Monday, January 27, 2014

An Exciting List

Okay, so the list itself isn't all that exciting.  I suppose I should title it something like "A List of a Few of the Things That Have Added Excitement to our Lives Over the Past Few Days," but believe it or not, I do try and summarize where possible.

  • The past couple days there was quite the brouhaha that amounted to "THE BLIZZARD!  THE BLIZZARD IS COMING!"  And then nothing.  Well, not nothing, but no snow or sleet or anything here, just a lot of bitterly cold temps and strong wind, strong enough, in fact, to knock our power out for a couple hours (and interrupt our recording of Downton Abbey, which I am trying to take in stride as a First World Problem.  It's kind of working.).  What's really amazing is that the power went out right about 9 pm, and was restored at 11 pm.  You guys, the high today is 1 degree Fahrenheit.  I don't even know how cold it was last night, and the wind gusts were strong enough to make our house shift and creak and groan.  We could feel the temperature inside the house slowly dropping just during the two hours we were without heat.  First of all:  How did people survive one and two hundred years ago up here?  Second:  I feel both gratitude that our power was turned back on so quickly but also a little horrified that a crew from the power company had to go outside and fix whatever was wrong.  Strong winds, below freezing temps, electrical stuff possibly involving heights:  all dangerous on their own, but put together?  Yeesh.  Thanks, power company guys.

  • While the crew from the power company were risking life and limb so that we could continue our pampered existence, our little family was tucked snug into our beds, because it was the warmest place to be.  Neither Derek nor I had fallen asleep when we heard a kind of muffled thud, and then Caedmon started crying.  I thought he had fallen out of bed, and so shuffled into his room, picked him up off the floor, rubbed his back while he cried and wailed something about bonking his face on the bed (which I more or less ignored, because apparently that's just what I do), then got ready to lay him back in his bed.  As I turned him toward the candlelight, I noticed something dark smeared all over his face and took new note of the wet kind of snuffling sound he was making.  After retrieving both my glasses and a flashlight, I was able to verify that sure enough, his face was completely covered in blood.  Honestly, that kid looked like something out of a horror movie, and he was pretty freaked out by his reflection in the bathroom mirror.  (I was too, especially as someone who studiously avoids looking into the bathroom mirror when I venture in there at night; I blame hearing one too many tellings of the story Bloody Mary when I was a kid).  Eventually I got Caedmon cleaned up, changed both his and my own blood-covered jammies, found all the blankets and pillows speckled with blood, and scrubbed it out of the carpet.  Let me tell you what, he may not be a star... well, anything at this point, but the kid can bleed like a champ.  We're so proud.

  • See these little things?

Those are airsoft pellets, which a friend of Atticus's brought over to our house last Thursday to play with.  The boys had a great time playing with them and these little homemade "gun" things ("gun" in quotation marks because they were nothing like actual guns), they played with them peacefully for quite some time, blah blah blah, all was well with the world.  Thursday night, however, Atticus wasted no time in shoving one deep into his ear canal.  Super.  Actually, what we were told was that Adelaide put it in his ear ("But just on the outside, to see if it would sit there!"), and Atticus was the one that shoved it in.  This involved much weeping on both sibling's parts, Atticus because he was scared (we made him sleep on his side, hoping gravity would do the trick and the thing would fall out- it didn't); as for Adelaide, I had to prod her a bit to find out why she was crying so hard:

Me:  Adelaide, why are you crying?

Adelaide:  *Cries, sobs, does ugly snot things*

Me:  Adelaide.  Daddy and I know what happened, and I know Atticus is crying because he's kind of freaked out to have that pellet in his ear.  What I need to know now is why you are crying.

Adelaide:  B-b-because I don't want Atticus to have a BB in his ear!

Me:  You're crying because you don't want Atticus to have a BB in his ear?

Adelaide:  (wails)  YEAH!  What if something happens and he can't hear again and it's ALL MY FAULT!  *dissolves into tears again*

Me:  (laughing in relief)  Oh, good!  I was afraid you were crying because you didn't want to get in trouble, but you're crying because you actually feel bad about what you did.  That's great!

