Friday, November 28, 2008

Col. Mustard, in the Library, with the Candlestick

Ok, well, not exactly.  But we did solve the mystery of Stinky Pete.  I originally posted about this almost an entire month ago, and the, er, trouble had been going on for a little under two weeks at that point.  It's been a while, and I'm so relieved, if not a little grossed out, to have figured it out.

The solution reads like this:  "The previous renters' cats, down the heating duct, with the urine."

It now makes sense that we didn't smell it until we started running the heater, heating "things" up.  We contacted our landlord who reacted in a surprisingly unsurprised manner, and then called the heating and cooling guy who is coming Monday morning to replace that section of ducting.  Until then, we have closed #4's vent, and covered it with a huge, folded towel.  Larry bought a small space heater so #4 doesn't freeze.  


Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Spirit

Dracula lived in the shower in the bathroom at the top of my stairs when I was a very little girl.  Of course he only lived there when it was dark.  His presence made it quite difficult for me to venture to the top floor by myself at night.  It also made it hard for me to get to sleep.  My bedroom was directly next to the bathroom where Dracula resided, and because of him, I would have nightmares about witches.   I would frequently, therefore, drift off to dreamland in the safety of the downstairs living room, where my parents were watching TV.  They would carry me, unknowing, up to my room and tuck me in.  

Occasionally I fell asleep before having changed into a nightgown.  I would then wake up the next morning devastated.  It was like the whole night had been a waste.  I had missed out on the optimal sleep experience.  I was cheated out of blissful rest.  I needed my jammies on.  But it was too late.  I would brood about my sad situation all day long.  Things were never right again until I had slept through the next night properly clad.

There have been years when the holidays have not seemed holiday-ish enough for me.  I fear I am facing such a season.  Thanksgiving is three days away, and it does not feel or smell or sound or taste like Thanksgiving to me yet.  Sure, I'm eating Dryer's pumpkin ice cream every night and there is serious frost each morning, but I do not anticipate one of my favorite holidays coming right around the bend.

Not only does it not feel like Thanksgiving, but this being about as late as Thanksgiving gets, it does not feel like we're only a month out from Christmas.  My closet is filled with wrapped presents, I've been playing Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis and John Denver and the Muppets on my iPod, and I've already strewn some twinkle lights on my mantle.  But no visions of sugar plums are dancing in my head.

In years past, when faced with this situation, I will begin to panic.  For in my mind, just as one should spend the night in her nightgown, one should spend the holidays in the proper spirit, or the whole thing is a waste.  The major difference being that it will take another 11 months for a shot at doing it right, rather than 16 hours.  Panicking rarely gets me in the mood.

So what to do?  I'm just not sure.  I am guessing that Wednesday will help slightly.  On Wednesday I'll make cranberry orange relish, and orange rolls, a French silk pie and a pumpkin cheesecake.  On Wednesday I'll pull down the harvest ornamentation and replace it with this year's scant Christmas decor. On Wednesday the kids and I will make a construction paper Christmas countdown chain.

But then what?  How do I avoid missing out on Christmas because I'm feeling like the daughter that Scrooge and the Grinch never had?  I'm sure I could count my blessings and lose myself in service to others.  That's the advice I'd give to someone else in my place.  But my heart's not quite buying it.

When I was little and was made to go to sleep in my bed, I'd try to stave off witchy nightmares with thoughts of birthday parties, specifically my birthday parties.  It seemed to work as well as anything.  I don't see it being quite as effective in this particular instance.  But maybe I should give it a shot.

So if you see me this holiday, please wish me a Happy Birthday instead of a Merry Christmas.  And please refrain from commenting about my pink gingerbread men pj's which I may very well have on for good measure.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tag, I'm It

Ok, I am now officially swearing off swearing these things off.  I guess if I want a spot in the bloggy world I need to play the bloggy game.  Thanks to Tink for ABC-tagging me.  Link to her survey to find out her super-cool greatest accomplishment.  In fact, go do that while I try to come up with something super-cool to say.  Go.  Now.  But please come back.

A-Attached or Single:  Attached.  Unless you're Johnny Depp or Mr. Darcy, and then I may give some consideration to that.

B--Best Friend(s):  My real best friends, Kelly and Jenna, and hopefully now that we're up here, Kim--see N below--don't blog.  (Kelly is considering it.  She's following me now, which is a good first step.)  But all of my eBFFs are listed to your right.  Try Clan of the Cave Hair.  She's probably my favorite eBFF out of nepotism.

C--Cake or Pie:  Pie.  That's easy.  Unless it's cheesecake.  Which I prefer to pie.  But I don't think cheesecake really qualifies as cake, do you?

D--Day of Choice:  Friday (see, Tink, it's almost like I'm copying you.)

E--Essential Item:  Lipstick and mascara and my blow drier/round brush have a 3-way tie.  I'm so vain.  I even think this post is about me.

