Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dead, Dried-Out Reptiles and Appliance FAILS

The day has started out with a general foulness to it.

One only needs to glance at the kitchen sink to see the gig of epic proportions ahead of me.

The difficulty of this gig is compounded by the fact that I had to unload the entire contents of the dishwasher to
rewash them after some gross malfunction caused it to spray chunks of food onto the dishes. The chunks originated from, most likely, the garbage disposal.

It is
so ironic that the two appliances we replaced for the nice young couple who bought our home in Des Moines were 1.) the garbage disposal, and 2.) the dishwasher.

Before I do the dishes this morning , however, I have to clean the sink. More specifically, one HALF of the sink. This is because the side of the sink with the garbage disposal is "out of order" until further notice.

Perhaps it says a lot about me that this whole situation baffles me. My little brain is overwhelmed as it lacks the ability to problem solve (which is
another reason I'm happy to have married Chris. He is a fantastic problem solver).

How does one do dishes, specifically rinse, with only on side of a sink working? How did people do it in the old days? I would never have survived if I was born 100 years ago, truly.

Finishing the dishes today will be one of today's great accomplishments.

The other one will be giving Sven a bath.

The baby apparently knows how to open doors, so we will ALSO be taking a trip to Target for doorknob childproofing apparatuses.

She opened the door and watched with a mild curiosity as the dog flew past her and down the street. There was much commotion coming from our house at that moment this morning, as Wes began weeping because he had left the door unlocked. This scared Miss M, who started crying too.

"It's myyyyy faaauuuuuult," he wailed. "Sven iiis going to diiiiiiiiiiiieeeeee, and it is mmyyyyyyyy fault."

"Yes it is," I agreed, to which Chris pulled me aside out of earshot of the 8 year old.

"Go tell him it isn't his fault," he ordered. "If Sven gets eaten by an alligator, Wes will believe, for the rest of his life that it was his fault."

I relayed this message onto Wes; no parent-of-the-year-award for me .

Sven was let out two days ago (these events usually occurs in clusters) when the boys were home, so we were able to send them out to fetch him. Although Sven evaded the boys for a short time, he unsuccessfully attempted to run through a palm thicket and found himself stuck.

Today, Cal was already at school and Wes was on his way out to the bus stop when the escape occurred.

We were left to our own wiles, which isn't much as Chris announced he had to take a shower and I was in a tank top with a shelf bra ~ not the kind of support needed to be chasing a Cairn Terrier whose maximum speed is about 25 miles per hour (I'm NOT making that up; we learned this once when he got out in Iowa and he chased our car down the street).

Luckily, one of the parents at Wes' bus stop cared more than we did and caught him. He dragged him down the street by his collar to our doorstep.

I looked down at the wretched thing at my feet, who had quite obviously went for another dip in the freshwater canal in our backyard. I silently cursed the alligator that swims in the canal for missing yet another fantastic opportunity for a good meal.

"Thank you so much," I said to the nice man.

"I think he needs a bath," he laughed.


He is currently locked in the boys' bathroom (which is already disgusting) with the toilet seat up in case he gets thirsty. I'm not attempting that feat until much later; it is something I must mentally prepare for.

While I was outside retrieving the dog I couldn't help but notice the "cold front" that had passed through our part of the state overnight. It was positively beautiful. The humidity was gone and there was a slight chill in the air ("chill" being 65 degrees). I walked back inside and after throwing the dog in the bathroom and shutting the door, I began to open windows.

The windows either a.) have never been opened, or b.) have never been cleaned out. I enlisted the help of Chris to take care of the dead frogs and geckos, and I vacuumed out the bugs, spider webs and toad turds.

I am reminded why we like to buy new houses: I don't like dealing with other people's problems. It is tempting to buy a used house, momentarily, when I think about all of the window treatments that need to be purchased and installed and all of the flat-painted walls that need several coats of paint.

The trade off will be that there will be no jacked up garbage disposals or dishwashers. They will be new and
ALL OURS. There won't be any dirt or dead reptiles in the window sills. And the unmentionable matter on and around the toilets will have come from something that I married or birthed. Although it is still gross, it is a little less gross when I think of it that way.

I'm counting the days until we can move into our new home.

But now I need to figure out how to do all of these dishes, because the ants are back in full force and probably are wondering what ant-nirvana they stumbled on to, what with all of the dirty dishes on the counter and all.

Four months, three weeks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Semi-Automatics and Natural Disasters

Hurricane season is winding down and it appears as if we will be receiving no action this year.

I have to admit that this is a tad disappointing to me.

Granted, we were the ones in the Midwest who, in the midst of a county-wide tornado warning, would stand outside to see if we could have a gander at the twister.

This activity was strongly discouraged by the local weather dorks, who had interrupted programming to show off their Mega-Bow-Down-To-The-Power-Super-Doppler-Radars.

They were actively advising us to "go to the basement or to an interior room, away from from all windows."

Our children would be huddled in a corner of the basement with a mattress thrown over their heads while we were pulling our cars into the garage to avoid hail damage, then standing out in the driveway waiting for something exciting to happen.

So, I guess that it isn't surprising that we would bring the same mentality with us to Florida. We pay freakishly close attention to every little wave that comes off the west coast of Africa.

I thought back to my two week stay in Orlando when Charley blew through in 2004. I actually had a "holy shizzle, I could die" thought come over me at one point.

My brother had the exact same thought as he listened, in the dark, to the falling trees in his yard . He had the unfortunate disadvantage of living on the northeast side of Charley's eye; my parents lived on the northwest side which was an entirely different situation to be in.

The worst that we experienced at my parents' was that we couldn't find an open restaurant for DAYS after the storm.

However, my brother's yard looked like a bomb had exploded and the interior of his house very quickly began to acquire a funky, rotting garbage smell as the power company feverishly labored to restore his electricity over the next week.

I was thinking back to that whole experience one day when I decided that we needed to be more prepared.

We live in the south now. We have to think about hurricanes.

(I guess that considering the state of world affairs right now, we must also worry about the countries with a proverbial screw loose who could very easily frack life up for the rest of us.)

"We need to stock up on water," I announced one day to my husband. "And I think we should buy a gun." As I said, we live in the south now. When in Rome.

Chris could hardly contain his excitement.
"Really," he said eagerly.

"I think we should just have one, you know, just in case." His eyes were positively glistening with glee and he started to talk really fast.

"I could take the class and get a concealed weapon permit. What kind of gun were you thinking of? We should get a safe. I could take the boys to shoot. I should talk to Roger and Ingrid and get some advice," he announced.

He took a breath.

He was talking about his Uncle Roger and Aunt Ingrid who live on the southern edge of Orlando. If there ever was a disaster of epic proportions, I could very safely and accurately assume they would be well stocked with food, hand sanitizer AND ammunition.

I would also feel perfectly at ease with Ingrid ~ a kick-ass tough military chick/nurse ~ in charge.

I blinked.

"You're going to ask Roger for advice on shooting a gun," I giggled.

I was thinking specifically of his squirrel trap incident of earlier this year.

Roger had caught one of the many squirrels that were ravaging his garden and intended to eliminate it. He rounded up the nearest semi-automatic.

The squirrel must have been a wily little bugger, because five shots later, it was clinging to the top of the cage in the midst of a little squirrel coronary. It was still very much alive.

Ingrid, upon hearing the commotion, ventured outside to see where the gunshots were coming from. She found her husband, gun in hand, standing over one freaked out squirrel.
She took the gun and put a bullet between the squirrel's eyes on the very first shot.

As we made our way down the beverage aisle of Super Target, we realized that we were not the first to suggest stocking up on water. All that was left of the drinking water was some very badly damaged gallons and some 24-bottle-value packs.

We scrounged together what we could then wandered to the canned soup aisle, where I noticed that soup was now much more expensive than I had remembered. I bought several cans (we were on a budget) with the full realization that we would definitely not survive for an extended period of time.