Adelaide:  *cries harder*

We weren't able to get the pellet out ourselves, but the doctor did it in a trice first thing next morning, and even sent home the "BB getter" (her words, because she's good with kids) just in case we need to use it again (hopefully not because she can see in to the future).  I'm hoping we only have one toy-stuck-in-a-facial-orifice incident per kid, because that would mean we have two down and only one to go (Adelaide stuck a Barbie shoe up her nose when she was two.  I still don't know why).

  • In addition to Atticus's pellet in the ear, Thursday also brought one of these:

I took this pic Sunday, three days after the doorknob attacked Caedmon's face (I was standing right there, and I'm still not entirely sure how this happened), and it looks way better than it did a few hours after the fact.  For some reason this photo makes me laugh, perhaps because he looks like such a bruiser here, and not the sweet boy who beckons me to bend down several times a day just so he can repeatedly smooch my cheek then proudly announce, "I kissed you FOUR TIMES!"

I hope things have been blessedly un-exciting for all of you, dear friends.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bravo, Mothers of 4+

This is my first week without baby J.

Remember him?  The baby I've been watching for the past six months?  Well, he finally got into a local daycare center, which means I only have our three kiddos to watch over.

Mothers of four or more children, how do you do it?

I cannot even tell you how productive I've been today (in part because it would feel too much like bragging, but mostly because I'm afraid I'd put it all out there and you guys would be like "Um, I get that much done before my morning coffee every single day of my life.  That's completely average person productivity."), with just one kid in the house this morning while Atticus was at preschool, and then only two chilluns for the past couple hours.  I mean, all five members of our family are going to be sleeping on clean sheets tonight at the same time.  That hasn't happened since around early 2006.  (I've talked to you about my low standards before, right?  Just so we're clear.)

And we only had the baby during the day, four days a week, which means I had evenings and three other days to get stuff done.  It was still overwhelming.  Seriously, mothers of four or five or God help you six, how?  Have you simply made your peace with insanity?  Do you have some sort of strange coping mechanism they secretly tell you about at the hospital or... wherever you go when you adopt?  Do you automatically qualify for membership to some hidden and unbalanced but deeply supportive cult when you get the fourth?  What?  Because I know you can't be going it alone.  It's just not possible.

Yes, I froze in panic around thirty times this morning because Oh my gosh I haven't heard baby J in a really long time and I haven't even checked on him and holy crap I bet he's not breathing but then I remembered I hadn't heard him or checked on him because he's not here.  And yes, two of our three children have shed actual tears over the past few days because they don't get to see the baby or play with him or haul him around the house like the surrogate younger brother he's become to them.  We miss him already, and the thought of me seeing him in a month or so and him not recognizing my face kind of kills me (why do babies and small children have such short memories?  Oh, so they won't remember the fifty bajillion ways you screwed up with them?  Oh, okay.  That makes sense).

But I did get to have breakfast with this guy:

You didn't know Captain America likes Raisin Bran, did you?  Or that he's dragged those Batman jammies out of the dirty clothes hamper so many times he is seriously starting to stink.  But at least his sheets are clean!

I also- in another fit of our-youngest-child-has-been-educationally-neglected- played a game with Cade involving flashcards and letter sounds.  Turns out he knows all his letters and their sounds.  Who knew?  Not his mother.  When I called Derek and told him this, he said "I know, that kid's got a big brain; that's why you've got to keep challenging him," and I was like What?  We're not done once they know letter sounds?  You mean I have to keep teaching them things?
Sometimes I think Derek's a better stay-at-home mom than I am.

In other news, and because I can't think of a good way to wrap this post up:  It's still winter.  I don't understand why.  Somebody fix this.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Oldest Vs Middle Vs Youngest

My coffee maker has me thinking about birth order.

This coffee maker is a hand-me-down from a grandparent- I don't remember which- who, a few years a go, didn't need it anymore.  We took it because I wanted to be able to serve coffee to any java-loving guests who might accidentally stumble into our home.

Over the past few weeks, I've started making coffee for myself, two, maybe three mornings a week.  I have 3/4 cup, which doesn't sound like much until you take into account how much Thin Mint creamer I add (holy. cow. that stuff is crazy good), but I can't even drink down my whole cup.  Whole 3/4 of a cup.  Whatever.

