Friday, February 28, 2014

What Species of Reader Are You?

I found this awesome, fascinating, magnificent, so, so fun infographic on Pinterest last night, and spent way too much time trying to classify myself when I should have been sleeping.


According to this, I am a *deep breath* Book Lover-Compulsive-Book Cherisher-Hoarder/Library Lover.  But also a Book Lover-Compulsive-Book Abuser-Book Buster (but only for paperback books I own).  But also a Book Lover-Compulsive-Book Abuser-Underliner and Scribbler (but only for nonfiction I own).  But also a Book Lover-Situational-App Happy.  But also a Book Lover-Situational-Comfort Reader (I identified very, very strongly with this one, except that while I own a lot of books in general, within that collection I have a smallish group of comfort books that I have read approximately one billion times).  But also a Book Lover-Situational-Social-Evangelist (but only for very, very specific books, like Harry Potter and 7).  But also a Book Lover-Situational-Social-Book Clubber.  But also a Book Lover-Free Range-Cross-Under.  But also (strangely) an Other Reader-Hater-"I Love to Hate It" Reader (I find throwing books that I hate across the room to be intensely satisfying).  All that to say:  I'm apparently a Cross-Bred Reader Mutt.

Crikey.  Now it's your turn.  What species of reader are you?  Aren't we having the best time?  No?  Just me?

Thursday, February 27, 2014


  • Today has been a tired kind of day because last night was a rough night, Atticus-wise.  I made it through the morning, but when I really started dragging about an hour ago, I decided a cup of coffee should do the trick.  Plugged the coffee maker in, paced for a minute, did some high-knees running around the house (to wake myself up and because I can), then wondered why I hadn't heard any coffee gurgling its way into the pot yet.  As it turns out, you need to add water, a coffee filter, and coffee grounds to the coffee maker, not to mention turning it on, before it will perform its magic.  It took a full ten seconds of me staring stupidly at the empty coffee pot before I figured this out.  

  • I've been meaning to write a "Books" post for a couple months now, but every time I've sat down to write one, I've thought Oh, but wait, I wanted to tell everyone about This book and That book and they're next on my reading list.  I'll wait just another week, then write the post so I can include them.  I have done this at least five times now.  It is finally occurring to me that there will always be another book I want everyone to know about and read rightthissecond, as my To Read list is never-ending.  I'm going to try and start the "Books" post tomorrow, but looking back over my Goodreads account and trying to pick which ones to review is a teensy bit excruciating; as such, I may end up doing a few book posts in a row.  Or I may get busy and forget about the whole thing until July.  Isn't this blog fun?

  • Caedmon and I went to our local library yesterday morning.  At one point the lovely lady that leads story time said, "Wait... wait a minute.  Caedmon, are your pants on backward?"  Caedmon blithely replied, "Oh, yeah."  She looked at me, and I was forced to admit that yes, I knew his pants were on backward.  I just didn't care.  Not Caring is something I've become excellent at doing, particularly when it comes to backwards pants, backwards underwear (this looks so, so painful but Caedmon continually insists on wearing them that way), backwards shirts, wearing his sister's socks, etc, etc.  I'm so proficient at Not Caring I could put it on my resume, although for what job I have no idea.  Thankfully this library lady knows us well and is regularly confronted with the eccentricities unique to mothers of young children.  She laughed, and that was all.  I suppose it didn't seem all that strange, given that it was from the same child who, depending on the day, insists on being called Batman, Superman, the Head, and, rarely, Caedmon.  The library staff are always very good sports about it and ask as soon as he walks in what his name is that day.  Rolling with the name changes is one of many things they are very, very good at (although "the Head" threw us all a bit.  I still don't really know what that's supposed to mean).  

  • Caedmon doesn't use the contraction "won't," instead, he uses "willn't," which I realize isn't a real word, but if you give it (too much) thought, you'll realize "willn't" as a contraction makes more sense for "will not" than "won't" does, anyway.  I may just start using it myself.  It would be a fun social experiment to see how many people I could convince that "willn't" is actually the proper contraction for "will not."  Kind of like the time Derek told a coworker at ESPN that the correct pronunciation of "Wichita" was "Wih-Ih-Ah."  The guy believed Derek, and went on to pronounce it that way.  Hilarity ensued.  For Derek, anyway.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Tercel

Brace yourselves:  I'm going to talk about cars today.  Be assured it will most likely never ever happen again.  Not because I don't like them or I have a religious belief against them, but because in general I just don't really care about them.