G--Greatest Accomplishment: I used to say my bachelor's degree, which I received when #2 was 5 months old.  But 4 times now I have actually finished afghans that I started.  So, you know...

H--Hometown:  Northampton, MA, about which there is a book written by Tracy Kidder called (ironically) Home Town.

I--Indulgences:  Chocolate, Reading

J--January or July:  January, only because that's my birthday.  I love my birthday.  Especially if there is cheesecake.

K--Kids:  3 girls and 1 boy all call me Mom.  Plus a husband who calls me Mina and a Golden who comes when I call her.

L--Life is Incomplete Without:  I should say something meaningful like "the gospel," but my first reaction is "chocolate."  The real answer, though, is Larry, also an "L."

M--Marriage Date:  December 28, 1993

N--Number of Siblings: 1 younger brother, 1 brother-in-law and his wife (see B above), and 3 sisters-in-law and their husbands.

O--Oranges or Apples:  Well, I love both fruits if they are good, but if they stink, they are also each NASTY.  Overall, I think you can find better apples throughout the year.  A great, juicy sweet orange, though.  I am really bad at choosing.

P-Phobias:  Spiders, crowds, and losing my husband

Q--Quotes:  "Curtsey while you're thinking.  It saves time." -The Queen of Hearts in Disney's Alice in Wonderland.  Sorry, Brittany.

R--Reason to Smile:  20 followers.  Aw, come on, someone--make me smile!

S--Season:  Fall.  I love everything about it.  Maybe except soccer season which is OK, but I don't love it.

T--Tag 5 Friends:  I hate this.  I feel so presumptuous.  But: DianeWendy at Going Incognito, Ramona, Brittany, and Kristina.  You don't havta if you don't wanna.  I'll know how to take it.

U--Unknown Facts About Me:  Well, for most of you most things about me are unknown, aren't they.  Keep reading my blog.  Read past posts.  Email me.  I can't make a good list here.  Not enough time.  You'd all get bored.

V--Very Favorite Store(s):  Target (Said with a french accent, of course.)  I actually have a funny story about this.  Hmm--maybe a post for another day.

W--Worst Habit:  Is procrastination a habit?  I procrastinate famously.

X--X-ray or Ultra Sound:  I'm not quite even sure what this means.  You need different tests for different problems.  Neither of those are bad.  What I'm not too keen on is an MRI.  Those are a little freaky.

Y--Your Favorite Food:  Low Point food (I'm trying to think positively, here)

Z--Zodiac Sign:  Aquarius.  Born, I believe, on the cusp.

Added 11/22:  Check out April, who took my tag, and has a way cool blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More On Aging

How does one go from looking forward to getting older to resenting it in less than two years? If I think about it, the process has actually only taken three months.  It began when we moved to Idaho.

During the four years we spent in the mountains, I had always been the youngest by one or two if not the youngest adult at church.  My friend who had children the age of my children and who served with me in Primary that entire time, was 11 years older than me.  The other women were retirement age.  At school there were moms younger than me, but it seemed that more of them were older.  At least that was true of the parents I hung out with.  Getting older did indeed give me added validity.

Here we live in a community filled with families.  There are certainly parents older than I. More seem younger.  Many of my kids' teachers are younger than I.  

Though I've had this blog for 2 1/2 years, it's only since we moved that I've really entered the "blogging" community.  (What can I say?  I'm a little lonely.  It's easier to sit here and make pretend friends on line than it is to go "out there" and find real ones.)  I am finding that many of my fellow bloggers are very young.  Like, I-would-have-hired-you-to-baby-sit-my-kids-or-could-have-been-your-Young-Women-leader-a-few-years-back, kind of young.  I am grateful for anyone over the age of 30 who blogs.

It's not really age that's the problem.  I'm fine with that.  I have no reservations telling anyone who asks.  I am 34.  I will be 35 in January.  This is not ancient.  It's the increasing number of adults who were kids when I was already an adult that makes me feel old.  Twice recently I have been "complimented" on the fact that I don't look old enough to have two middle schoolers.  Ok, yeah, that's nice, thank you.  But this really says to me, wow, you are OLD.  Suddenly I feel it.

Today, I was helping in #3s class.  Her teacher had read them a book about desert life and was pulling up the internet right there on the classroom pull down screen to research both the author of the book and desert life.  He was having trouble getting their attention.  I couldn't believe it.  This was such cool technology, amazing compared to the reel to reel films I watched in  elementary school.  And I said so.  The kids gave me a blank stare.  They have no idea what a film reel is.  The teacher (only about 6 years my junior) said, "Oh come on, you're not that old."  Well, yes.  If having watched films on a projector makes me old, then yes, I am that old.  Video technology was certainly there in the very early 80s, but it was expensive, I never saw it in a classroom until maybe 6th or 7th grade.  