Because I don't like to waste perfectly good coffee and because he's just so darn cute when he asks, I've been letting Caedmon have the last few sips of this coffee.  (DON'T FREAK OUT ON ME HERE.  These are literally sips I'm talking about, and it's, like, a quarter creamer, which makes it healthy.  hahahahaha  Oh, and nobody tell Derek coffee stunts your growth, because he's already super paranoid about Caedmon being the midget amongst Amazons- which yes, is looking more and more like his fate, but not because of me!  Well, yes, because of me, but because of my genetics, not my coffee, okay?  I'm so glad we had this talk.)

A few days ago, after I fed our three-year-old fully caffeinated coffee, I decided to educate the both of us on what this whole "What does the fox say" business was about, so we watched that video on YouTube, then Cade wanted to watch a Lennon and Maisy video, so we watched that, then I realized I had become a terrible parent.

When Adelaide was little I was completely and totally neurotic.  That child had zero sweets before her first birthday.  The only tv I allowed her to watch was sporadic VeggieTales DVD's, and only the ones I thought were particularly biblically educational.  When I was pregnant with Atticus, I decided that it was imperative that Adelaide be able to identify all her letters before her second birthday.  I couldn't have told you why, even at the time- it just felt monumentally important, and probably had something to do with an obscure article I read that featured some kind of claptrap about what Asian toddlers could do vs American toddlers.  (I really don't remember anything about the article itself, just the mental image it gave me of fat, pasty American children lying on the floor eating cake and staring vacantly at brightly colored lights while their young Asian overlords glared at them in disdain as they solved complex mathematical equations and honored their elders.)  The library was our home away from home.  I read books to her in Spanish.  I used insanely advanced vocabulary around, refusing to make anything easy.  In short, I was the most annoying person on earth.

Then came Atticus.  My standards didn't slip so much as avalanche off the parenting cliff.  I was still really weird about television, but hey!  The rest of us are having ice cream, why shouldn't the baby get some?  And those Spanish board books?  Please, I could barely remember higher-level English at the end of most days.  (Although let me just point out that the only Spanish words Adelaide can now speak with any fluency center around food, probably because those were the ones I used the most in everyday conversation- she was a really early reader, so when I could no longer spell out things like C-O-O-K-I-E to the other adults in the room, I switched to galletas, which only resulted in Adelaide knowing the spanish words for her favorite foods and the adults having no idea what I was ever talking about.)

And now we're to Caedmon, who gets coffee and YouTube videos rather than flash cards and whatever other things on-the-ball parents do for their children now.  I do read to him all the time, but that's not so much my doing; he seems to think that anytime I sit down is Read To Caedmon Time, never mind the novel, laptop, or bowl of cereal I have in front of me, and I swear Atticus's ears are specially tuned to the sound of the pages being turned in a children's book; I'll turn maybe one page and he'll just materialize at my side.

I'm now going to use the guilt writing this post has generated to clear our children's rooms of all but a few toys tomorrow- I don't remember exactly why, something about fostering creativity blah blah blah a culture of gratitude blah doing more with less blah blah.  I'm hoping what I've lost in parental coherency I'll make up for with blind luck.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

'Friends' Philosophy

One of the things Derek and I enjoy doing together is watching old episodes of Friends.  Working in television, Derek tends to take the whole experience to the next level, and while he thankfully spares me his thoughts on shot composition and lighting and blah blah blah, he does point out things I'd never notice, like how in one scene Mike's scarf goes from tied to untied about a dozen times each time the camera cuts away from him, or how one scene with Phoebe and Monica has some random dark haired girl standing in for Monica.  Once he pointed it out, I had no idea how I'd never noticed.  With me you get Friends 110, where I laugh at all the jokes I can recite by heart, and maybe even ruin it for you a bit by saying the punchline along with the character, which I'm sure isn't annoying at all.  With Derek you're taking the graduate level course because he's not as gentle as God- no, he will rip those scales from your eyes: "Hey, look, she's wearing a completely different outfit but it's still the same scene," and "Why is that guy in the background walking down the steps when a moment ago he was just entering the building?" and "Wow, that's not even Monica."  Somehow it's enjoyable, and will make you feel like you're now part of some kind of elite pool of Friends viewers, which is exactly as pathetic as it sounds.

