Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the case of the creeping crud

the handsome man and i finally broke down and bought a stereo cabinet, six months after moving into our new house. i hated to spend the money after the poop-chute debacle (and finding out we need $2,500 worth of insulation, and $1,200 of furnace repair). but i missed my music, and i was losing my tiny little mind not hearing another adult voice during the day. i needed cds. i needed npr.

so we got a lovely little number from ikea: long, low, holds the equipment and a ton of cds. we put it in the dining room so it can double as a sideboard.

and that's when it happened.

little things started to accumulate on the surface of it: mail, place mats, receipts, ipods, iphone, digital cameras, and cords, cords, cords to various techie devices. (guess what industry the handsome man works in?) this morning, the "goddamit" factor also included ear buds, ear buds case (separated, of course), and another laptop computer, which seem to breed like bunnies around here.

i knew i needed to, as my friend used to say when she was a kid, nip this in the butt.

background: my crazy great-aunt had a 3-story mansion complete with ballroom. she was the type who started at the back of a room and filled it to the door with you name it: old calendars, jars of twist ties, anything, everything. when that room was full, she closed the door and moved onto the next one. it took my weary parents untold weekends lugging out 90 garbage bags at a shot to clear that effer out.

background 2: when my grandmother was declining (aka being found wandering in a daze with light bulbs in her pockets), she moved from her largish house to a small apartment...taking everything with her. the living room looked like a furniture showroom, with sofas and armchairs lined up at attention in rows.

background 3: my mother-in-law has 30 years of gourmet magazine in her basement. 'nuff said.

that pack rat gene runs deep in the handsome man. when we moved, i had to literally stand over him as he went through his stuff to get him to throw crap out. and by "crap" i mean things like articles he cut out of popular photography 15 years ago:

me: "why are you saving those?"

him: "well...i might want to refer to them someday."

me: "have you?"

him: silence, the look

me: "you know, you seem like kind of a computer-savvy guy. there's this thing i've heard of called the internet? where you can look stuff up?"

him: silence, the look, slowly begins to throw articles away

it was the same packing up old books in the attic to donate. do we really need an airport guide from 1987? (the handsome man is also a private pilot.)

and, like his mother does, he can't just say yes or no. he has to tell me the entire provenance and history of each book: where he got it, when he got it, what it was about, if he finished it or not. I DO NOT CARE! just tell me up or down, in or out, yea or nay, does it stay or does it go?!

because here's the problem with pack-rattiness: keeping everything is the same as keeping nothing, because you are so inundated by stuff you can't find what you need or want. remove the haystack, and your odds of finding the needle are mucho better.

so i am NOT going through the creeping crud again. this house is twice as big as our old one, and i shudder to think how many mystery cords it could conceivably contain. that's why i have begun a new campaign of vigilance, which includes throwing something out every day and dumping all his little crapola in his top dresser drawer.

(hey, i could be a new cartoon superhero: look! there in the dining room! it's the tidier and her magical ever-expanding garbage bag! need to think about a sidekick now.)

epilogue: last week, i caught him cutting articles out of the most recent pop photo. beware the tidier, my pet. bewaaaaare...

Monday, January 28, 2008

gas leak

holy ambien, batman!

the girls and i just woke up from a THREE-HOUR NAP! wtf? granted, they are growing little beans, and i haven't slept since 2003.

but still, i think i'd better check the house for gas leaks...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

more baby haters

the cruel names bestowed on warm, leaky, unsuspecting little bags of love continue to abound:
  • maverick (seen in the newspaper)
  • bison (from my friend kathy's daughter's school)
  • yahinnus (say it out loud a couple times; think royalty)
  • chardonnay, chablis and champagne (mommy apparently had a drinky problem)

not nice, people. not nice at all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

why do you hate the baby?

parents have lost their minds. besides the relentless activities (piano lessons at 4, soccer team at 3, swimming lessons as a gamete), there is the name thing.

people: your children are not little canvases upon which to express your creativity, coolness, whimsy or college major.

here is a brief selection of some names i've heard for the wee folk:
  • ophelia
  • azurite
  • klassy (with a k)
  • ulysses
  • cassius (whitest kid you ever saw)
  • trout (yes, like the fish)
  • mox (no, that's not a typo)
  • prema banke (which i believe means love lord krisna in sanscrit and would be a perfectly fine name had the child not been the spawn of pasty minnesota lutherans named mary and tom who taught at the meditation center where i used to do yoga. prema banke now goes by sam; his mother can't understand why.)
and my all-time favorite, ezra hullabaloo.

as my friend, who is a labor and delivery nurse and thus hears all the names, says, "why do you hate the baby?"

how rude

i hate winter with every corpuscle in my body. no one – with the possible exception of my friend, julie – hates it more. i cope by doing the polar fleece/long underwear/hot cocoa/complaining thing.