I thought that perhaps I should do a little more research on how to be more prepared for natural and/or man-made disasters.

Since the boys have a thing for bottled water, the 24 packs didn't last very long. This was partially our fault, as we didn't hide it fast enough for it to go unnoticed.

The soup didn't last, either, as it was gobbled up by a perpetually ravenous 14-year-old.

I came to the conclusion that we suck at disaster preparedness and hurricane readiness.

There is a gun show in our area next week as advertised on t.v. by a shotgun wielding George W. impersonator. I proposed taking the family and heading to the venue to do some research .

I was met by a disinterested look from the husband who was attempting to beat his personal best on Doodle Jump.

We definitely will be the first ones to die of thirst, hunger, and/or pillaging.

Of this I am certain.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

H1N1 Part Two and Psychotic Elderly People in Motorized Scooters

"So let me get this straight," Chris said.

"You were at a red light, and an old man in a scooter ran into your car."

"Yes," I said.

"A handicap person. Like that kind of scooter?"


"And you sent a handicapped, old man to jail and pressed charges," he continued.

"I did."

"You're totally screwing with me," he said. "You're making this up."

I wasn't making it up, but I will explain later.
My whole day has turned into what I would confidently refer to as a "cluster-foogaysie."

It started off promising.
The boys and Chris had gone up to Tallahassee the night before and were at the Florida State vs. South Florida game.

Although baby M had woken up with a fever this morning, it was low-grade . She was content to sit by me as we watched "New In Town" with Renee Zellweger (of whom I have decided that I don't particularly care for ~ if I have to watch any more squinting or mouth puckering I think I will vomit).

We finally received our "Your Baby Can Read" package in the mail, so I excitedly tore into the kit and began the first video. Being quite lethargic from her fever, she was quite receptive.

It was at this point, I began to get a uneasy feeling that perhaps I should take her to urgent care. I would explain that, although I am not one of those neurotic mothers who takes her baby to the doctor at the slightest hiccup, I was more concerned about this fever because her brother had just recovered from the swine flu.

The tests were done and she was a positive.

"She lit right up," announced the doctor who looked a tad like Santa Claus. He charged back into the room fifteen minutes after the insanely long q-tip was shoved up her nose (she had to have this done TWICE because she flailed so much the first time, she knocked the q-tip out of the nurses hand, and it had landed on the floor).

"It wasn't a slow positive, like some are," he explained.
"So, I am usually hesitant to put kids this young on Tamiflu, but I think that I am going to prescribe it for you, anyway. You can talk about the side effects with the pharmacist and decide for yourself whether it is something that you want to give her," he said.

Quite encouraging, really.

Flustered, I drove the Walgreen's pharmacy and argued with the snippy girl at the window who informed me that my insurance card was "useless," because it had no information on it.

No one else had had issue with it before, and we had been with this particular insurance company since May 1.

I pulled up to a red light after a quick visit to the grocery store for juice, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

As I rolled to a stop, I glanced over at a little man in a scooter who had begun to cross the street. I instantly noticed that I was a little farther out in the crosswalk than I should have been.

I waved my hand and nodded in a manner of contrition that had, sufficiently (or so I thought), indicated that I was, indeed sorry.

It was at that moment that I realized that he had flipped me off.


He made a rude gesture and screamed something at me that sounded a bit like "f**ing a**hole."
I checked again; I wasn't THAT far out into the crosswalk.

There was a sound of impact and I realized that he had ran into the front of my car.

"Oh, my God!" I shrieked as I hopped out of my car.

I drive a 11 year old SUV and don't care about what it looks like, but this poor guy had ran into my car with his scooter and I felt horrible. I wanted to make sure he was all right.

It was at that moment that I realized he was swearing at me. I mean, like, REALLY cussing me out.

It was a dialogue full of f-yous, a-words, bastards, b-words, you name it.
I was in shock. "Are you all right," I asked, stupidly.

More obscenities.

"It is not necessary to use that language, really," I squeaked.

I realize that I had never, ever been spoken to this way. Except, perhaps, by an ex boyfriend who although it took me several months, I managed to dump and move far, far away from.

I used the time with him as a important life lesson.

More obscenities.

At a loss, I tried to be the bigger person, "Well then, God bless you," I said, ridiculously.

"F*** you, b***h," said the man in the scooter, holding my license plate holder and sporting military gear and American Flags. I think I heard a Neil Diamond song coming from the boom box in this little basket.

" Fine, you know what? I'm calling the police," I said. Let them deal with this nut, I thought.

I answered all of the questions the 911 operator shot at me.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "We know
exactly who you are talking about," he told me as I described the man in the scooter. I turned around to describe him.

He had already crossed the intersection and was scooting along the boulevard north at a surprisingly speedy clip.

After much roundabout pf "should I's, or shouldn't I's" with the responding officer, I decided to press charges.

The deputy rolled his eyes when I explained what happened.
"He has your license plate holder," he said after he got off of his radio. "He keeps that sort of things as a souvenir. He does this all the time," he explained.

In the meantime, I had called a friend of mine in town, since the boys were still on their way home from Tallahassee. She had shown up almost instantly at the scene.

She nodded as she listened to the police officer. "I've seen him before," she exclaimed.

"I know
EXACTLY who you are talking about. I saw him pound on the hood of some one's car once," she noted. "He looked completely insane."

Historically, I have had a very, very limited contact with the police. However, I understood what was described as a "public nuisance."

I filed charges with the full intention of dropping them in the near weeks ahead, because, really. I am too lazy to follow through and don't want to go to court.

After I filled out the police report, I stopped to pick up the baby's prescription.
"Does it need to be refrigerated," I asked the snippy girl at the window.

"No, they are capsules."

What the eff. Seriously?

"She's seventeen months old. She can't take capsules."

"Oh, I'm sorry. We don't have any liquid available," she said to me.

I was banging my head on the steering wheel.

"Really," I asked, thinking back to the difficulty we had filling Wes' prescription two weeks ago. I should have known; it had been too easy.

"I'll be back in the morning. Figure it out," I said. Upon receiving a positive nod, I sped off, keeping a closer eye out for crazy men in motorized wheelchairs.

"Do you want that double bagged," asked the Middle Eastern woman at the counter of the liquor store.

"No, it's okay. Really," I said as I cradled my big-sized bottle of cheap wine, and walked out of door.

"Just hold the bottom," she warned,

"I wouldn't want my cheap wine breaking," I laughed as I continued out the door.

I imagined the $7.00 bottle of desperation and frustration breaking into a zillion pieces in the parking lot of Publix.

It has been one of those days.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pavlov and An Unsually Productive Day

I was possessed by an unusual burst of productivity this morning.

Since this almost never happens, I recognized the necessity of "striking while the iron is hot. " I felt an urgency of acting on it, bordering on manic, before it dissipated into my usual tendency of wanting to take a nap.

The nap, for the most part wins out because ~ I'll go ahead and admit this ~ I am weak.

I got dressed and decided to walk Wes to the bus stop out of guilt for swatting his rear end his morning.

The swat occurred after four visits to his room and five requests to get out of bed (although the decibel of each "request" grew notably louder at each visit ). Also, the rump was protruding in such a way from his blankets that made it
irresistible ~ I couldn't help but smack it. He laughed at me, but I suspect he realized just how serious I really was.

After the bus left, I strolled around the neighborhood with a motley assortment of other parents. I received a very good, detailed lesson on carpenter ants and termites from a chatty
Puerto Rican. "You trow a peec of wud in ze treez. Two weeks latah, is gone. Gone! Ze termites eat it all!"

She instructed me to go home and look termites up on the

"Why would she do that,
Este," a father said as he carried his separation anxiety ridden daughter of about three. The crying had started when her sister disappeared onto the bus and continued 1/4 mile down the street. It didn't seem to be letting up; I wonder if this happened every morning.