In addition to Friends viewing, I find myself thinking about certain episodes way more than I should- such as the "There is no selfless good deed" episode.  In it, two of the characters argue over whether or not truly selfless good deeds exist.  One maintains they do, but can't think of any examples, and one says they don't, that there is a selfish component to every good deed, intentional or not.

I don't know why I think about that so much.  Perhaps because I do feel so good after doing so-called good deeds, which keeps them from being truly selfless.  I've agonized over this for years (seriously.  These still waters don't run so deep.), trying in vain to come up with a selfless good deed.

But finally, finally, I think I may have found one.

It was shortly before Christmas.  I had made it through the day, the children were finally in bed, Derek was at church helping with rehearsals for the Christmas program, and I had a nausea-inducing, crazy painful migraine.

I started getting migraines in my early twenties, and averaged about one a year for several years before having a glorious migraine-free streak that lasted around three years.  That streak was broken on this night, the night of the selfless good deed.

Now, when I have a migraine, I need utter darkness and total silence.  Basically I need an ibuprofen-stocked cave, but those are hard to come by, and pretty boring after awhile anyway.

So I was lying on the couch, my hands pressed hard on either side of my head (because sometimes that helps, too; someone needs to make a migraine vise), listening to Doctor Who; notwithstanding my need for silence and darkness, for some reason Doctor Who is comforting to me when I don't feel well.  I had my eyes closed and the volume was on low, but the blue light flickering through my eyelids was proving to be more than my head could handle, so I had just decided to turn it off and retreat to our bedroom when someone knocked on our front door.

Obviously it was the devil.  No one else has such impeccable timing.  (You didn't know the devil had great timing, did you?  Well he does.)

Shockingly, it was not the devil but a group of smiling tweens who promptly started screaming at me.  They did not stop for two full minutes.  And by "screaming" I mean "caroling."

That's right.  A group of well-meaning kids, led by two kind adults, had come to our house to sing one of my favorite Christmas songs, Oh Holy Night.

Being a native midwesterner- a species of beings whose niceness is rivaled only by Canadians, and who will stop at nothing to be as helpful and polite and kind to family and complete strangers alike, who, upon meeting someone from New Jersey who talked about his loud, raucous Italian family didn't believe him at first because she thought that stuff was made up for tv along with vegetarians and people who meditate- there was nothing to do but hope my painful grimace could pass for a grin and lean heavily on the front door for support.  I almost passed out.  Toward the end there was little silver confetti sprinkling itself across my vision; despite that, I managed what I hope was a genuine-sounding "Wow, thank you so much!  That was lovely!  Merry Christmas!"

Then I crawled upstairs and vomited.

A selfless good deed:  pretending to enjoy and be thankful for somebody else's good deed when in fact it makes you want to die.  I finally found one.  It was not worth it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Sigh For Help

I've made no secret of the fact that generally, when I'm the lone adult in the house and I hear a foreign noise, my brain decides it's clearly someone trying to break into our house or someone creeping through our basement or someone about to attack our children slumbering in their beds or aliens.

I've gotten used to this.  I know exactly which items- in a pinch- could be used for weapons in each room of our house.  I (along with Adelaide's help) have plotted different escape routes from different areas of the house, depending on where the threat is originating from.  I have spoken with our children about how bad guys often wear good guy faces, about what to do and where to go if they feel threatened or even slightly suspicious.  We have passwords.

Still, sometimes a new threat emerges.  Something that I'm afraid is threatening the safety of our family.

There's a new sound in our bedroom.

It happens almost every time I walk in the door of the bedroom.  One to two steps in, and I hear what sounds like the sigh of a human being.

The first couple times I heard it, I walked all the way around our bed, expecting to find one of our children hiding there, because to my mind, there's really nothing else that could be capable of that sound- a single, faint sigh of a person.  When I didn't find one, I did not freak out, thankyouverymuch.  (That came five trips/five sighs later, and has been steadily increasing every time I hear it.  So if I seem a little, I don't know, twitchier than normal in my own house, don't be alarmed.  Or do, I guess.)