but here's what i do not do: i do not park in the mobility-impaired spaces when i pick my kid up from preschool.

perhaps there's been some dispensation regarding the big, red-lettered don't park here, and yes, this means you, jackass sign that i don't know about. perhaps some mommies justify to themselves that, "i'll just be here a minute." perhaps they consider minus 11 temperatures an impairment (i know i do).

whatever. it's wrong because: a) there are real mobility-impaired folks coming in and out of preschool who need the spots; b) it sends a crummy message to kids; and c) it's rude.

oh, and d) it makes me crabby.

too harsh?

i really, really need it to get warmer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

day five: hanging on

of course our garage door opener broke the night before my husband left on his snowboarding trip.

of course it did.

so for the past five days, every time the ladies and i have needed to leave or return home in air so cold it makes your nostrils snap shut and freeze when you breath in, here's what i've had to do:
  1. strap two wiggly girls into their car seats without benefit of any sensation in my fingers
  2. gently place a double-thick polar fleece lap robe over each little principessa ("i'm coooold! i'm coooold!")
  3. back the minivan (sexy) out of the garage
  4. get out of the minivan
  5. yank on the (old, rotted, ripped) cord on the inside of the garage door
  6. when garage door fails to move, get up on stool (did i mention i'm 5'2"? i'm 5'2"), grab the emergency release cable dangling from ceiling, and yank over and over again until my arm gives out
  7. eventually get the door released and slide it closed
  8. get back in the minivan
  9. curse silently and prolifically in my head

today, when i was clambering back into the van (hard to walk when you can't feel your feet), josie said, "why were you dancing around like a little monkey?"

and inside my head, i made a whole fleet of sailors blush.

Monday, January 21, 2008

me no hablo toddler

what we have here is a failure to communicate:

toddler: "mommy, can you help me find the strawberries in my yogurt?"

me: "there aren't any big strawberries, honey, just tiny pieces of strawberries."


toddler: "mommy, can you help me find the strawberries in my yogurt?"

me: "there aren't any, honey."


toddler: "mommy, can you help me find the strawberries in my yogurt?"

repeat approximately 500 times, with toddler's voice growing louder and slower and more insistent each time:

toddler: "MOMMY! CAN you... HELP me... FIND... the STRAWberries... in my... YOGURT?!"

it's like she's the tiniest ugly american and i'm a street vendor in paris, and she's convinced that if she just yells at me enough times with enough volume, i'll stop pretending i don't understand her and give her a damn diet coke, already.

toddler: "MOMMY! CAN... YOU... HELP... ME... FIND... THE... STRAWBERRIES... IN... MY... YOGURT!?!"

(long pause)

me: "just eat the yogurt."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

day three: we're having a heat wave

it was only minus 9 when the ladies and i got up this morning, a big improvement over yesterday's minus 14. global warming, my ass – not here in minnesota.  

so to pass more time indoors, i've broken out some new playdough for the girls (24 colors! all ground into my floor now.) and created a new blog feature to amuse myself: days without injury. kind of like they do on construction work sites, which are apparently much safer than my living room. we had an entire two dozen hours without injury yesterday; let's see what today holds...

Friday, January 18, 2008

day one: i think it's going well

my husband left yesterday afternoon for a six-day snowboarding trip out west. and of course, because it's mlk weekend, it's ass-cracking cold in minneapolis the forecast tomorrow is for a high of minus 3. so i'm puttin' on my momma hat to think of fun ways to keep the girls and me warm, amused and intact until wednesday.

day one has gone swimmingly, as you can see. 

(yes, that is her blood all over the shirt. she busted her lip open fooling around in her chair at lunchtime with her sister. bled like a mutha all over her, and me, and the floor, and the kitchen table and chairs, which i have since hauled down to the basement and replaced with their smaller, hopefully safer kiddie table and chairs from the playroom. it's amazing how invigorating anger is.) 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

dream a little dream

my four-year-old and i were discussing careers. i explained how mommy writes for money, daddy fixes computers, our friend julie helps people at the hospital have tiny babies, paige's daddy makes art, etc.

josie pondered this for a while and then asked me what she will do for money when she's big. in my best baby-einstein, fruit-juice-sweetened voice, i said, "you get to decide – what do you want to do, honey?"

she thought for a few seconds, then smiled brightly and said, "hold knives!"

i sleep with one eye open from now on...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

entrepreneurship in motion

so thing two and i are driving to preschool to pick up thing one, and towards us comes a truck that barrels through a stop sign. didn't slow down a tad, and it's not like the stop sign was obscured or new. good thing folks on the cross street heeded their big, red warnings.

as the truck flew by, i looked at the sign painted on its side:  dent-b-gone dent removal service.

interesting business strategy – create your own customers.

webster's, take note

i know there's an annual list of new words created by melding two existing words. here are some possible submissions for 2008, coined by my kidlets and friend:

prin•kly [prin-klee] adjective – pruny and wrinkly:  "mommy, my hands are all prinkly from the bathtub!" 

hug•gle [hug-uhl] noun - hug and snuggle:  "please huggle me in my bed."

crap•pe•ti•zers [crap-i-tahy-zers] noun - crappy appetizers:  "every christmas, my stepmother serves the same tasteless crappetizers."