Oh, except for my first car.

It was blue.  A pretty little blue Toyota that had been my dad's.  I remember when we went and bought the car (in large part because it was, up to that point in my life, one of the most intensely boring days I had ever experienced).  The poor sales guy kept showing my parents different cars, and my dad would stubbornly repeat variations on the theme, "I want a car that will get me from point A to point B.  That's it."

And that's what they got.  It was (is, it is, because don't kid yourself: that car is still running, and will probably run until the end of time) a little 4-cylinder, stick shift, two-door Tercel with dark vinyl seats (the better to retain heat in the summer so as to give you immediate contact burns on any surface of skin you were foolish enough not to protect from the car), no air conditioning, no power steering, no power anything, for that matter, no right side-view mirror, no radio, no speakers, no clock, no nothing car.

I loved that car.

It was peppy.  It whipped around corners beautifully.  It was as reliable as the sun (more on the sun in just a moment), got great gas mileage, and the one amenity it featured, heat, worked so well in the winter it was like it was trying to make up for the fact that it lacked pretty much everything else other cars have.

So maybe it wasn't the most powerful car in the world.  I've heard another Tercel owner compare the sound of the engine to that of a lawn mower.  So what?  It moved with alacrity when I pressed down on the gas pedal.  It's not like my life was The Fast and the Furious.

So maybe my affectionate nickname for it was The Easy-Bake Oven.  I remember getting in the car to drive the five minutes it took me to get to work as a carhop at Sonic, and arriving in clothes quite literally drenched in sweat.  When it's well over 100 degrees outside, you're sitting on dark vinyl seats, and the cooking implement isn't so much a light bulb as the sun, it's going to get a little hot.  So what?  As a carhop, I spent half my shift outside, anyway.  (This was a little different when I started working in a drugstore.  On the very hottest days, I would bring a different shirt to change into when I got to work, and hang my sopping wet shirt up to drip-dry while I worked.  I'm pretty sure they loved me there.)  I had friends who said things like WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THIS CAR and I HAVE NEVER BEEN THIS HOT IN MY LIFE and OH JEEZ I FEEL SICK.  It was a car, wasn't it?  Teenagers.  So dramatic.

It was because of this car that I was so confused and not a little cranky when we moved to Connecticut.  We lived in a relatively working-class neighborhood, not at all what you'd call affluent, especially by Connecticut standards, but there was a high school just a couple blocks away from our condo, and that school parking lot was full of nice, new cars with brand names like BMW and Lexus.  What the heck?  This gave me lots of opportunities for curmudgeonly grumbling about Youth Entitlement and Kids These Days (it just occurred to me I was the ripe old age of 21 when I moved there- at this point I could either label myself as an "old soul" or just accept that I've always been a little cranky).

Now, thankfully, we're back in the midwest, where the school parking lots are full of bikes and old trucks and, my favorite, an old, rusty, beater car that has a bumper sticker that reads "Don't be fooled by my car- my treasure is in heaven."

My point?  I don't really have one.  Except to say that even if you have money coming out your ears, please don't get your kid a nice car when they first start driving.  I am happy with just about any car I drive now, I don't care if it's pretty, I don't care if it doesn't have power-whatever- I just want it to get me from point A to point B.  (Although, I'm not gonna lie, I might cry on the day when I finally get to drive a manual transmission vehicle again.  I feel very strongly about those.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Failed Duplicity

Caedmon has been getting himself into a bit of trouble lately.  Nothing serious, merely small naughty-isms that he must perform half a dozen times apiece before he learns that Oh!  Maybe I shouldn't do that anymore.

The wonderful thing about these daily rituals is that he appears to be utterly lacking the gene for slyness.  I can always count on being alerted to his dealings outside the (Crisler) law by two things:  Running and Declaration.

Yesterday morning, exiting the bathroom, I watched as Caedmon Ran wildly out of the kitchen and Declared, "I didn't drink your coffee!"

A few days before that, I came downstairs after putting away some clean clothes upstairs, only to have Cade Run up to me and Declare, "I wasn't messing with Adelaide's pens!"