"You've already told her everything she would possibly, ever need to know about termites,

I decided to cruise by the lot on which our house is going to be built. Here is a better picture of what it is going to look like. There are going to be more trees around it and the color of the brick and shakes are different (as it is going to be in the Craftsman style), but you get the idea ~ at least it isn't a sketch:

We also found out that they are going to add ceramic tile to the dining room, free of charge. I had originally assumed that this area was going to tiled anyway, but as we went over the details at the model home on Tuesday it was indicated as "carpet" on the drawings.

I was immediately filled with anxiety as I thought about a carpeted dining area. I protested slightly, to which the agent suggested we could always buy an outdoor area rug that could be hosed off and vacuumed to be kept clean.

It seemed to make sense, but I wondered how often, honestly, this "hosing off" event would occur. It seemed like an awful lot of work ~ lifting the table up, moving the chairs. If something required that much effort, in our house, it would never, ever be done.

The anxiety festered. It began to ooze when I swept and mopped the floor yesterday morning and noted how gross and dirty they were. I had mopped only one week before! Fester and ooze.

I thought perhaps I should take a half of a
Xanax; instead I called Chris.

"We have to do something about that carpeted dining area," I said, pleadingly. "You need to call them and bring it up, because I think it could drive me completely insane." Understatement of the year. I would obsess and fret about it until I had an attack.

Chris is the designated phone caller in our house because I have an aversion to the telephone. I don't know where this came from, but I suspect it had something to do with being a receptionist for a short time after high school in an insurance office.

Each time I picked up the phone, I was verbally abused by a pissed off customer. I was like Pavlov's dog receiving a shock (or however that whole experiment went - it has been a while since psychology) when it went for a treat. Before long, I was conditioned to practically weep when the phone rang. I was broken; therefore I quit.

I do own a cell phone that rarely rings, except when Chris calls me. E-mail is the preferred means of communication for me.

Chris took care of the tile and told the agent (most likely in a brow-beaten tone) that we would pay whatever difference was needed to accomplish this tile/carpet change-out.

The agent responded last evening in a message that informed us that there would be no charge.

I immediately became easier to live with, so relieved was I to receive such wonderful news. We decided that they either, 1.) really need the business, or 2.) really like us. I would like to believe the latter because we are, truly, delightful people.

The stress was quickly replaced by other issues, one being the yard. I mowed what I could this morning in my burst of energy. Yet the jungle in the next lot is aggressively taking over, and I refuse to weed-whack for fear of what could jump out at me (or crawl on me).

SO, as my burst of productivity is winding down, I put the baby down for her morning nap and am contemplating one of my own.

My heart is bursting with happiness because it is lunchtime. But now that I think of it, there is
nothing to eat in this house.

Perhaps I should have used my productivity differently.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gigi and The Amazing Twitching Cat

We have been house hunting.

It has been a while since we have done this ~ the last time was about six years ago. After months of scouring what was available in Des Moines, inspecting dust bunnies and snooping in closets, we threw in the towel and opted to build a new house.

Six years later the scenario is similar, except that the houses we looked at have palm trees in the yards, have "lanais" instead of "decks," and the exteriors are prominently stucco. The only house that truly interested us sold before we had an opportunity to put an offer in.

After days of searching, we were brow beaten by baby M, who screamed each time we put her in her car seat, and my father who joined us yesterday (whose overall contribution to the search was in the form of disapproving noises from the backseat).

The first house we looked at had a cat. "Don't let the cat out," warned a hand-written note on a table next to the front door. We can understand this sentiment as historically our animals, if given a chance, would happily flee our care.

We were approached, then regarded with what appeared to be disdain, by a giant cat.

Baby M loves cats and she spends hours a day pouring through her animal board books and meowing to herself. The presence of the cat filled M with an unrestrained glee that only a sixteen month old can exude. The squeal that escaped M's mouth greatly startled the cat and our intrusion into its home was off to a bad start.

The general confusion of the cat was combined with its natural curiosity so it stayed fairly close and observed us warily as we went from room to room. "Who are these losers," it seemed to be thinking. "Why are they in my home? And what is wrong with the small one that keeps tensing up, shaking and making such horrible sounds?"

Under normal circumstances, it appeared as it would have been a friendly animal; however, M's screams were causing its left eye to twitch and subsequent fits of hissing.

I wanted to scribble my own message on the note left to us by the homeowner. "There are worse things that can happen to your cat than having it let out. It could come into contact with a deranged sixteen month old and require kitty therapy for the next six months."

As we entered the next house, we were surprised to encounter the current owner of the house and her yippy dog.

"Gigi-poo," stop barking! Yip yip, yip yip yip.

The owner pleaded with the small Bichon Frise. "No, no, Gigi-poo!"

Yip yip yip, yip yip.

"Gigi-poo, no!"

We were unable to concentrate or comment on the house to each other and, needless to say, we were "Gigi-poo'd" out by the time we left. I don't even think I could tell you what the house looked like. It is all a big blur of "Gigi-poo's," oversize furniture and oriental decorating, circa 1991.

After visiting several more bombs, one of which sported a technicolor, wallpaper mural of the ocean in the dining room (the leftovers of which were used to decoupage the front of the refrigerator), building our own home to our specifications appeared to be a very attractive option.

Chris dragged me into the office of a new home builder. One hour later we left, stunned and deeply in debt, with the plans for a house in one hand and the appointment card to pick out colors, flooring and kitchen cabinets in the other.

We are building in our current neighborhood in which we are living on a month-by-month lease. After moving here, we were overwhelmed with the friendliness of our neighbors and were hesitant to leave such a good thing.

We didn't meet the majority of our street mates in Iowa until we were about to move. We thought that perhaps it was us ~ that we put off an aloof affect that discouraged interaction. But our neighbors in Florida were knocking on our door the first day we moved in.

The entire process of building a home takes five months and it is close enough that we will be able to track the process on a daily basis. We are excited about the possibility but are also overwhelmed ~ Chris by our peon furniture that will hardly fill the 2,700 square feet home and me by the overwhelming window treatment implications for a house that large.

We are confident we made the right decision and are looking forward to be the future as owners of a five bedroom (FIVE!!) brick house with a lanai in the back yard and a palm tree of our very own in the front yard.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Saga of Irresponsible Pet Ownership and Cairn Terriers

There was an extreme amount of commotion coming from the bedroom last night.

I was tidying up in the kitchen and putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I may be a filthy wench at heart, but in my day to day life, I am trying ~ trying ~to keep things picked up and cleaner.

The bug situation creeped me out a little bit and those ants are relentless. We have virtually emptied an entire bottle of Terro in the past week, and although I have not seen a live ant in about 48 hours, I don' trust those buggers. They are the insect equivalent of the Blade movies ~ they keep coming back, over and over and over.

Also, what is really helpful in the evenings is, before allowing the children to eat their dinner, I order them to clean. Withholding food has been, by far, the most effective manipulative tool in getting them to do what I want.

Anywho, the commotion sounded something like this:

"Get it! AHHHH!!!!" (Garbled growling, banging.)

"Grrrrrr! It's bad! Sic 'em! AHHHHH!!!!!" (Viscious growling, banging, ripping. Banging.)

"Grrrrrr! Good boy! Get it, get it! AHHHHHH!!!!! (More growling, ripping sounds, some laughing. Banging. Pant, pant, pant.)

The house we currently live in is set up in which the children have their own "wing" and the master bedroom is on the opposite side of the house. So generally, what goes on in the master bedroom can't be heard by the children.

This raucousness, though, I wasn't sure. Although I was afraid to intervene, I decided I must. I was not feeling like consoling a rudely awakened 16-month old.

"What's going on in here," I demanded as I stormed in.

It was as I had feared.

