Sunday, August 28, 2011

Things To Do: Write New Blog...

I'm a list maker.  I think I always have been.  To-do lists, grocery lists, wish lists.  I've made them all.  When I was a kid I had a list of homework assignments and when they were due.  When planning my kids birthday party I make a list of all the supplies I'll need including special plates and napkins and what kind of food I'll be serving.  I have a Christmas Card list, an Address List, a list of frequently called phone numbers, and an long list of bills that need to be paid.  I find the list a very helpful tool in life.

Every fall I make an extensive list of gifts that is several pages long.  Between the months of September and March my family celebrates nine birthdays plus Christmas.  In order to avoid missing someone's birthday or spending more on one person for Christmas than another, I make a list of all the gifts I've purchased, who they are for, how much they cost, if they're a birthday or Christmas gift, the total that I've spent on that person, and if the gift has been wrapped yet.  Some people make fun of my list making, but nobody has ever been lacking a gift!

My most recent list was a packing list.  No, I didn't go on vacation.  I made a packing list for all of the things I needed to bring with me to spend the day with my husband and three children at the New York State Fair in Syracuse.  Yup.  A whopping hour-and-a-half away from my house.  The list took up an entire page from a yellow legal pad and was organized into six categories: First Aid, Backpack, Diaper Bag, Car, Cooler and Snacks with an additional check box to indicate if the items were loaded into the car.  Don't believe me?  Here's the list with each item checked off as I packed it!
Notice that "Antibacterial Hand Gel" is written in several places.  I had some stashed in each bag.

You may mock my extensive list.  Many have and I'm sure that many more will through the years.  My husband laughs that I pack band-aids and neosporin whenever I leave the house.  But do you know who doesn't laugh?  The little excited kid who runs too fast and and falls and skins their knee and needs a band-aid, that's who!  You know who else?  The lady in the next stall in the Ladies room who has a blister on the back of her heel only to discover that her friend doesn't have a band-aid either.  That's right.  Those people were grateful for my obsessive compulsion to plan for every possible disaster for a day at the park.  Everybody laughs that I pack things like salt and pepper in the cooler, but I didn't hear my husband complaining when he had a nice bottle of horseradish to squirt onto his roast beef sandwich.  And I think we can all agree that it would have been a long ride home without the kid's stuffed monkey, Taggie, and Barney in the car waiting for them after a long day out in the sun.

So this is for all you closet list makers out there.  Boldly write your lists for all to see, be it on magnetic refrigerator pads, Post-It Notes, legal pads, or even on the back of your hand.  People may mock us, but we know what we're doing.  After all, we have a list!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Muscle Car

I sat at the traffic light in my bright yellow 1967 Chevy Camaro.  The throaty rumble of the engine as it idled filled the air and it spoke to me.  "Yeah," it said, "I look awesome.  And you look awesome in me."

It was true.  I did look awesome.  The noon-day sun reflected off the chrome finish, blinding anyone who dared to gaze at my resplendence.  When the light turned green, I pressed my foot to the floor and took off like a shot leaving nothing but a cloud of dust in my wake.

I drove for miles as the wind whipped through my hair, engine roaring.  There was nothing but me and the road.  I slowed down as I approached another traffic light.  Any other day I would have plowed right through the red light, daring any law enforcement to even attempt to catch up with me.  But today I wanted to make sure everybody saw me. 

Heads turned at the rumble of the engine.  Passers-by nodded in approval.  The sun shone bright on my face and the warm breeze tousled my hair.  I closed my eyes and breathed in the sweet summer air. 

As I slowly opened my eyes I was violently dragged back into reality when a sippy cup hit me in the head.  The top flew off and cranberry juice splashed everywhere turning my minivan into what looked like a grizzly crime scene.  The rumble still filled the air, but I sank low in my seat as I noticed people staring at my 2000 Windstar that was shaking from the growling engine.  I sank my head in shame.  When the light turned green I said a little prayer and rocked myself back and forth willing the van to move forward and pick up speed.  I pressed the gas pedal to the floor, reaching a top speed of 25 miles per hour in about thirty seconds. 

Reality stinks.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's How Dinner Is Done!

I set off the smoke detector while making dinner tonight.  This used to be a fairly regular occurrance in my house growing up.  In fact, we used to tease my Mother and joke that dinner wasn't done until the smoke detector went off.  It hasn't happened to me personally in quite a while and, even though only my kids witnessed me looking like a buffoon, it was pretty embarrassing.  This is clearly one of those moments my Mom warned me about when she said, "Just wait until you <fill in the blank>," and I know she is reading this with a contented smile on her face.