One day last week he Ran into the living room just as I was walking in and Declared, "I don't know where the chocolate chips are!"  His face was much darker than usual, perhaps because it was covered in chocolate.

It is (almost) always so, so difficult not to laugh when he does this.  I'm usually able to keep my composure, however, because my favorite part of this little play we perform is when I kneel down and say, "Caedmon, I know it was you who colored on the floor," "Caedmon, I know you were playing with my makeup," "Caedmon, I know you ate a sucker without asking."  The look on his face is pure astonishment tinged with not a little dazzled amazement at the Mommy Magic I must be employing to bring about this parental omniscience.  I know that worldliness is creeping in and, too soon, he'll learn more devious forms of disobedience.  I like to think that this simple innocence, present even in his three-year-old deceit, is compensation for all the hard parts of parenting littles.

Now if only he'd keep this practice up through his teenage years (although, I'm not gonna lie, I shudder to think what his Declarations would sound like then).

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lists Are Your Friends

I don't even know what that title means.  Anyway, onward.

  • Yesterday and today the high temperature was close to 50.  Fif-ty.  Enough snow melted that I was able to see parts of my flower beds, and yes, I did put my face close enough to the dirt to smell it.  I also found myself searching for green shoots, even though I know the ground is still frozen and that a few days of above-freezing temperatures is not enough to compel flowers to begin their growth cycle, and that if I were to see plants this early in the season, it would in fact be a bad thing, overall.  Whatever.  I'm getting desperate.  Plus we're in a blizzard warning all day tomorrow and tomorrow night.  I will never see my flowers again.  

  • It would appear that our children have no volume control, but only when we're in public, and only when they're saying semi-mortifying things.  At church Sunday morning, I had just picked Adelaide up from her class, and we were in the common area of the children's section, which is just crawling with, well, children, when Adelaide announced to me that "I know why you don't like me singing that song 'I'm sixty and I know it.'"  Oh, no no no.  "It's because it actually goes 'I'M SEXY'!"  See, every once in a while they play a pop music station on Adelaide's school bus, so one day last year Adelaide began chanting "I'm sexy and I know it" after school, I freaked out a little bit, contacted a couple people in the school district, had a talk with Adelaide about how it was inappropriate, then forgot about it.  I didn't even know she was actually saying "I'm sixty and I know it" until she very clearly and very loudly declared so at church.  Thirty seconds later Caedmon, who had been staring at a young father sporting a really quite impressive moustache began to hold forth in a carrying voice about said facial hair:  "LOOK AT THAT GUY'S MOUSTACHE.  DO YOU SEE IT MOMMY?  MOMMY?  THAT GUY.  HE HAS A MOUSTACHE.  A BIG HUGE MOUSTACHE.  RIGHT THERE MOMMY.  DO YOU SEE THE MOUSTACHE?"  That evening we had decided to eat supper in an actual restaurant where they serve you food and you don't have to clean up afterward (aren't restaurants amazing?).  Caedmon asked Derek what was in the yellow bottle next to the ketchup.  I didn't hear Derek's answer, but I did hear Caedmon incredulously repeat "MOUSE TURDS?"  As did everyone with a 100 foot radius.  You're welcome, adoring public.  Enjoy your food.

  • Monday morning it snowed around three inches, on top of however many inches we still had on the ground.  That afternoon the temp climbed up to around 40 (40 degrees!  It was like summer around here!), plus Derek didn't have to work, so we all went to a nearby park to sled and throw snow at each other.  I can't really call it a snowball fight because the only person in this family who can a) throw a snowball more than ten feet and additionally b) throw with any kind of accuracy is Derek, so it was really more Derek hitting the rest of us with snowballs while we all flailed around.  I took half a dozen pictures that all look pretty much like this one:

Guess where that snowball ended up?  The same place the other thirty did:  splatted somewhere on Adelaide's person.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A List For Your Thursday Viewing Pleasure

  • Last Saturday's lunchtime conversation:  
Adelaide:  "I can't wait for this afternoon."

Derek:  "Why is that, Adelaide?"

Adelaide:  "Because I'm going to do the Winter Cleaning Of My Mind.  It's stocked full and I can't put any new thoughts in there because it's so clogged up."