You know,  it's a lie that my attitude changed only with the move.  I suddenly remember posting about the girls' middle school dance.  That made me feel old, too.  And that was June.  Well, perhaps the move has just accelerated the inevitable.  My baby is about to turn 7, and I am about to turn into a fogey.  Maybe that's okay.  I'll be good at it.  I have a lot of old person habits already.  I'm always cold, I knit, and Larry and I do the crossword.  I'm sure there's more to that list, but I can't recall.  My memory is going.

Where's my flannel blanket?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Safety First

I will never cease to be amazed at the influence of trial attorneys and class action lawsuits on product packaging.  "Oh, you mean that hot coffee might burn me?"  And so it began.  And so it continues ...

Larry recently purchased a set of little letter openers from Staples.  Nothing fancy.  Just those little plastic things with a blade embedded to slice envelopes.  Fortunately, it came with some safety advice for our benefit.  "They," the elusive, omnipresent "they" who seem to know what is good and healthy for us better than we ourselves, have decided that goggles aren't just for use with power tools anymore:

The bad news is that we cannot find our safety goggles at the moment.  So though I hate to admit it, we've been flirting with danger, opening letters without goggles.  Irresponsible, I know.  And a bad example to the kids as well.  It will give them permission some day, I am sure, to use unsafe letter-opening practices.  And how will I feel when a flyaway envelope shred, or worse yet an opener slipped out of an over-exuberant hand, hits them in their unprotected eye?  I will feel like the horrible mother that I am.  And worst of all, because of the warning, I will have no legal case against Staples.

Please.  What's next?  A welding mask for nail clippers?  Maybe steel-toed boots for a vacuum.  Latex gloves with white-out.  Just so long as they don't get sued.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where I've been ...

Kristina P. was kind enough to ask where I've been this past week.  Thank you for noticing my absence.  I feel loved.  

To be honest, I have been busy with real live, non-virtual life.  I mean REALLY booked.  I'm not really the type to give a laundry list of mundane activities that mean little to anyone but myself.  But I will say that Monday I spent about 6 hours picking out carpeting and tile for our house that's being built.  A little stressful at the time, but I have a great designer helping me keep everything straight, and once it was done I was very excited.  I have tile samples laid out all over our family room floor.

I guess ultimately my trouble is that I have yet to figure out how to be good in the blogging world and the actual world at the same time.  Something gets neglected.  This week it's been you guys.  Sorry for that.  Please enjoy my boobie post below.

Express Yourself

In an effort to maintain a fair and balanced blog, I am following my modesty post with a post about the boobie shirt.

Last week Larry and I were eating lunch at Taco Bell.  (Now before you all accuse me of having poor taste in Mexican food, I need to inform you that I in fact have excellent taste in Mexican food.  I also like Taco Bell.  I just don't categorize Taco Bell as Mexican food.)  We were sitting in a booth by the soda fountain, as this was the table with the most sun, and I was cold.  This was also a desirable location for engaging in one of my favorite pastimes, people watching.  I watched as folks waited for their orders, emptied their trays, and filled and refilled their drinks.

One guy passed back and forth several times.  He did not particularly catch my attention other than to note that he was not very attractive, and by that I mean that he was quite unattractive.  It wasn't until his last refill before leaving the restaurant that I happened to read his T-shirt.  "Boobies Make Me Smile."  Something about a thirty-something ugly guy wearing an article of clothing with the word "boobies" screen printed on it made me burst into hysterical laughter.  It was absurd.  They seemed words more fitting for a shirt on a lewd teen-aged boy or a tongue-in-cheek onsie for a breast-fed baby.

I began to imagine circumstances he'd find himself in during a day, and wondered how his, er, statement would be received.  I thought of him making a deposit at the bank, likely because Larry and I went to Taco Bell after making a deposit.  What if he was helped by a well endowed teller?  What if he smiled at her as he said hello?  Could she help but wonder if he was only smiling at her boobies?  

What if he encountered a large chested pharmacist?  A grocery checker wearing a 38DD?  A buxom state trouper with the power to ticket him for smiling at her boobies while going 50 in a 35?  That facial expression on him was now entirely tainted by his wardrobe choice.

The  social scientist in me wished I had seen the shirt in enough time to take off my pea coat to see if he'd smile at my boobies.  Expressing this regret to Larry, he kindly offered smile at them for me himself instead.  

Maybe I have it backwards.  Maybe instead of inappropriate and offensive, this is a shirt that should be standard issue for the XY chromosome set.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Package Update

Oooooh, pretty:

How exciting!  This is going to be SOOO much fun:

I can't wait until Thursday:

Thursday night, the unwrapping:

It's Ruthie! :

Happy birthday, #2:

Kit and Ruthie, Great Depression BFFs:
The folks at American Girl sure help a mom out.