I have talked to Derek about this.  He kept the resigned, Why Did I Have To Marry A Crazy Person look that often appears on his face relatively reined in, walked into our bedroom several times, listening carefully, while I hovered nearby.  He didn't hear anything, because when he walks in, there's nothing to hear.  (I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS.)  And I never hear it when anyone else is with me.  (I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS EITHER.)

I would just like to insert here that I'M NOT CRAZY.  And yes, I realize that that is a statement that often characterizes crazy people.  I'm a little anxious and perhaps a trifle paranoid, but I have no history of auditory hallucinations- when I say I hear a person sighing when I walk into my bedroom, I mean I hear a person sighing when I walk into my bedroom.

Now here's where you come in:  Please, please, please give me a rational explanation for this.  I've checked all around the bedroom door, to see if it's brushing against anything when I walk in.  I've walked and bounced and hopped across the floor to check for squeaky or, um, sigh-ey floorboards.  What else could it be?  Aside from some technological contraption Derek set up to freak me out?  Or ghosts?  (Which I'm 99% sure I don't believe in.)  Or aliens?  (Which I'm 98% sure I do.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A List for Tuesday. A Tuesday List.

  • I had book club yesterday morning, and afterward I marveled at how a certain television show has the ability to make an otherwise intelligent and well-educated group of women say things like "Oh. Mah. Gah," and "Can you even belieeeeeeve about poor Anna," and "It's just- it's just- I can't.  I just can't."  Yes, we also talked about our book, but when your book club meets the morning after Downton Abbey airs, you've got to expect barely intelligible gibberish.  It's loads of fun.  No, really.  It is.

  • Yesterday the temp hit somewhere around forty degrees (I may or may not have sung Martha and the Vandellas' Heat Wave a time or two thousand, which my children absolutely LOVED), which was around sixty degrees warmer than it was last week.  While I love the fact that we didn't have to wear six layers of clothing just to take the trash out, I find myself longing for some more sub-zero temperatures.  No, cabin fever has not caused me to lose my sanity (yet. probably.); rather, I recently read a report talking about how this winter's extreme cold temps has killed off a bunch of nasty insects, which hopefully means you won't have to suffer through as much of my incessant whining about Japanese beetles this summer.  According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, however, we need at least two days in a row with temps of -38 degrees Fahrenheit before we can see decreased numbers of the Emerald Ash Borer, and unfortunately wind chills don't count, or we'd have been there long ago.  The Ash Borer is that nasty bug that's killing all the Ash trees in the US, and it's set to hit central Iowa within the next couple years.  This is bad news for our family, as the five gigantic trees in our backyard are all Ashes.  Blargh.  Let this be a lesson to you to plant diverse species of trees in your yards, friends.  On a related note, no word yet on how cold it has to be before the rabbits start dying off.  I do know that it hasn't been cold enough, because almost every time I look out our back window there's one cheeky little bugger sitting in the middle of the snow, staring at the house.  I figure he's decided he's going to sit there right through the rest of winter until my tulips begin to sprout, because apparently this particular rabbit has a death wish.

  • You know those two foolish gifts I mentioned a couple posts ago?  The ones they received from their grandparents?  The ones I'd love to blame on said grandparents, except I can't, because Derek and I actually suggested them?  Well, one was legos, because read any article about educational toys, and you'll learn of the many virtues legos evidently possess, none of which I can call to mind right now.  Thankfully, I wear slippers 99% of the time in the winter, thus protecting my feet from those tiny barbs, except for that one time a few days ago when I somehow stepped on a dark one that blended in with the rug and made me squeal in pain and fully expect to see a stigmata-like wound when I inspected the sole of the foot.  There was barely a red mark, almost no evidence at all in proportion to the amount of pain I was in, which I'm pretty sure is all part of the hidden malevolent genius that I'm now half-convinced resides in the heart of every tiny lego.  The other gift was a sword for each of our boys.  Caedmon lost no time at all very seriously telling his teachers at church that he received a knife for Christmas.  I think we might be on their Watch List now.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Where I Give A Deeply Conflicted and Probably Completely Irrational Book Review

I've spent the last few weeks reading this one book.  Actually, I've read lots of books, but this one... I need to talk about this one.

Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath.  Have you read it?  Did you hate it?  Did you love it?  Has it stirred angst in your innermost being like it has mine?

It took every single day of the three weeks I had it from the library to read it.  That never happens to me.  I'm a fast reader, and have no problem spending long periods of time sitting and reading, reading, reading (according to Tom Rath this will kill me; but then, according to Tom Rath most of the things I do will kill me).  I could only read a few pages at a time.  After each chapter, I would either nod my head in agreement with Tom Rath and his utter sensibility or hurl the book at the couch calling down a rain of fire on Tom Rath's head.  (You should get used to me saying Tom Rath.  I can't seem to make myself use just his first or last names and pronouns won't stick to him.  I bet even his children call him "Tom Rath," which is charming only if your name is Atticus and you dwell in the book To Kill A Mockingbird.)

It's just too much.  The entire book- which is pretty short, by the way- is too, too much.  The whole book is Tom Rath telling you the healthiest way to live your life.  He tells you what to eat and what not to eat.  He tells you when to move and when not to move (according to Tom Rath if you're not moving right now you're purposely killing yourself).  He tells you when to sleep and when not to sleep (according to Tom Rath I'm killing myself right now because I haven't gone to sleep for the night).  The real kicker?  There is no denying he's right about almost everything in the whole, God-forsaken book.

But you know what?  I can't live like that.  I can't exist solely on leafy greens, a handful of nuts here and there, and fish for supper every night.  And getting exactly 7-9 hours of sleep every single night of my life?  Even forgetting for just a second about Atticus's night terrors (which is impossible, by the way), I can't do that.  Okay, so I won't do that.  Do you know how many children I have hanging on me needing something right now?  Zero.  I have zero needy parasites constantly invading my personal space.  (I'm just kidding, my darling, darling children!  Except not, because very little about our relationship is symbiotic right now.  You are indeed parasitic at this point in your lives, children.)  Tom Rath wants me to shorten that glorious time every evening.  Tom Rath is a cotton-headed ninnymuggins.  (Just kidding, Tom Rath!)

The only part of Tom Rath's whole super-healthy life plan I'm able to execute with any success is daily exercise, and that's only because I am worthless without exercise.  Daily exercise is the only consistent cure that's ever worked for my moderate to severe stomach pains (I know, Mom, someday I will go to the doctor for it- just not today... or tomorrow... or pretty much anytime I don't think I'm about to die from it.  YOU MADE ME THIS WAY, MOTHER), my depression, anxiety, knee pain, back pain, and everything else that's wrong with me, mental, physical, and emotional.  Pain and the threat of mental illness are excellent motivators, as it turns out.

Everything else he talks about- and he talks about A LOT OF THINGS- I completely and totally suck at.  You know my whole New Year's non-resolution to eat more fruits and vegetables?  That's not an effort to be healthier (not for the most part anyway), but pure, Tom Rath-induced guilt.

I know he means well.  He's imparting hard-earned wisdom and knowledge about how to prolong your (miserable, as any life is without complex carbohydrates and sugar) life.  He has this rare disorder where he's missing some kind of gene that suppresses tumors in the body.  His body is constantly riddled with tumors, any of them potentially malignant or benign.  He combats this disorder by getting regular MRI's and CT scans to head off anything cancerous ASAP, and by living the absolute healthiest lifestyle possible.  Seriously, the absolute healthiest.  After reading his book, I'm not completely convinced the man isn't a robot.  (Or, based on the jacket photo, a mannequin and/or homicidal psychopath.  I said as much to Derek, who stated it was just a bad photo and he should have a word with his publisher about that.  I stuck with my mannequin/psychopath stance, but to be fair at that point I was almost done with the book and just looking for reasons to hate Tom Rath.)  (Just kidding, Tom Rath!)  (Kind of.)