Obviously what she needs is a pensieve, but I knew better than to bring that up, as I have not yet allowed her to read Harry Potter.  I have also said no to The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings.  According to Adelaide, this is unfair and overly strict- this from the girl who had an emotional break down after reading Old Yeller.  I stand by my edicts... but can I just say how hard it is to tell her she can't read such good books?  One of the pleasures of our children getting older is when they finally reach the various maturity levels required for assorted novels, don't you think?

  • Caedmon has been talking an awful lot about prison lately.  It's a trifle worrisome.  Even Atticus commented on it the other day:  "Caedmon, why are you always putting your Lego guys in jail?"  He runs around the house, talking about all the different people he's just put in jail (usually "bad guys," but not always), he talks about who he would call with his one phone call (he asked me what would happen if he were ever put in jail, and between fingerprinting and the one phone call my knowledge of incarceration was exhausted), he builds little jails out of Legos.  I am comforted by his statement the other day- "I'm going to be a police officer when I'm an adult!"- because that's less worrisome than just about any alternative outcome to all this imaginary play.

  • Atticus has been doing this a lot lately:

I'll be making supper, folding laundry, reading, whatever, then turn around and find the business end of a foam sword pointed at my chest.  I'm not sure what to make of it.

Caedmon, of course, wants to do whatever Atticus is doing, so he tries to mimic his big brother.

He has trouble keeping the smile off his face when he's doing it, however.  I wonder how that will translate to his life as an upholder of the law.  And yes, they are both wearing beach towels as capes.

The end.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

4-H Crafts for Grown Ups

See this?

Right away, let me assure you I did not come up with this idea.  I first saw this monster Valentine box idea on Pinterest a long time ago, and it has since mated and reproduced and made many, many monster babies.  Also?  I did not think that analogy through.

Backing off of the reproductive practices of monster boxes and onto the advent of Valentine boxes:  If you have school-age children, you know that it is not longer enough to send your child to school with a plain old Valentine.  They must now have a small treat with their standard Valentine (something that was only reserved for the over-achievers when I was young), half of their classmates' Valentines won't even be those cheap, perforated, store-bought numbers; they will be beautifully crafted, hand-made creations you'll feel guilty about throwing away (oh, but you'll still do it), and you will be expected to create some kind of receptacle for all those gorgeous Valentines and treats and other guilt-inspiring doodads ("guilt" because I don't generally do those things).

Enter the Valentine box.

Somehow, when you see those amazing Valentine boxes on Pinterest, you believe that it's just that: something that that one mom on Pinterest does, while the rest of us are content to wrap old Kleenex boxes in butcher paper and hand our kid a crayon to decorate it (this was my actual plan, FYI).  Then you walk into your kid's preschool and see glittering castle Valentine boxes and Lego Valentine boxes and boxes that are covered in real chicken feathers (don't even ask).  At this point you realize that your slacker parenting methods aren't going to work this time.

I know how this all works, okay?  I was in 4-H.  I competed in the fair every summer and won my share of ribbons.  (And not those lame reds or, God forbid, white ribbons, just so we're clear)  I can lose sleep and cry real tears over meaningless crafts with the best of them, making these Valentine boxes right up my alley.

Still, it's been a long time since I was in 4-H, and there are no ribbons on the line here (soccer moms prefer to deal in guilt and shame), so I find myself veering toward the ideas on Pinterest with key words like "Under 10 Minutes!" and "So easy I was able to do it in the middle of the daily ten-mile run!"  Unfortunately, Pinterest moms are dirty, dirty liars, as this box took me approximately one and a half episodes of Doctor Who to complete (although, to be fair, one of the episodes was Angels Take Manhattan which I absolutely recommend if you want to have a panic attack every time you see a statue for the rest of your natural life- it may or may not have slowed me down a teensy bit), and involved around half a roll of tape.

It also seemed really plain when I was done, so I twisted up and added some random sparkly pipe cleaners to the top.  I thought this jazzed it up nicely enough, until our children woke up and saw it this morning.

Adelaide's verdict was "It's funny," but Atticus looked at it, smiled, then turned to me and asked, "Why did you make my Valentine box look like Ms. Hollie?"

Ms. Hollie is one of Atticus's preschool teachers.  She is not red.  She does not have the shape of a Kleenex box.  She does not have blue eyes, nor does she have three eyes, nor does she have lazy or wandering eyes.  She does not have a gaping maw of nightmare teeth.  So I asked, "What do you mean, Bud?"