Well, what did you think it was?  Oh my, the sick minds of some of the girls who read my blog!  Do you actually think if I got one of "those" packages in the mail that I'd post about it?  My dad reads this, for crying out loud!  And my daughter.  

If you want that kind of info from me, you'll have to email.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Modesty is the Best Policy

I've been brainwashing my kids to be modest since they were walking and talking.  I mean, I don't mind sun dresses on babies, but once you're in kindergarten, you need sleeves, little sister.  Yes, I'm one of those moms.

Why?  Because I was allowed to dress less modestly than I am comfortable with, looking back.  I am embarrassed by photographs of myself with my returned-missionary, one-day-to-be-husband boyfriend, wearing tank tops and shorts with hems closer to my crotch than my knee.  I will grant that tank tops were not what they are now.  They used to have 2 to 3" wide straps.  Now, they look like lingerie.  And we girls were careful not to let our bra-straps show.  'Cause that's skanky.  Or it was.  Now it's "part of the outfit."  Ugh.

But back to my kids.

This brainwashing has produced some funny moments, as well as modest kids.  There was the day when #3 at age 3 shouted, "She's not being modest!" as we passed by a hussy mom dressed in hot pants, a push-up bra, and see-through camisole, picking up the kids from school.  Maybe she wasn't a hussy.  Maybe she was sweet and God-fearing and nice as could be.  But that's not the look she was going for.

Then there were the months when #4 (my only son) was about 4 and thought that "modest" translated into "wear a shirt."  I'm assuming this misconception came from the fact that in hearing my tutorials on modest dress he heard the common theme of covered shoulders and midriffs.  However it came about, no one was allowed to see him without a shirt.  He'd run from the bath to his room, wrapped in his towel to get that shirt on before his sisters saw him.  Underwear and pants, on the other hand, were optional.

Then this past Saturday I had a great conversation with #3.  Picking her up from her friend's birthday party, she was giving me the report.  She definitely loved the eating doughnuts off of a string, but being a fruitaphobe, she wouldn't even try to bob for apples.  I was gratified that she also found the bobbing for apples thing to be a little too "germy."  

According to #3, some of the boys who were bobbing for apples got their shirts wet, and removed them.  Apparently, they went shirtless for the rest of the party.  Number 3 was appalled by this.  She proceeded to get up on a little modesty police soap box (not at the party, although that would have been priceless--just for her mother) about how nasty it was to have shirtless boys at the party.  

"One of them, you could even see their underwear," she ranted.  "It was gross.  Plus, I mean, when they get big, with big, hairy chests, and they take off their shirts, it's like, no one wants to see THAT.  So get used to a shirt now."

You go, girl.  I have no use for big, hairy chests, myself.  I wanted to applaud and crack up all at the same time.  I did neither.  I chuckled, grabbed a pen and scribbled her words on the back of the party invitation, not at all distracted from my driving, and putting neither my daughter and I nor anyone else who may have been driving that country road in danger.  What can I say?  It was just too good to lose.  

Modestly lessons, check.  Driver safety lessons, ...  Aren't driving lessons the dad's job?

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's Here!

I am so excited.  It came today in it's plain, brown wrapping.  No company is listed in the return address.  I appreciate their discretion.  I need to hide it under my bed before the kids get home.  I'll have to get it out once they're in bed.  I can hardly wait!  I can show Larry.  Although he doesn't usually get into it as much as I do, believe it or not.  And because #2 has been stalking my blog, it's not really safe to talk about here ...

... until Thursday night.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

An Open Letter to Ringo Starr

Peace and Love, Peace and Love.  

Ringo, I am writing to you today to inform you in peace and love that after the 20th of November, I will no longer be accepting signed memorabilia from you.  Please do not send me anything you have signed;  concert t-shirts, LP or CD covers, key chains or tote bags.   I simply DO NOT HAVE TIME to accept anything of this nature and it will be returned if it is dated after November 20th.

I was raised as a Beatles fan.  Though my favorite was John, (you may imagine my devastation at his death when I was but 6 years old) I've always liked you, thought you were funny and cute and phenomenal on the drums.  I could listen to Yellow Submarine, Act Naturally, and Octopus's Garden all day long.  But the fact remains that I NO LONGER HAVE TIME for you to be my idol.  Fortunately, I will continue to have time for Paul, who I am sure will never himself be too busy for the gratification of gushing fan mail.  

Paul, please feel free to continue to send me signed Beatles, Wings, or solo memorabilia, which I will accept and gratefully acknowledge receipt of.  A signed copy of Flaming Pie would be nice.

Peace and Love, Peace and Love, 

Paul fanatic

**Please, dear readers, if this doesn't make much sense to you, be sure to follow the link in the text above to Ringo's announcement on You Tube.**