Now, for any of you annoyingly healthy people who might be reading this:  I get it.  I really do.  If I were to eat healthier, and get more sleep, and move around more, it would become a habit, and a lifestyle, and blah blah BLAH.  Please just don't.  I am not putting this out there for you.  I am putting this out there so all my like-minded Oreo face-stuffers can rally behind me and then engage in a glorious opinion-validation loop (I've been on the internet enough to know that that is the true reason for its existence: it provides opportunity for anyone to find validation for their opinions, no matter how idiotic).

The problem with everything I just said is that it was a good book.  Like, I gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads good.  And I know I'm going to have to check it out and read it all over again, because I was so caught up in a guilt/hate spiral most of the time I was reading it.

You guys should read it, too!  Join me on this crazy train, won't you?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do Cell Phones Have Fewer or More Lives Than Cats?

My phone.  My poor, poor phone.  At this point I feel like anytime I'm in a cell phone store or even walk past one of those kiosks filled with phones, the poor little electronic dears all try to blend in with their surroundings as much as possible so as not to attract my attention, and if I actually reach out to one, they cringe and shudder as my fingers draw near.  Actually, the scene that plays in my head is that one from Who Framed Roger Rabbit where the bad guy (what was his name?) has ahold of that sweet animated shoe and is slowly lowering it into The Dip.  I don't know if I'm The Dip or the bad guy, though.  Probably both, in the case of cell phones. 

My poor, battered phone.  In the last month, it's been dropped (countless times, but most notably in the checkout line at Target, and although I wasted no time in picking up the back cover and the bulk of the phone and fitting them back together, it wasn't until a college girl standing in line behind me tapped on my shoulder and handed me the battery that I realized I maybe shouldn't be allowed to own a cell phone-by the way, thanks, College Girl at Target!  You're a peach!), bathed in milk (technically this one wasn't my fault, but I really should know better than to allow my phone to be anywhere near our children at lunchtime), and run over.  By me.  In our van.

I had taken Cade and baby J out to the van to go pick Atticus up from preschool when my phone apparently slid unnoticed from my coat pocket to the ground directly behind our van.  We left, retrieved Atticus, then came back.  I had unloaded all the boys when I noticed my phone, lying in the snow behind one of the rear wheels of the vehicle, with dirty tire tracks across its face.  

It was in perfect working order.  

Thankfully, we have a gravel driveway and that day, a fresh layer of snow every half hour or so; when I picked the phone up, it left a perfect cell phone-shaped indentation in the snow, which no doubt saved it.  It was also cold enough out that all the ice and snow on it didn't get a chance to melt but could be brushed right off.  It also proves that we were wise in choosing a phone for me that got good reviews for its "indestructibility."  Keep in mind, this is not a smart phone.  I think I've proven- just in this post alone- that I'm not to be trusted with anything that's both electronic and expensive.

At this point, I'm just thankful all the keys still work on this one; I spent more than a year without the ability to use any of the keys on the first or third rows on the keyboard on my old phone, which are surprisingly necessary when texting.  They may or may not have stopped working after being dropped in water for the third time in a week.

If I ever do get a smart phone (I don't want one at this point; nothing good could come of it), I'm comforted by the knowledge that I can encase it in Kevlar.  I know this because that's what my mom has done with her phone.  My Olympic-level ability to drop and otherwise destroy things?  Pretty sure it's genetic. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cabin Fever

It's cold outside.  Our average temperature has been anywhere from ten above to ten below for quite some time now (with the exception of a couple glorious days when my mom and Mark were visiting and temps were in the 40's- I've come to believe they bring warmer temperatures with them when they venture north), and while this isn't enough to keep some people inside, it is for me.

For our children, this means they'll be minding their own business, playing somewhat quietly, when suddenly they'll surge to their feet and begin sprinting through the rooms of our first floor, doing lap after lap of the circular floor plan.  Their energy is literally uncontainable.

This cabin fever manifests itself a little differently in me.  Rather than running mindlessly through the house, I mindlessly throw things out of it.  The more time I spend within these walls, the more cluttered our home seems, no matter how much I clean and organize.