An empty case of Pepsi was strewn about in no less than one hundred little pieces.

"Hey, hey! You have to see this! Watch," Chris eagerly said.

He turned to a jazzed up and insane looking Sven.

"Get it! Get it, sic 'em," he taunted.

Sven, crazed, lunged for the nearest largish piece of cardboard and viciously attacked it, throwing it to and fro with a ferocity in which he would use to break the neck of a squirrel or a rabbit.

This squirrel or rabbit thing is theoretical, because I am fairly certain he wouldn't have a clue what to do with a critter like that if he managed to score one. But you never know ~ Cairn Terriers were bred to scavenge small rodents out of the stone fences (the cairns) and burrows in Scotland.

Scotland, where they apparently speak English, Gaelic and Scots.

The scenario for Sven if he managed to escape, sadly(now that we live in Florida), is quite bleak. He would undoubtedly be overwhelmed by curiosity about those creepy eyes peeking out from the water in the canal behind our house. Upon further investigation, he would quickly become a satisfying meal for the alligators.

Sven is an escape artist. We believe that this mad skill was how he became a temporary resident of the St. Paul Humane Society in Minneosota.

We were already the irresponsible owners of two large cats, a cockatiel and a rowdy five year old, all crammed into a 600 square foot apartment in the St. Anthony Park area of St. Paul.

I was cumbersome and pregnant; Chris was working on his master's degree and waiting tables at the local Red Lobster. He came home smelling of seafood every night with a stack of ones and a belly full of coconut shrimp.

To me, our cats were a joy.

They played and frolicked in our tiny bathtub and provided endless hours of entertainment for me during the day. And because I was pregnant, I could use the "I'm pregnant, so I can't empty the litter box" excuse. Therefore, the burden of caring for the cats became Chris'. He was bitter about it.

Nevertheless, we would still use our video camera to film our cats, Happy and Flipper, doing cute things. Our entire video library from 2000-2001 is that of Animals Being Cute which is only truly entertaining to the owners of the animals (and very small children).

What wasn't a joy was our cockatiel. We bought "Madison" on a whim right before we were married, because we read that cockatiels were delightful birds that could be trained to sing, sit on your shoulder and be great companions.

Perhaps this is so for other birds, but there was something wrong with Madison.

I am not sure if it was something that we did, or if it was an unfortunate character flaw. But when we brought Madison home and put him in his cage, he paced the bottom of it for two weeks.

We read that a transition period could be possible so we remained patient. We bought him treats, toys, mirrors and tried to teach him how to "step up" on our finger. He eventually succeeded in this little feat, but to let us know his displeasure each time he performed it, he would do his damnedest to draw blood.

It was a "transition period" in which he never recovered and he became neurotic. It became worse when we acquired the two cats, the first coming from a farm owned by an ex-boyfriend's parents. To the dismay of the bird, "Happy" the cat already had ingrained hunting instincts.

The second cat came from a veterinarian's office who just happened to be a distant relative of mine, as well as an active member of the church where Chris interned. When Chris took "Happy" in for his shots, he was bamboozled into taking this second cat, "Flipper," home.

"One more cat is no problem," the vet/distant cousin said. "They'll keep each other entertained. Really, it's no more work."

What Chris failed to mention was that we were living in an apartment building that didn't allow pets, so we were technically breaking the rules by even having the bird. We were having to snuggle animal paraphernalia in and out of the building and lived in fear of being discovered.

Later that summer after we were married, we moved our belongings and animals up to Minnesota ~ to the 600 square foot apartment. Obviously, it was busting at the seams.

So why the hell would we not add one more animal to the mix (and later in the spring, a baby)?

We adopted Sven, a one year old terrier mix, in the fall of 2000. We promised the kind Humane Society folks we would care for him, feed him and give him a good home. We signed papers, bought a leash and a collar (purple for the Vikings) and took back to the tiny apartment.

The cats were confused and the bird was beside himself. He acquired a screeching that made me wonder how much it would actually hurt him to let him go in the -20 degree weather in the dead of the winter in Minnesota.

My mother-in-law took pity on the bird when she visited from Orange County, California. She bought a plastic shoebox from Target, punched holes in the top and took him back to California with her in the airplane. He lived happily for a little while. She renamed him "Biff" and he began to sing a tune that sounded a bit like the "Adam's Family" theme song.

She eventually moved from Irvine to Des Moines to be nearer to us. The move put him over the edge. Biff/Madison's end came in the form of a six year old who opened the door to the house and (being overdue for his scheduled wing clipping appointment) Biff used his aeronautical skills to exit the house into the cold Midwestern spring weather.

We did the obligatory calling of Biff's name, of which I am sure he observed, amused, as he sat on the perch of the nearest oak tree and thought, "Ha ha, eff you suckers! I'm free!"

That night when the temperature dropped to 15 degrees, Biff/Madison's tormented life was rudely extinguished.

We still feel badly about the whole situation. However, we used it as a life lesson and realized we are horrible bird owners. So, seven years later when our son asked whether he could get a parakeet, we confidently answered with a definitive, "Helllllllllz, no."

Sven turned into a delightful dog after the urinating on pillows stopped. There was also the issue of Chris' friend, Dan, who Sven would piss all over whenever he visited our apartment (which, quite understandably wasn't very often). He never did this to anyone else, however.

He's a very good dog and most importantly, he has always come back when has run away. He is the lone survivor of our brief pet ownership debacle of 2000-2002. The cats went to live on a farm when it was apparent that Wes had allergies. Biff flew away.

There was the whole "Norweigan Elkhound" cluster. Ole, the Elkhound, very quickly went to live with my sister-in-law. We like to keep irresponsible pet ownership within the family.

We are desperately trying to avoid the running away thing now. "Don't let him eat frogs," a Facebook friend of mine pleaded. "A friend of mine took her Yorkie to Florida and it ate a poisonous frog and died!"

Great. Now we have to worry about snakes, alligators AND frogs. Backing up to a canal, these are very real threats and we are being extra careful about not allowing him to run away.

He is almost 10 now and has slowed down only a wee bit. He sleeps a lot after a lot of exertion, such as tearing apart a box or chasing shadows and light reflections (which we think is funny, but is a serious psychological problem, according to Cesar Milan).

We would miss the little guy if he ever didn't come back. Which is why, if you ever visit, he will be leashed to the leg of the kitchen table.

It looks inhumane, but really, being eaten by an alligator, on the scale of "inhumane-ness," appears to fall in a slightly higher category. We do what we must.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Love Story and How to Snooker People into Believing you Know More than you Actually Do

The other evening, Nova Scotia came up in a conversation.

I'm not exactly sure how or why it came up, but I think it had something to with the movie we were watching at the time that starred Russell Crowe. The discussion that followed was a debate about what country he is from.

I said England, Chris said Ireland.

(Both answers were wrong, as I just learned on Wikipedia. He was born in New Zealand, then moved to Australia.)

Our conversations sometimes wander and wildly veer off course , so it probably should have been no surprise that this particular conversation ended up in Nova Scotia.

I also think that Chris is manipulative and is slowly trying to eek information about how little I know in life so he can mock me. It makes him feel smarter.

"Do know what Nova Scotia means," he asked.

It means something? Really? Actually, I thought it was just a city in Canada, but upon further research I did a this very moment, it is an entire province. When we took our honeymoon to New Brunswick, Chris had mentioned it would be fun to continue on to Nova Scotia. I just assumed he was talking about a city farther north.

"I don't know," I said. He was fishing, and I have to be in the mood to play along sometimes.

"Just think about it."

"New.....Scotland?" I asked. He nodded. "Why would it be named 'Nova Scotia,' then? Don't Scottish people speak English? Why didn't they just name it 'New Scotland?'"

"What language do they speak in Ireland," he prompted. Dammit.

He was asking trick questions now; he found a gaping hole in my knowledge of this particular region.

