescue dog, Kramer. The house was empty without him and I had no loving companion to take walks with me. We were also quite consumed by worrying for my sister Debbie who is battling breast cancer, and wanted to be available to care for her. But now Debbie is almost done with chemo, with one more round to go, and my kids are back at school and somehow I knew it was time. The timing was right because we have no travel plans in the next four months thanks largely to soccer season. I have a new job that allows me to continue to work from home except for an average of two meetings a month. So, I began the search for a dog.
We applied with two Westie organizations as the children had been quite taken by Sophie, our friends' Westie. We also inquired about another samoyed rescue in NJ. I visited the Humane Society where we had adopted Kramer 15 years ago. I searched on Petfinder. Then on Petfinder I saw a cute puppy that was half Great Pyrenees half Lab being offered by I applied online. Quincey, one of the leaders of this tiny dog rescue sent an email back on Friday morning saying that she had gotten my application and it looked good and that I should call her. I sent her an email and asked her when a good time to call was. She sent back an email and said after three or over the weekend. My heart sank. I figured that Little Bit was either not available or promised to someone else otherwise she would want me to call sooner. So, I sent an email and asked if Little Bit was still available and also attached my tribute to Kramer, our former rescue. Withing 15 minutes of sending the tribute, the phone rang. It was Quincey. She had been so moved by what I had written that she wanted to offer us a puppy whose adoption had just fallen through due to another family's health emergency. The puppy was Hanna. (My mother in law pointed out that in this fashion Kramer had actually found his replacement.)
Within 24 hours of first speaking to Quincey, Hanna was in our car and coming home with us. She had taken an overnight transport from Tennessee with 77 other dogs, all being rescued. The kids decided to call her Hanna as Tropical Storm Hanna came on the same day and Hanna was driven through it to come to us.
It is nice to have a new companion and fan in our house. It is also nice to see how the kids interact with her. This is their first puppy. What is somewhat sad is the fact that Thing 1, my daughter pointed out that Hanna will be with us all her life, but that she and her brother, Thing 2 will be gone in 6 and 8 years respectively, gone to college that is. Yikes, that gives it a lot of perspective and is a reminder to love and treasure the time I have with my kids because, before I know it, they will have gone off into the world the way Hanna went off into the world to meet us. Luckily, I know they will be back to visit and that Hanna will be here to keep us company.
In the span of the lives of two dogs, my children will have come and gone through my everyday life. Sad, but that is life. Thank you Hanna, for reminding me to cherish these moments while I have the kids in my life every single day.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Guess The War-Drobe Was A Fake

So now on the gun website, I found the Sarah Palin gun-tottin bikini photo on claims it was photoshopped. What is scarier is that they still like it. Here is what the website says:

"Awesome! Now, some would argue that the doctored picture above passes as political humor and is meant to be harmless, since the picture is so obviously fake, others disagree, and say that these stunts hurt the political process. Whatever it may be there’s no question this is an awesome Photoshop job."

Maybe we should change the name "wardrobe" all together... Peacerobe? Paxrobe? Of course, I am sure the word really originally came from "ward" and "robe." If that bikini photo goes around the world, it will do wonders for our image and we might all have to check into a "ward"...

A Heartbeat Away?

In case you can't see the picture of Sara Palin (and
you must-go to
little did I know
it would give new meaning for my post label of "war-drobe"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Does "ShenMin" Mean "Desperate Fool" in Chinese?

Tired of having clumps of my own hair in my drain, on my floor and in my hands, I decided to take instead, matters into my hands and investigate herbal supplements to stop the mass follicle evacuation. What I settled on was an herbal supplement called "Shen Min."

I read about ShenMin in one of my magazines and checked it out at Whole Foods. According to the Whole Foods lady, it is the product that gets the best reviews from people she encounters. So I thought, okay I will give it a try, and a try, and a try. Turns out you have to use it for three months to see if it works at all. At $30 a pop, that is not a cheap experiment. Nevertheless, the plumber is coming over today to unclog our shower drain, and that isn't going to be cheap either, so maybe this is an investment of sorts.

Still, the skeptical side of me wonders if I am just being taken in by yet another health and beauty company that is marketing to our desperation to revert to the way things used to be, and not face reality. In this case, the reality that I am losing lots of my hair. Does Shen Min mean Desperate Fool in Chinese? I will let you know. I did check out the internet and found mixed reviews for Shen Min. Were all the good reviews written by Shen Min employees? That is what the skeptical side of me always presumes.

Maybe it will just stop the excessive shedding, without adding real volume. But if it does, that will be fine. Anyway, I have embarked on the experiment, so "hair goes!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

School Daze

Okay, I have pulled myself out from under the pile of school documents I need to have filled out tonight, and the checks I needed to write for various collections, field trips, etc. to write this. Every year I forget, in my eagerness to send the kids back to school, of the mountain of paperwork that must be filled out each new year for each kid. After the 45th form I find myself filling out my daughter's birthday (Thing 1) with my son's birth year (Thing 2). Yikes.

Organized though we were, having all listed school supplies safely purchased two weeks before school started, nevertheless, we faced the inevitable school supply crisis this afternoon. This consisted of the crucial and immediate need for additional school supplies that absolutely have to, positively must, be purchased for Thing 1, if her life is meant to be any sort of success. You see, since she isn't an eighth grader (she is in seventh), she didn't get the eighth grade school supplies list, or else, she would have known that she (read me) needed to buy a bound composition book for Spanish (she is a year ahead of the other kids as she took the language in the UK for three years). This obviously is crucial for tonight's homework and cannot wait another minute.

So, off I go to Staples (is there any other choice? sad really) to get the composition book while she does her homework before she has to go off to soccer practice and I have to figure out dinner. Small window of opportunity here folks. So I race into Staples, half crazed, searching madly for the composition books, and encountering no less than 769 people there. At this point, I am hoping there are any left. Eureka, composition books. But wait, do I go for the clinical "TV screen at 2 am" looking cover, or the cool hot pink and black tiger stripe? The cool one looks like it is on sale for 99 cents. But the other doesn't appear to be marked down. Ugh. What the hell? Who has time for this, I get both and then lap through the aisles frantically trying to predict the next item that Thing 1 or Thing 2 will absolutely positively have to have tomorrow, or else they will definitely turn out to be degenerate adults down the road.

By the way, Thing 1, being a law and order, compliant, don't want to stand out in a crowd or I might have to kill myself kind of gal, picked the very traditional "TV screen at 2 am" looking cover. The small ray of luck was that it cost 99 cents too.