"It looks like Ms. Hollie.  You know," he gestured to the top of his head, "crazy hair."

Ah.  Ms. Hollie does have a head full of curly, corkscrewy hair.

This all gave me an idea for a terrific new reality show:  The 4-H'ers of [Washington, Cowley, Story, whatever] County, where you follow young 4-H kids as they get ready for the fair.  The tears!  The drama!  The animal excrement!  The sewing machine-induced injuries!  And- plot twist!- all the 4-H judges are preschoolers.

Makes about as much sense as anything that's on tv now.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

3 1/2 Nieces

Last week I went and saw my sisters.

Wait, was it last week?  You know, I don't think it was.  I think it was the week before that.  Crikey, I meant to write about this sooner.  This is how most of my blog posts go; I write dozens and dozens in my head each month, but only a few actually make it on here, and not because of my rigorous self-editing process or anything, but because by the time I've sat down to write about it, I've forgotten whatever it was that made that one topic so interesting.  You don't know how many times I've sat in this chair and thought Hmmm, peanut butter... it had something to do with peanut butter or I know there was a potential post somewhere in there about vacuuming, and it was just hilarious, but- but that can't be right, can it?  It all gets tangled and lost somewhere in the vault (let me just stop and say how ridiculous it is that I just referred to my own brain as "the vault" when anyone knows it should have a title more like "the sieve" or "that closet at your great-grandma's house that everyone's afraid to go into and smells weird"), never to be thought of again.

The only reason I haven't forgotten about this post is because if I didn't have a husband and children of my own, I'd be that annoying family member that stops by waaaaay too often because my nieces are the sweetest and best and most beautiful and smartest and funniest and most scrumptious little girls in the world.  After my Adelaide, of course.

My excuse for going down for a visit in the first place was to visit my newest niece, six-week-old Norah:

She is soft and warm and smells good and loves to be cuddled.  It was heaven.  

I also got to spend some long overdue quality time with her big sister Charlotte:

Charlotte is somehow almost two years old.  I'm not quite sure how this happened.  

Charlotte takes her new role as big sis seriously.  She lets anyone with hearing know if there's the remotest possibility that Norah might need something, and when she's not helping with Norah, she's swaying and rocking her own baby doll to sleep.  Kelli joked that Charlotte is more maternal than she is.  This is true, but by the end of two days I'd decided Charlotte is more maternal than Michelle Duggar.  

Char's other favorite thing to do (aside from holding tea parties) was smile, which makes it all the more mystifying that I never get a good picture of her.  This is probably because all I can do is smile goofily back when she unleashes the full force of her cuteness on me.

This is Norah smiling and cooing at me, and Charlotte kissing Norah's hand, because that's just what they both do.  You can see why I didn't want to leave.

We also got to see my other niece, Vada:

We had to let her sit on Adelaide before I could get a good picture of her; in every single other one she was a blur, because's that's just what stage she's in right now.  Her mom, my sister Steph, is due to have her second baby in April.  I get exhausted just thinking about Stephanie's life.  

Derek's mom was so, so kind and watched our kiddos for a few days, making all this baby time possible.  This made everyone happy:  I got to see my sisters and their families, my kids got to have some much-begged-for grandma time, and Derek got to golf 126 holes down in Florida, all but ten in the pouring rain.  He had his golf stuff strewn around the house for days after he got back, just waiting for it to dry out.  Fortunately, his life with us is so hectic back home that he was still able to look at a sopping wet trip as a vacation.  

We also got to get together with my dad and his wife after I'd reunited with our kids:

I love this picture of Norah because that is how Adelaide slept for the first couple months of her life:  arms stretched up, hands on either side of her head.  It was also a little bittersweet to see Char wearing so many of Adelaide's hand-me-down clothing.  Nothing shows you how monstrously gigantic your children have gotten as seeing their sweet, former teeny tiny clothes on your nieces.

Adelaide's two goals for the trip were to jump on the hay bales at grandma's house (done within fourteen hours of our arrival), and to hold precious Norah.  Two for two, Adelaidey.  (Note again how UTTERLY HUGE our children apparently are.  It would seem I've been spending too much time with friends who have kids that are older than my own; I've been thinking of our children as relatively small and young.  This trip set me straight, because all three are obviously humongous and apparently also practically on the verge of leaving for college.)