"They speak English, Chris," I said.

I knew this for a fact because in my Great Couch Potato Episode of 2004 (that had a great deal with not being properly medicated), I exhausted the American market of available DVD's. Therefore, I had to move on to the foreign film genre among which included several Irish films. I recall needing to listen a lot closer and having to look several words up online, but generally there no subtitles. Also, Bono is Irish and requires no translator.

"But what language did they historically speak," he asked. Did he think he was doing me a favor by proving I was an idiot?

"Now, how the hell would I know that?"

"Celtic," he said proudly. "They spoke Celtic."

I guess I did know that.

I had never promised him that I was a Rhodes Scholar, let alone the brightest bulb in the bunch. I never said ~ uh, you know what?

I think I did hint that I was one hum-dinger of a smart cookie in my personal ad I posted on American Online ad that he read and ultimately responded to.

The whole "smart girl" claim, as erroneous as it might have been, was a challenge to him, especially after all of the "I like long walks on the beach," and "I like long romantic dinners" statements he mocked before he got to mine.

It was 1998 and I had decided to place a personal ad online upon the encouragement of a college friend.

"Yeah, go ahead and do that," she said, pretending to be supportive but in her mind I know she was thinking, "What a loser. Let me know how that works out!"

I had nothing to lose, really. I had recently been dumped, and very likely cheated on at the end of the relationship. Needless to say, I was fresh off of the "I-am-so-devastated-I-can't-eat-so-I-have-just-lost-twenty-five-pounds-yippee" diet.

I was ready to get on with it and put myself back in the market, fabulous new body and all.

I bought a scanner (back in the day, you know), filled out the personal and uploaded a flattering picture .

I received several interesting queries, including one from a pastor in his internship in West Des Moines. The irony being that my entire family was pastors: mother, father AND brother.

The comment I shrieked at my mother in the throes of my teenage rage, "I would rather DIE a horrible, painful death before I ever, EVER, marry a preacher," was quickly forgotten. Instead, I thought, "What they hey. I'll give a pastor a gander."

We had our first date, and although he was nice, I made the decision somewhere during dessert that I would "look a little further."

He talked too much. That, and he had a personalized license plate that said "Viking7" and a Denver Broncos and Wisconsin Badger and a Sigma Phi Epsilon sticker in each corner of the rear window of his Ford Escort.

There was a question of taste that was a little off, if you know what I mean, no matter WHAT team you were rooting for.

However, as he walked me out to my ancient Toyota Camry that evening, he held the door open for me and I slid into the driver seat. "I hope he doesn't kiss me," I thought as I got into my car. He didn't; instead, he gave me a nice hug and asked me when we would see each other again.

I wasn't really anticipating that particular question. I thought he would say "I'll give you a call," to which I would reply, "That sounds great!"

I would then avoid his phone calls until he gave up and stopped trying. But this "When can we see each other again" question threw a wrench in my plot. That, and he was holding open my door. I was trapped.

I felt a little warm as I began to sweat. "Um. I'm free on Wednesday?"

He beamed. "Wednesday it is." He let go of my door so I could shut it.

He grew on me. His chatter became comforting, instead of annoying, and we realized that we genuinely liked to be together. Our relationship became a comforting solace in which I could be myself, as neurotic and weird as that may be.

We were married a short time later. Probably too soon, in all honesty. Too soon for him to realize that the person he married is kind of shallow, has a serious weight problem and other psychological issues.

I bet he never, ever dreamed that ten years later he would be explaining that the Scots settled Nova Scotia, that "No, Hong Kong is not in Japan," and that Lebanon is not in South America to his wife .

I believe he genuinely thought that he would end up with another Smart Person, not just one with a decent grasp of the English language. A language that can be easily manipulated to sound as if she knows more than she actually does. It is a trick, in my opinion, most journalists use.

"Just use big words," they say to each other. "The general public must to be spoken to as if they are pre-pubescent idiots, anyway, so just use some obscure names and places, preferably Middle Eastern, and they will never, ever know that we don't know what the hell we are talking about."

He loves me anyways, though. And if not, he is stuck with me...weight problem, psychological issues and all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Doodle Jump and Monetary Leaps of Faith

We currently have one car.

This is because, while sitting in the drive-through at Wendy's last week waiting to order his daily salad (not), someone tore out of a parking space with nary a glance. Chris' world was rocked, by a rude and unexpected jolt, to the tune of $742.16.

In lieu of the rental car while the car was being fixed, we decided to take the cash. Because what the hell do I do anyway during the day that I would need a car for? I generally don't even leave the house most days, especially since my exercise hiatus has been extended another week.

I mainly sit on the couch and play Doodle Jump on my Ipod Touch and marvel in the technology that allows me to actually check my e-mail and update my Facebook/Twitter statuses without even having to move. It is a beautiful thing. It really is.

We'll allow ourselves to be inconvenienced; it's not much of a sacrifice, really, so I hope it proves to be easy money.

Speaking of money, though, today was payday. For those of you who keep up with my lame-ass life you will recall that on our last payday I almost had a stroke.

I say that somewhat in jest, but I do have high blood pressure and I very well could have stroked out by the events of two weeks ago. Suntrust would surely have been held accountable and we would have become very rich because of their direct hand in causing this catastrophe.

But with our luck, I could have been paralyzed and Chris would have had to change my diapers. Albeit rich, our quality of life would suck.

Now that I think of it, though, I don't think Chris loves me enough to change my diapers. I would probably be fast-tracked into an el cheapo nursing home where they rinse and reuse catheters instead of buying new and I would live the rest of my days with my name written on all the tags of my clothing in permanent marker.

Today we wised up and decided that he would take the pay check directly to the branch vice-president instead of relying on a peon in the drive-through window. We aren't certain which peon caused our grief last time , but if I ever find out who it was, I vow I will kick her ass.

This "flagging" of our last paycheck resulted in a big, bad seven-day "HOLD" on our deposit. This predicament nearly screwed our credit, reputation and finances for the next several months.

I think we were spoiled by our local bank in Iowa. We would breeze through the drive-through every several weeks with a deposit. The familiar faces would smile at us brightly, and ask, "Do you need a receipt?" We would wave our hands and say "no, that's okay." Because we KNEW that the check would be handled competently; we had no reason to worry.

The kind teller would then, with a radiant smile on her face, send out several suckers for our children and a dog biscuit for our Cairn Terrier.

(Our Cairn Terrier, Sven, always looks abused and evokes pity in people. He gets treats a lot when we are out in public with him. I promise, we have never touched him on purpose...we just trip over him a lot. I don't know why his affect is that of an abused animal.)

So, I am sure it was with much bitterness that Chris marched into the Suntrust branch today in search of Someone With Authority. I bet he was really pissed that he actually had to get out of his car.

In general, we are annoyed when we have to "get out of the car" to run errands such as picking up prescriptions, making bank deposits and ordering lattes at Starbucks. Drive throughs have spoiled us; how did we EVER get along before them?

Even though he handed his hard-earned money over to someone with a title after her name I am not confident in this transaction at all.

"Honey," Chris said tentatively said when he called on his way from the bank. The tone was a little off and, knowing where he just came from, it produced a twinge of panic in me.

"Did you take the check to ______," I asked. I envisioned her, upon seeing Chris come through the door, running to hide in the nearest utility closet where he couldn't find her. The last time he visited, it didn't go well for her.

"I did, yes."

"Well, then, what's the problem?"

"She did this when she gave me the deposit slip."

He was home at this point, so he gave a little demonstration in which he tightly crossed his fingers ( as in "good luck") and raised them up to his ears, wiggling them hopefully. It was a gesture one would do to another when one was up to bat during a softball game, getting up to sing "Hotel California" at a karaoke bar or attempting a spiral perm for the first time.

"Shut up, you're kidding."