Friday, January 11, 2008

new from hasbro

pimp my little pony.™

(i do so love having daughters.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

why do we buy them any toys at all?

this is what my daughter has been doing for the past hour:  scattering cotton balls around the house and then excitedly urging her sister and me to go on a "cotton ball hunt!"

the other day, the two of them spent the entire afternoon in laundry basket boats with spatula oars, cruising to exotic ports of call.

next year for christmas? q-tips, old grocery bags, and dirt. there, i'm all set for '08.

call me jenny einstein

i recently read about absolute zero in smithsonian magazine. absolute zero is the coldest conceivable temperature known to physicists:  minus 459.67 degrees. one scientist experimenting with a contraption to approach absolute zero has managed to stop light, which normally travels about a gazillion (ok, 186,171) miles per second. she likens it to "hurling a baseball into a pillow."

i think i unwittingly conducted a similar experiment today, but instead of using a maze with tiny mirrors and laser beams, i used a crabby toddler and a grocery store. 

said toddler wept and whined during the entire journey: into the store, up the aisles, down the aisles, through checkout and bagging, and back into the minivan. this caused time to slow down until it ground to a complete standstill at precisely 10:17 a.m. i know because that is when i began to feel my brains leaking out of my ears; you remember a thing like that.

i may not be a crack scientist, but i came away from this experiment having gained precious knowledge:  never shop with your children if you value the precarious time-space-sanity continuum known as motherhood.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

binge and purge

ah, the holidays: time of bloated excess. not just my butt, mind you, but my children's coffers of toys. un-freaking-believable how much stuff those two little monkeys have accumulated.

so today, with thing one and thing two safely out of the house, i conducted my traditional post-christmas cleansing. both playrooms, the girls' room, even the bathroom toy bucket – not a one was safe from my fierce talons and slightly maniacal eyes.

i moved some items into long-term storage (aka hid them) to pull out on a snowy/rainy/106 degree summer day. 

and others – 9 heftys worth of stuffed animals, dolls, puzzles, books, games, baby gear, plus assorted kid and adult clothing, an end table, and a rug – have been snagged, bagged and tagged for the glue factory. what catharsis! 

actually, 8 of the bags will go to the association for retarded citizens (arc) in minneapolis, which sells them to generate funds for its programs. and 1 bag is for my buddy the owner of sovereign grounds, the coffee-shop-slash-indoor-playground in our old neighborhood that has saved my sanity many times. everybody's a wiener, as my friend pegga says.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

geekiest possible injury

tennis elbow, runner's knee, swimmer's ear:  step aside and make way for...crossword shoulder.

i guess it's time to lay off the new york times for a while. i'll miss you, will shortz. *sniff*

Friday, January 4, 2008

no? just me?

ever yell at your kids so loud you hurt your throat?

um, me neither.

books i'll probably never finish reading

  • the rule of four
  • the beekeeper's apprentice
  • headlong
  • the omnivore's dilemma
for more on this topic, see:  i am not an intellectual.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

speaking of bacon

the handsome man made pancakes and pig for dinner last night. this morning, while tidying up the kitchen, i noticed just how revolting our stove top had become in the 4-1/2 months we've lived in our new house. i've been telling myself that running the burner grates, etc. through the dishwasher was cleaning them, but really all it seems to have done is heat-seal on the grease. 

so i rung in 2008 by scrubbing that sucker with an sos pad for an hour. and then, since i was on a roll, i also scrubbed the counters and cleaned out the fridge and freezer. who has more fun that me? (everyone.) take that, dick clark!

now we could eat off the stove. which could be an option because i don't plan on actually using it to cook after all my slaving. or maybe i'll use the nifty splatter cover my mother-in-law turned me on to, since the nitrate-laden meats are a favorite around here and i don't think i'll be able to enforce a complete moratorium.

speaking of which, here's what thing one consumed for lunch today:  yogurt, cheese, salami, and a hot dog. yes, protein girl/the dairy princess takes after her father's people. thing two's tastes are more in line with mine; she lunched on soy yogurt, cucumbers, and an apple. to paraphrase popeye, we yam who we yam.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

bacon is a condiment

did you know that? i didn't until dining with my husband's family during the holidays. here's where the scrumptious, salt-laden meat turned up:
  • on carrots
  • in salads (plural)
  • with brussels sprouts
  • and just by itself
bacon – it's the new ketchup!