I swear I could make an entire photo book just of Kelli and Aaron reading to our children, and we live seven hours apart.  Every time we see them, one of our kiddos finds and coerces either the aunt or the uncle (probably whomever happens to be sitting down) to read them a book (or five), and the other two soon flock to the impromptu story time.  

It was such a good trip, and not just because traveling with our three kids gets easier and easier as they get older (so. much. easier.).  Now I just have to count the days (or months, I guess, *sob*) until we get to see them all again.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I Feel Like This Doesn't Bother Me As Much As It Should

It's almost the middle of February, and you know what that means:  I'm finally getting around to sending our Christmas Thank You's out!

I know.  It's terrible.  And while I do feel bad about how late they are, I take solace in remembering all the times my aunt Sherry would randomly hand me a (handcrafted, unfailingly adorable) gift and say things like "This is your Christmas gift" (it was June) or "Here's your sixteenth birthday present" (I was eighteen), except her excuse was a little more legitimate: quilting and sewing and such takes buckets of time.  Writing a Thank You card does not, unless you're me (or Adelaide), who can turn even the simplest of tasks into something ridiculously time-consuming.  And I loved getting those gifts from Sherry!  It gave you the sense that any day could erupt into a spontaneous holiday, that unexpected quilted penguins might be lurking around any corner (which is more whimsical and less menacing than I just made it sound).

I had set aside one day last week as The Day I Would Get All Kinds Of Things Done, chief amongst them completing at least three Christmas Thank You's.  At this point I feel I should clarify that these Thank You's have been half-done, sitting on the kitchen counter for at least a month.  I usually have all three kids color a picture for each person who was generous enough to send them a gift, then I include a hand-written note, which is all a great idea in theory but in practice generally means that many of our family and friends receive two pieces of paper scribbled with crayons but missing the note from me explaining what that's all about.  I don't worry about this too much; I think anyone receiving something in the mail with our return address on it instinctively knows that they're about to have a little bewilderment injected into their day.  Martha Stewart with her scented stationery and perfect handwriting I am not.  (I actually don't know if she possesses either of those things.  With Martha I always assume the worst, and by "worst" I mean anything that is better than what I am capable of, and by "anything" I mean everything.)

Unfortunately, the afternoon of my would-be productive day was hijacked by a particularly vicious asthma attack.  After I'd more or less recovered, I decided I could still complete the notes for several of the Thank You's, this despite the fact that anything more than four hits off my inhaler makes my hands shake pretty bad.  I'm also halfway convinced albuterol somehow affects brain function, namely that it speeds it up, but not in a way that makes you good at debates or improv; instead it sends your brain down rarely-wandered paths at higher speeds than normal, then tells you to write it all down in this here letter you're sending to your Mom's husband's parents.  (Dear Dale and Mary:  I'm sorry.)

We still don't have all those notes done.  Valentines for school?  Yes.  Thank You's associated with Christmas?  Nope.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Humans Should All Just Hibernate Through Middle School

Here I was, all set to write a post about the new levels of disgusting-ness I was forced to explore today via our children's illness when I stopped and said to myself the thing I most often want to say to random strangers:  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  (I feel bad about this.  As a Christian I should probably most want to carry around a sign that says "Free Hugs" or something- although I shuddered just writing that.  Instead I most want to say "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."  I should re-think my life.  Some other time.)

Yes, even on the internet, just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  I thought about plunging on ahead anyway, but then realized that the only person who would have been able to bear to read it was my mom, because she's a middle school nurse.  Obviously as a nurse she's had to see all manner of vile human by-products, but I believe the true test of her mettle is her willingness to work with junior highers.  Have you seen those things?  I visited her office a couple years ago, which features a wide bank of windows looking out onto a main hallway.  Everything was going fine, just me, mom, and one of her co-workers chatting it up, when the bell rang, and then the Freak Parade began.  It was like being in a reverse kind of zoo, where all the frightening creatures are on the outside and you're afraid to tap on the glass lest you draw their attention.  A full third of them must have relied on sonar to navigate the hallway; there's no way they could have seen where they were going with all that greasy plumage hanging over the part of the face that I'm hoping contained human eyeballs.  And that was the "boys"!  (Those are intentional quotation marks, in case you were wondering.)