He assured me he was not.

This is a gesture one does not want to see when they hand over a paycheck to a financial institution. A confident "We'll take care of this! No worries!" would have been ideal. "I'll do my best to ensure this gets to the right place," would have been okay. But a good luck sign?

I think I will be praying extra hard tonight. If things don't go well, this very well could be the event that puts me over the edge.

I will be playing Doodle Jump and Yahtzee on my Ipod Touch for a great long while in the long-term care facility where Chris dumped my shriveled body. Hopefully the place won't be too cheap to have a wireless internet connection so I can update my Facebook and Twitter status when the nurses come and change my position in bed, because that will be the extent of my action.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Food Throwing and Sassy Little Girls

On my way into the kitchen this afternoon, our Cairn Terrier walked by me with a minimum of five tortilla chips on his back.

He had an abused and defeated look in his eyes that comes with the torment of being able to SMELL food and knowing that it is SO close; yet his brain (which is probably the size of a small tomato) couldn't comprehend where the smell was coming from.

The culprit was a no brainer ~ baby M is a notorious food flinger. Food has not been flung in this house since...well, probably never. None of our other kids threw food. The boys were all well behaved little cherubs at the dinner table.

Baby M happily throws food just to watch where it goes: on walls, on the dog, on her brothers. It fills her with a glee that is a little worrisome, considering her Aunt Margit threw phones, books and other objects at her brother from a very young age and quite possibly wounded him once or twice while doing so.

I won't even get into the spitting thing that has begun to occur as of late. We are currently only giving her water because the implications of spitting other liquids in the house are too much for us to handle.

Alas, the "Laws Concerning Food and Drink" are not being followed by this little girl.

Allow me to insert a picture of how she normally looks and we'll discuss:

Her hair is usually in her eyes because she will rip out and eat whatever little barrette or clip I try to use to hold it back.

It was my intention to grow her bangs out to achieve a page boy hair cut, like the adorable little Swedish girls who grace the copies of the Hanna Andersson catalogs I receive. The unwillingness to cooperate with the barrettes (hats, sunglasses, sometimes clothing and diapers, too) is unfortunately throwing a wrench into my long term hair goal. I am being challenged to reconsider.

Allow me to add that the above picture was taken over a month ago and the hair is even longer now. I am being harassed to cut her bangs because, according to my mother, she will go cross-eyed.

Notice, if you will, the crazed look in her eyes. She has this look quite often and if I am perfectly honest, it bothers me. Because, come on ~ consider the source.

There is a bit of a screw loose on my side of the family and I can't help to be concerned about her mental well-being, especially when hormones kick in around 12 or 13. That should be the time I am going through the first stages of menopause. The boys, mercifully, will be in college and tending to their own lives away from home. Chris will be the one who suffers. I already feel a little bad about this.

She yells at us quite often with this look on her face. Sometimes it is accompanied with teeth grinding (hers) and shaking. Although we can't understand a word of it, we aren't completely ignorant about the body language and I'm sure she isn't telling us how much we rock as parents.

We need to brush up on our parenting-of-toddlers skills.

Perhaps I should subscribe to a parenting publication that will help me out, but honestly, I can't stand parenting magazines. I find them obnoxious. Well...I FOUND them obnoxious. Now, I wonder if they would not be little nuggets of helpful information in raising this anomaly, er, daughter.

Although I am getting a little old for it, we have always considered the possibility of adding another baby to the clan; however a non-elevated blood pressure is still greatly dependent upon the pills I take every morning at precisely 9:30am.

For this reason we will do no such thing in the near future. Also, Chris shared something with me the other day. "I always thought that I would want another one," he confided. "But now after seeing M's personality, I'm not so sure."

She is making us tired. The food, toy, remote control and Ipod throwing is wearing on us a little bit.

Perhaps it is a phase, or perhaps this is her personality: strong willed, independent and opinionated.

I guess that wouldn't be a bad thing, but we will need to learn how to raise a strong girl in this day in age, which is ultimately what scares the shizzle out of me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Adult Diapers and Parenting Fails

This is the favorite subject of ridicule du jour in our household.

Don't want to click on the link? That's all right, I'll summarize.

An el sicko, of which there are a great many in Florida, was arrested the other day on fraud charges. He pretended to be retarded so home health care workers (who just happened to be all women) would come into his house and change his diapers.

It was fraud because he promised to pay them upwards of $2,000 to do so. This would be a red flag (for me at least) because I am not sure what home health workers are paid but I am pretty certain it is not $2,000 for changing someone's sh**y pants.

Predictibly, none of them saw the money.

I am curious as to how this adult baby thing happens. I sincerely don't want to screw my kids up in a way that will leave them with a socially unacceptable fetish like wanting their diapers changed when they are grown men. Truly.

Feet? I would be okay if they were feet guys. Hair? Hair would be all right, as long as they weren't creepers about it and smelling unsuspecting women's hair in public places. Hey, I'm sure it happens.

Everyone has their "thing." I just hope that their "thing" doesn't lead them to a place in life where they are drooling on a bed, a fresh load in their Depends and a bamboozled nurse standing above them with wipes and talcum powder.

As a mother, that scenario would be the ultimate parenting "fail."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

H1N1 and Button Pushing Extravaganzas

I'm taking a short break from cleaning.

Chris decided to lay the smack down about the dirtiness of the house. I think it was the ants. Apparently one can't leave food out for an extended period of time in the south. This happened once before, several weeks ago, and we sprayed. Problem solved, right? It appears, however, that in Florida, ants can be a recurring problem. Huh. Who would have known?

The smack down occurred yesterday after I made a run to the grocery store and came home to find him cleaning up the kitchen. Himself. I know that you are thinking, "Wow, what a great guy!"

But really, he only does this sort of thing when he can't stand it anymore and feels that it would be patronizing to ask me to clean. In a way, it is sort of nice to come home to find your husband cleaning up the dinner from the night before. But his silence is a judgment. I felt an inkling of shame before I went and laid down on the couch to watch television.

So, today I have been cleaning up and I'm fixing to scrub the floors. With bleach. And spray disinfectant on every single surface because our 8 year old was diagnosed with Influenza A last night.

The diagnosis was done via a freakishly long q-tip shoved up his nose. He asked me what it was going to feel like, to which I replied, "It will tickle. You'll probably just sneeze."

I think he is still a little bitter that not only did it not tickle, it stung like a Mo-Fo. He sobbed for quite a while afterwards and cried that he would have rather had a shot. I used to shove things up my nose all the time when I was little and I always remember them tickling; apparently diagnosing the flu is a bit different. Huh.

So, I'm 99.9% sure that every one in the house has been exposed because the following scenario is generally what happens when Wesley coughs:

Wesley coughs without covering his mouth. It is usually on or near some common surface area in our house such as the dining room table, the remote control or the kitchen sink.

"Wes," I yell. "Gross. Seriously, cover your mouth," I say. It pisses me off because I'm sure he is the model of perfection at school and coughs in a tissue or on his sleeve at school, but the moment he walks in the door of the house all rules are out the window and he turns into a slob.

He looks at me, turns his head and coughs again. With more force than before and this time, directly on on a common area surface.

He does this because I am certain that he has worked out the exact ratio of probability in his mind about whether or not I will actually hit him. He knows it is likely that I won't. When I do it is because I have been pushed beyond the limits that any sane person can possibly be pushed, and my sanity is something that is questionable if you ask any one who has been a part of my life for any extended amount of time.

You see, Wesley is a button pusher. It is an skill that he has perfected over the years of observing and dipping his toes in the water, so to speak.

He pushes Chris' buttons.

"Dad," Wesley says.

"What, Wes," Chris says.

"Who is your favorite Viking football player," he asks.

"Umm, probably Adrian Peterson."

Wesley ponders this.

"Dad," Wesley asks.

"What, Wes."