The obvious answer is to purge, purge, purge just about anything that's not nailed down, no matter how much or how violently my family cries things like "But that's my favorite toy!" or "But how will I brush my teeth?" and "Won't we need that in the summer?"  I don't care.  I just want it out of my house.

Some of it's good.  Like the old clothing I had saved (alright, hoarded) that no longer fit but was made of pretty fabric.  Past, optimistic (and somewhat idiotic) Me had thought that surely I would find a use for it someday.  Pillow covers or quiet books or whatever.  Present-day Me is realistic and merciless; I now have major piles of my stuff destined for all kinds of different homes (how my past self would have cried!  How my current self doesn't care one teensy tiny bit!).

Then I have other piles of stuff.  These are the things that our children have objected to with protests that generally follow along the lines "But I'm going to start playing with it!  And besides, that's my third-favorite monkey/elephant/completely useless plastic toy!"  Unfortunately for them, Winter Mom is completely devoid of compassion.  (I know this because Adelaide informed me so just the other day: "Mom, you have absolutely NO COMPASSION in the winter!"  This was not due to my purging, but instead because I won't let our kids eat graham crackers in the winter.  I don't know if you were aware of this, but graham crackers are the crumbliest, crumb-iest, most maddening food in the world if you like walking through your house without every step being accompanied by a nasty crunch, crunch, crunch, so I only allow graham crackers when it's warm enough for them to eat outside.  The winter ban on graham crackers apparently means I'm heartless.  Please pray for our children; their lives are just so hard.)  If the toy doesn't have some sort of sentimental value (according to me- Adelaide will attach sentimental value to the sticks she finds in the yard), isn't well-made, isn't a favorite and frequently played with, or doesn't have some sort of capacity for teaching our children, then it's gone.

Listen to how hard-line, how intensely reasonable I sound!  I think I'll wait 'til tomorrow to tell you about the utterly foolish toys Derek and I suggested our parents get for our kids (Hint: one feels curiously like thumb tacks when you step on them, and the other encourages violence between siblings).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year's List

  • I'm pretty sure last year I wrote a post grousing about New Year's and how it's just an arbitrary day and it's completely meaningless and blah grumble blah.  I still feel that way.  

  • Last night was the first night in several years I was still awake at midnight, and the only celebrating Derek and I did was watching old Friends episodes, which is a pretty perfect party, if you ask me.  We did switch over to the re-broadcast of Dick Clark's Rockin' Whatever (because we're in the Central time zone, they re-air the last hour leading up to the ball drop on CBS so we middle-of-the-country peasants can pretend to have fun, too; NBC doesn't bother) to see the freaky celebrities doing completely incomprehensible things and uttering inanities that make absolutely no sense whatsoever.  It makes me believe no one should ever be up that late, although, to be fair, I'm pretty sure those people are just as flummoxing by the light of day.

  • I don't make New Year's resolutions.  Well, that's not quite true; I will sometimes enter into a small mental pact with myself to try and maybe perhaps do something over the next year that I'm currently sucking at, if it's not going to be too hard and I feel like it.  It's like a resolution for under achievers.  Last year, while everyone was saying things like "I'm going to do more to lift up my fellow man" and "I'm dedicating 20 hours a month to helping the poor" I was telling myself that in 2013, I'm going to try and shower on a more regular basis.  And I did!  Please keep in mind that at the end of 2012, I had a 2, 4, and 6-year-old and showering- or doing anything for myself- was generally dead last on the day list of Things To Do.  (And if you think that our kids' current ages of 3, 5, and 7 years is practically the same, then I suspect you spend very little actual time around small children.)  So far today I've read- via social media- the resolutions "Ran 9 miles today, going to crush that half-Marathon this year!" and "2014 is going to be the year of letting go for me.  I already feel more peaceful."  Since I'm now getting regular showers, more or less (do you have any idea what a luxury that is?  Regular bathing?), I've moved on to this year's Mental Pact With Myself But Don't Call It A Resolution Because That Smacks Of Accountability And No Way Am I Setting Myself Up For Failure Like That:  Eating more fruits and vegetables.  I started several days ago, and have been doing quite well.  Why yes, I am the most exciting person you know.

Happy Just Another Day That Someone Randomly Assigned Meaning To, everyone!