Look, I remember being a middle schooler.  It was awkward, and awful, and overall a little bit tragic.  I honestly don't know how my mom didn't flinch every time she saw me.  ("NGYAAAAH!  Oh.  Oh, it's just you, Kristy.  I thought one of the vet's experiments had escaped again."  At which point I snarled and cringed away from the sunlight.  Oh, how it burned!  And yes, we had a veterinarian who lived and practiced behind our house, but he never engaged in unlawful experimentation.  Not to my knowledge, at least.  It is a little curious how all our cats chose to end their lives right in front of his house.  Never mind that's where the highway is.)  But somehow time manages to distort even the most heinous of our memories, or you're like me and become awesome at compartmentalizing to a degree generally only shared by women named "Sybil."  Either way, memories of middle school are locked safely away, and you manage to convince yourself it wasn't so bad- until you visit a middle school as an adult and wonder why, with all our scientific advancements, we haven't figured out how to skip this whole stage of life entirely.

Sure, you have weirdos like my mom who talk about her subjects with amused affection, much the way this dog's owner likely speaks of her:

Pretty sure I saw this girl walking on two legs in that hallway.  She was sticking up for the really ugly ducklings.  (And I can make jokes like that because I would have loved to look this good in middle school.  If you knew me then, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  You have burned every photo of me from those years like we talked about, right?)

So even though years of working with cripplingly strange middle schoolers- oh, and sick people- may have inured my mother to stories like the one I was going to tell, I know that the rest of you would have had no choice but to leave this blog and never come back.

Good thing I found this supremely relevant tangent to write about, hmm?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Warning: The Word "Vomit" And Its Synonyms Appear A LOT In This Post

Yesterday afternoon, immediately after writing a blog post, I cleaned the bathroom downstairs, then headed upstairs to clean that bathroom.  I wish I could say this is regular practice- you know, daily bathroom disinfecting- but it's just not.  I've been especially vigilant about having clean bathrooms and doorknobs and such because this is what the smaller inhabitants of our house have been doing:

That's not just regular napping- that's vomit-recovery napping.  Thankfully the worst of Adelaide's illness occurred yesterday, and after spending the morning resting, she seems to have mostly recovered this afternoon.  Atticus, however, started up with the spewing last night, and, as of several hours ago, was still going strong, stomach contents ejection-wise.  

Back to the hyper-vigilant cleaning:  I went into the upstairs bathroom, happy I was getting all this done while both the boys were napping.  When I opened the toilet lid, however, I found something unexpected: a toilet bowl full of puke.  Why unexpected?  Because Atticus and Adelaide, my two pukers, had been downstairs throughout naptime.  Caedmon was the only kid upstairs, and thus far, he hadn't been sick.  Surely he would have cried out for me if he'd thrown up.  Surely he wouldn't have made it to the toilet.  

I was so excited.

Excited because I had a real live puke-ninja on my hands.  Do you know how accurate our kids' puke-aim is?  Not accurate at all.  Do you know how often our kids' prefer privacy when vomiting?  Almost never.  Yet here was proof that our three-year-old, of all people, had gotten up during his nap, by himself, thrown up in the toilet, then put himself back to bed.  Sure, he forgot to flush, and I'm positive he didn't wash his hands, but who the heck cares when you're the stealthiest puker in the house?

I realize how this sounds, okay?  I mean, who's thrilled to find a toilet full of puke in their house?  Someone who's desperately searching for silver linings, that's who.  Don't ruin it for me, friends.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Stir-craziness has set in.

I made it to February.  Yes, I had cabin fever before, but that's completely different from stir-crazy (because I say it is).

First of all, let's all agree that this is the longest winter ever.  Ever.  I'm pretty sure I say that every winter, but this time it's for real.  Longest. winter. ever.  (Until next winter, when it'll be for really reals.)

I am so desperate to get outside.  I look for any excuse.  Here, Adelaide, let me take that compost bowl out for you!  No, no, I'll get the trash, Atticus.  And the mail.  And anything else that gets me out of this house.