"Who is your favorite player from the Vikings who doesn't play for them anymore?"

"Cris Carter? I don't know," Chris says. "Probably Cris Carter."


"Dad," Wesley says.

There is an audible sigh from Chris.

"What, Wes."

"Who is your favorite Viking who doesn't play with them anymore, who was a quarterback and who used to play with another football team," Wesley asks.

And on and on it goes, because Wesley KNOWS that Chris can't NOT answer a question no matter how inane or how mind-numbing it is.

He pushes his 14-year-old brother's buttons.


"Leave me alone, Wes," he says in his jaded teenager voice.

He would punctuate this request with a flip of his Zac Efron-ish hair out of his eyes if he still had it. To his dismay, however, Junior ROTC required hair that is a little less whimsical (and greasy) than his former 'do. This was something he realized too late, i.e. after registration.


"I said, leave me alone."


"Shut up!"


"I'm going to hit you!"

Wes points his finger and puts it up to the side of Calvin's head.

"Wesley, stop it," Calvin yells.

"I'm not touching you."


It is at this point the yelling has alerted the inquiries of adults in the immediate vicinity.

"Calvin, stop the yelling, and Wesley, knock it off," I order. "Wesley isn't touching you. Chill out," I say.

"He is bothering me, though," Calvin yells.

"Just ignore him," I say.

"I can't ignore him, he's bothering me," he screeches, his 14-year-old voice pushed to the brink of its manhood and breaks into a squeek at the end.

And on and on it goes.

It is particularly dreadful in our current SUV which is lacking a third row seat. The third row seat option has moved from a "want" to a "need," as in "I need to maintain whatever shred of sanity I have left ~ which isn't much ~ or I'm going to FREAK. THE. FRACK. OUT. And abuse whoever is in my immediate vicinity at that unfortunate point in time."

So, Wesley is home. This H1N1 crap has reinforced what I already know: that I am grateful he goes to school every morning.

I will probably do the veritable drop-kick on Monday morning and sing the Doxology when he is well enough to go to class and observe the behaviors of others and learn how to push THEIR buttons.

But now, for me, it is back to cleaning and disinfecting.

Because of his constant contact with people, my husband has decided to take the next two days off and work from home to avoid the chance of contaminating others.

And he is looking a little bit like he is going to start cleaning the kitchen for me. Again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cluelessness and Ripping Crap Off

You may have noticed I changed my layout.

Certain blogs that I follow have the most adorable layouts and I tried to add one myself.

However, I am completely inept. I lost the picture (literally) on the top, the layout turned out nothing like the demonstration and now it just looks stupid.

I don't know how to change it back and it seemed like a bigger effort than I want to expend at this time. The morning pot of coffee has worn off and honestly, it makes me think too hard . Don't let my appearance of ambition fool you: there is a reason I stay at home, don't work and read only fiction books.

I'll just admit it ~ I didn't search too hard to find the the picture that I was using on the top of my blog because I'm pretty sure I was committing some sort of crime displaying it. I have a niggling feeling that the other pictures I use that come from "free" sites aren't really free.

I will probably be sued in the near future for some sort of copyright infringement lawsuit that is slapped on clueless people such as myself who don't know any better.

I have a call into a friend who knows about this sort of thing and I am hoping she will straighten things out soon.

Unrelaxing Pedicures and The Need for Attention

Last night in bed I attempted to read my book "Lost on Planet China." You know, to brush up on my geography knowledge because it is so vast and impressive.

What was affecting my concentration was my husband, who had decided he was starved for attention at that very moment.

The attention-getting tactics he employs are not unlike a deranged grade school boy who puts frogs in girls' hair.

"Rub my back," he requested. I was already settled in facing the opposite direction and did not want to move. I said no.

He moved well over into my space. The heat generated immediately made me sweat.

"Move over, jeez," I said. He wrapped a leg around mine and moved in closer. I could feel him looking at me, his face just millimeters away. I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was intently studying my face, something he knows makes me supremely uncomfortable.

"You know," he said, "your face is really very hairy."

"What," I shrieked, offended. There are no stray hairs coming from anywhere on my face. He succeeded, however, in getting my attention.

I am very sensitive about the state of my personal grooming.

It is something I should be taking more care in doing, I know, but at this point in my life I am performing the bare ass minimum. I brush my teeth and most of the time comb my hair.

Alas, the highlights in my hair are pretty much gone. Quite possibly for the first time in my life it is the natural color: dirty dishwater blond. Sad.

As are my toenails. The last pedicure is but a memory.

After a month or so of picking at the chipping polish, I was forced to go out and actually purchase fingernail polish remover to take the rest of it off. Minus the tortured polish the current situation isn't much better as I can't find the toenail clippers and there is some unsightly crud accumulating under the big toes.

I have just never been one to fastidiously take care of my feet. I wait until my heels and are cracked and catching on my bedsheets before I do something about them.

I have to be honest, my first pedicure scarred me. Actually both of the pedicures ~ I have had only TWO in my life (scandalous, isn't it?)~ have not been the best experiences for me.

The first one was performed shortly after the news stories were released about women who had contracted crazy-gross infections from pedicures. Graphic pictures were emblazoned on the screens of television sets across the central Iowa area. Horrified, I perked up and paid attention.

It was something about the water jets, improper cleaning of equipment and that little razor thing they use to shave off the excess skin on the feet.

Fear was incited within me, therefore, when the woman at my feet with the scars on her arms (I know, freaky right?) whipped out this tool and began using it on my heels.

My understanding of pedicures was that they are intended be relaxing and pampering, yet I couldn't get the pictures of gaping, oozing leg wounds out of my mind. So I sat, rigid and completely unrelaxed, gripping the arms of the chair until my fingernails turned white.

It also didn't help that my aestecian was quite unfriendly. I worried about what she thought of me, particularly after the moment she dug the gunk out from underneath my toenails, and with an undisguised look of utter disgust, she rolled her eyes at me.

I did a little blase little shrug, but what I really wanted to say was, "Back to work, wench. Why the hell did you think I came here in the first place?"

The second pedicure was earlier this summer. My mother and I traipsed up to the Walmart nail salon. Mistake number one. Nothing good comes from Walmart.

It was crazy busy and I urged my mother to reconsider. "Let's just go across the street," I begged, mindful of the time.

But she was driving and she parked herself in a chair to wait. I did the same. We were eventually summoned by the little man in a mask, and with the grand sweep of his hand we were shown to our seats. We sat with our feet soaking for the better part of an hour, waiting for someone to come to our aid.

The thing about my mother is that she can be quite mean. I don't like to be mean to other people. I mean, I yell at my husband and kids but I am generally a nice person in public.

My parents, however, have gotten to an age where they are greatly unappreciative of those individuals and companies who Waste Their Time and they aren't shy about making their displeasure known. It's a bit mortifying.

After the tongue lashing Mother gave to the girls who finally attended to us, I felt the need to be extra nice . The whole experience was a let down and I walked, rigid and tense, out the door. My toenails DID look pretty fantastic, though.

I wondered why I paid someone to do something I could theoretically do myself. At the very least, I could paint my toes. I have the PedEgg hidden away somewhere, so I could technically do the bare minimum requirements of a pedicure at home.

I love to have my feet rubbed, however, much to the dismay of my husband in the evenings when he is trying to play his online-geek-world-domination game. I plunk these beauties on his lap and ask him to rub them. He usually says "no." I honestly can't say I blame him.

What I really think would fix our need to be rubbed and massaged would be a couple's spa day, where we could spend the day together gazing into each others' eyes. We would tire of this fairly quickly, but our mutual need for foot and back rubs would be satisfied.

Therefore, he could sit on the couch without my feet in his face, and I could read in bed at night without him encroaching upon my personal space.

A winning solution for all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Twits and Tweets

I had to share this, because this guy is really freaking funny. If you don't like naughty language, don't go HERE. Very Archie Bunker-ish.