It doesn't help that Atticus has been doing this lately:

That's our five-year-old, shoveling the sidewalk.  And he's good at it.  And he loves to do it.  I let him try it the other day, thinking it'd be like last winter, where he'd shovel for ten minutes, get almost nothing done, then I'd get to take my turn and get some real outdoor exercise.  But nope:  apparently it's at the age of five when you suddenly come upon the strength and agility to shovel snow (keeping in mind this was only a few inches of light, fluffy snow.  But still.).

Thankfully, Atticus is sick today, which means I got to take a turn shoveling.  (And by "thankfully," I mean "unfortunately."  Mostly.)

There's a scene in one of the Bourne movies (I don't remember which, I think the second or third; I'm sure Derek knows, which is super helpful to you, I know) where Jason Bourne is in Russia for I don't remember what reason, and he's knocking on a door or something, and there's an old lady next door sweeping the snow off her front stoop.

I never really understood why she was doing that; I mean, it's Russia, for heaven's sake.  Any snow she sweeps off is going to be immediately replaced the next day, right?  Why bother?  

But then came this morning, when I spent close to an hour sweeping every last bit of snow off our front porch (for absolutely no reason; no one's going to be sitting on those rocking chairs until spring at least; unless, of course, you're this guy:

otherwise known as Derek-the-Iowa-native), then I shoveled our front sidewalk, which really didn't need to be shoveled at all, given that Derek had cleared it with the snow blower yesterday morning.  I was determined to be outside, however, (painfully) breathing in the frigid air as I scraped off the inch of snow the snow blower left behind.  

So now I think I understand the Russian lady sweeping her front stoop.  (Except I have no idea what it's like to actually live in Russia.  Details.)  It kind of reminds me of when I was pregnant with Adelaide, and more than anything else my middle of the night cravings were for fresh air.  Our neighborhood was relatively safe, but relatively safe isn't really good enough when you want to go for a two am walk, and we usually shrink-wrapped the living room windows for insulation, so I was left to crack the bedroom window just wide enough to force my nose and mouth through the slit, greedily inhaling the winter air, trying not to let the room get so cold it woke Derek up.  

Hey, that kind of makes me feel better:  I may be going stir-crazy, but at least I'm not pregnant!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


You know, most days you feel like you're doing a fair to above average job of raising your kids.  Then along comes yesterday morning, you arrive at your kid's preschool, walk in the door, and hear several people laugh and exclaim over the Captain America mask that it turns out your youngest is apparently wearing over his face.  (How did I get through the morning thus far without ever looking at my son's face?)  Then your other son takes off his coat and it turns out he's wearing his younger brother's obviously too small shirt.  (How did I get through the morning thus far without looking at my other son's clothing and/or his proudly displayed belly button?)  He looked like nothing else so much as Spike from the movie Notting Hill when he's wearing a too-small shirt and eating yogurt that is actually mayonnaise, except without the obviously British face.

Then, when it's time to pick your daughter up after school, and your boys beg to walk to the bus stop, you say sure, okay, it's only a block away, let's get some exercise, I've been saying 'no' to the both of you quite a bit today, it feels good to say 'yes' for once, let's walk to that bus stop.  And the walk there is fine, but the buses are about ten minutes later than normal, no big deal, except when you're the mother who lets her three- and five-year-olds make important decisions like whether to walk or drive to the bus stop when the temp is right around zero and the wind chill is negative infinity and you're at the bus stop two hours earlier than normal because there's been an early dismissal due to the winter storm that's starting to blow through right about now.

Atticus was more or less fine, but poor Caedmon was huddled against me, pressing his face to my stomach to protect it from the wind and trying to shove his mittened hands into his coat pockets for added warmth.  When Adelaide finally got there, we began the trudge home (and may I just note how much faster our children are when they're freezing to death), the wind blowing snow in our faces.  Cade began to cry about halfway home- he never stopped his forward march, though- and presented a pretty pathetic picture, crying, high-stepping through the snow, huddled in on himself, trying to make himself as small a target as possible for the brutal wind.  When we got home, he quickly stripped all his outer gear off, walked up the stairs, burrowed under the covers on his bed, and went straight to sleep.  (Uh-oh, did I just find a new experimental treatment for night terrors?  Should we be putting Atticus into freezing conditions to put him back to sleep?)  (I'M KIDDING.  We are not going to freeze our kid to death.)  

Thankfully, Derek was home this morning and Adelaide's home sick from school, so no one's in any real danger today.  Probably.