Just in case you are wondering, a friend shared this with me. A church friend. I'll defer to her if you are offended.



Unrefreshing Naps and Offensive Baby Books

I am feeling sluggish today. The most notable thing I have done is read to baby M.

Oh, and I took a nap. It wasn't a refreshing nap, however. It was one of those naps in which I didn't exactly feel as if I was sleeping, but I kept waking myself up when I started to snore. Therefore, I must have slept a short time, in a manner that must have been pretty sexy, too. I would have been irresistible to my husband if he came home to see me like this: sleeping in the middle of the day, drooling a little and continuously waking myself up with spontaneous snorts.

But back to the books.

Driven half mad by the monotony of the current book rotation that M currently had, I fled the house one day last week when troop reinforcements arrived (read: Cal came home from school). I was determined to find some new "favorite" books for her as I was going to slit my wrists if I read another Boobah book. (
Razzle dazzle shooting star, here come Boobahs from afar. Zipping zooming through the air, flying Boobahs EVERYWHERE!)

I headed to the children's consignment store a few miles away in search for some new reading fodder, where the board books that she likes to destroy so much are generally .25 or .50. I can buy a half a dozen for this price and my chances of having a winner in that bunch is greatly increased.

The one that she attached herself to immediately to was a small, portable board book with the "lift-off flaps" inside, most that have already been ripped off by its destructive former owner. It was called "Daddy Loves Me," and was filled with pictures of attentive, helpful fathers doing everyday things with their babies.

The idea of this book was nice, and there is a companion to it (also purchased) called "Mommy Loves Me." The mothers are also portrayed doing things for their babies: playing with the babies, reading to the babies, feeding the babies, kissing the babies. It is what mothers are expected to do; but the same actions in the "Daddy Loves Me" book seem like a bit more of a novelty. I don't know why.

For example, take the picture of the daddy feeding the baby in her high chair. It is a sweet little snapshot, but behind that picture is inevitably a mother who was mercilessly hounded with questions that led up to that Kodak moment.

"Where are the baby's spoons," he would ask. "What does the baby eat at this time of day," he would inquire. "What do you mix in the cereal? Is it warm? Cold? Can I microwave it? Where are the bowls? Does she need a drink, too? Where are the cups?" The mother must have been driven crazy by all of the questions leading up to that single moment. She was probably rocking back and forth in a corner, or at the very least, hiding in the shower. I just KNOW it.

Another page shows a baby of about a year and a half tossing a football with his father, the caption reading "Daddy plays with me." This is a very nice moment, also. The baby has socks and lace-up shoes on that must have required some effort to put on (no velcro in sight). But the little one is clad only in a diaper.

This game of catch clearly took place outside and I am sure that the weather was such that only a diaper was needed. Yet, the father was fully clothed, and I assume the mother was too, when she arrived home from wherever she was when these activities were taking place, whereupon she would flip out on the well-intentioned father. Because come least put a onsie on the kid.

This same father and baby duo was pictured in several places throughout the book, none in which the kid is wearing any clothes. Among their activities were, "Daddy helps me walk" and "Daddy reads to me." Mommy must have been shopping for quite a while.

The most disturbing picture in this book, however, was the one with the caption "Daddy cooks for me." A little boy is shown sitting on the floor of the kitchen playing with pots and pans and reaching for a cookie from his father. The father, smiling with a goofy pleased-as-punch look on his face, seems very proud of himself. He apparently is awaiting his gold star for the day.

This isn't the part I object to.

No, the part I have a beef with is that the father, wearing an oven mitt, is holding the cookie sheet directly next to the baby, where if the baby would happen to topple over he would most likely receive a nasty burn.

But, the piece de resistance in this entire cluster-foogaysie is that the oven door is still open directly behind the the baby. Surely, the mother was not there and didn't witness this because I'm sure if she saw it she would haved freaked. The. Crap. Out. Personally, I don't think I would have even been able to give my husband an "A" for effort for the cookies if I would have walked in at this very moment.

After reading this book to M, I want to give a mini-sermon on safety to her. I want to tell her, "No, it is not all right to go outside naked...even if Daddy says it is okay. In this day an age, there are too many weirdos. You just never know."

I want to use the book as lesson material for my two boys and husband: "Never, ever do this. You must move a baby far, far away before you open an oven door, and you certainly don't hold a hot cookie sheet in reach of a baby."

We have new reading material, but upon further investigation I have fundamental issues with the said material. This will inevitably drive me bananas, and I will once again flee the house in search for new, less offensive books again... sooner than I thought I would need to.

And so it goes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Flashback Friday: Chester Arthur and House Hunters International, Malta

I am afraid I am making my husband question his decision to marry me.

We were recently watching House Hunters International.  House Hunters International is a show that is particularly intriguing to us because, really, when will we ever shop for real estate outside this country? We might as well live vicariously through others.

The couple was Italian, apparently. I am not certain of this, but the woman's name seemed very Italian to me.

They were looking for a home on Malta in the "multi-million dollar budget"   range. This intrigued us even more as it is not very often that House Hunters participants have a multi-million dollar budget.

The people who generally participate are average, middle-class folks who are just trying to eek by.

 When I come across House Hunters that involve jet-setters and millions of dollars in their budget, I get sort of a sick voyeuristic curiosity that washes over me and I take notice.  .

The show also caught my attention because I wasn't sure exactly where Malta was.

 Geography has never been my strong suit.

(Addition: It hasn't gotten any better.  Three years later, I just realized that the Cayman Islands were WEST of Cuba.  I always had believed them to be somewhere East of Puerto Rico.  )

I mean, the last House Hunters International show I watched was in Panama. I could vaguely picture the Panama Canal, although I couldn't tell you much about the country itself, except it has strip of land that was highly contentious during the Carter administration.

Even more perplexing, though, was that the man-half of the couple mentioned that he had children in Belfast, and the Malta didn't look anything like I believed Belfast would look like.

I could tell by the architecture that Malta must be Mediterraean, though.

I considered the options: I could sit through the entire show and not know where the hell this House Hunters was filmed, or I ask my husband and risk him making fun of me.  

"Honey," I asked.

"What," he said distractedly, playing Angry Birds

"Where is Malta?"

"Seriously, Mary.   Where do you think Malta is?"

"Greece?" I asked. The look on his face wasn't encouraging. "Italy?" I continued. He didn't say anything. "I feel as if it is an island," I carried on. He nodded a bit. "Off the.....coast....of.... Italy?" I questioned.

"Malta is where Maltese come from," he explained.

The light went on,  although the intellectual respect had been greatly diminshed.

 In his mind, it was sort of like in 1992 when his sister asked where, exactly, the Star Fleet Academy school was since she had been seeing so many stickers on the back of cars recently. Was it a new college?

So it was with great horror that tonight the husband witnessed another error in judgement as we sat and watched "Antiques Roadshow."

It came in the form of a signature in a book about Indians that dated...well...before any of us had been born.

The signature was that of Chester Arthur, to which the commentator referred to as "President Chester Arthur." Really? We had a president named Chester Arthur? I made a mistake saying this aloud.

"Are you freaking serious," he asked. "You don't know who Chester Arthur is?"

"Well, they just said he was the President, but I don't remember him at all." My husband prattled off some sort of trade agreement fact that only a history major with a photographic memory would remember.

According to Chris' little Iphone,  that he whipped out to demonstrate his coolness, Chester Arthur was the 21st President of the United States.

 Add that to the list of "Things I Don't Know," I guess.  Such as where Malta is, or that the Cayman Islands are farther west than I had always believed.

Combine this with the fact that I haven't taken a shower for the past two days, I have gained a considerable amount of weight in the past month or so. Oh, and I'm a bad housekeeper.

I am really quite a catch. Really. Quite a catch.