I've been making my own bread for the past month or so because I've become frustrated at paying nearly $3 for a loaf of bread that is half gone after one lunch with my kids.  I've been pretty successful with the bread so for dinner tonight I decided to move on to pizza crust.  I even have a pizza stone that I have never actually used but is carefully wrapped in a kitchen towel in the bottom of my cabinet.  I pulled out the instructions that came with the stone and it recommended sprinkling corn meal on it to keep the pizza from sticking and warming it up on the bottom rack of the oven. 

This was bad advice, but not right away.  At first there was a very pleasant smell that made my kids run into the kitchen and yell, "What's for dinner?"  About two minutes after that, black smoke started rolling out of the oven and the smoke detector started to wail.  I pulled out the stone and dumped the ashes of corn meal into the sink while I frantically turned on fans and opened windows.  All the while, my kids were yelling, "Stay low and go!!  Stay low and go!!"  After opening the front door they all clamored out onto the porch and were grabbing at my shirt as I went back into the house.  "Don't go back in, Mama!"

I grabbed the thickest magazine that was nearby, Wegman's Menu, and began furiously waving it at the smoke detector.  "It's okay, kids!  Just a little smoke!"  I tried to assure them.  After a few minutes the smoke cleared and I was finally able to convince the kids to come back inside the house.

At least I know they remembered the fire safety rules from the State Fair.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Linen Closet

My linen closet is a disaster.  Towels are shoved in, bottles of shampoo are tipped over, there are a large number of outdated nail polish jars teetering on the edge of the shelf.  And don't get me started on the various medicine bottles. For an area that was originally intended for sheets and towels, there's an awful lot of other junk in there.  It's a mess.  If you don't believe me, take a look at this.

Messy Linen Closet

It's been like this for quite some time and I've just worked around the mess by quickly shoving towels in and slamming the door shut before something else got pushed out.  But for some reason, last night was as long as I could take it.  Maybe it's due to a growing sense of a complete lack of control over anything in my life, but while my three kids were in the bathroom brushing their teeth before bed I decided that it was the perfect time to empty out the first two shelves of the linen closet and reorganize.  I mean, how bad could the top two shelves really be?  It's not like I really use them.  What could possibly be up there?

The medicines are particularly jumbled... and expired.
Top Two Shelves, Before Picture

What could possibly be up there?  Aside from the basics, (band-aids, cotton balls, Q-Tips, and expired medicines) here's what:
  • At least a dozen of those plastic bags with zippers that sheets, blankets and comforters come in.  I had a vision of making all sorts of crocheted blankets and keeping them fresh and clean in these bags.  Surprise, surprise, this never happened.  Just another one of my bag issues.
  • A Homedics back massager, which looks like some sort of heavy duty torture device.  Mike remembers using it at our apartment before we had kids.  I don't know.  It's really heavy.  Maybe I'll keep it handy to fight off intruders.
  • Some sort of gigantic Conair machine that is supposed to turn your bathtub into a relaxing Jacuzzi.  Now this I remember using... once.  It didn't attach to the tub correctly and ended up falling in and nearly breaking my leg. 
  • Breast pads from when I had my daughter in 2003.  Why I felt I might need to save these, I have no idea.
  • Tiny little soaps and shampoos from Disney World.  The last time we went to Disney was our honeymoon ten years ago.  I don't think I can bring myself to toss out anything with those ears on it.
  • A full bottle of Nair for Men.  ??? 
  • Three different brands of nearly full tooth whitening systems.  Apparently I have often wished for whiter looking teeth, but can't be bothered with those messy strips.  That must be when I moved on to whitening toothpaste.
  • A lint roller.  Just the roller.  No tape.  So really, some sort of weird, inefficient whisk type device.
  • Four packages of opened razors.
  • Three different sized baby aspirators.  Or, as I refer to them, Boogie Snatchers.
  • A gallon jug of shampoo.  No conditioner in sight. 
  • Three huge boxes of tampons.  That should last me a while.
  • Some sort of plastic ring with suction cups.  We couldn't quite remember what it's function was but it had something to do with the bathtub.
  • 29 bottles of nail polish.
Discovering these items right before bedtime was a bad idea.  As soon as the tooth brushing was over I was bombarded with questions of "What's this? What's this thing do? Why do you have this?"  My response was the same for all three questions; "I have no idea." 

The worst thing I found was a box of Crayola Soap Scribblers.  It's soap shaped like crayons.  The idea is that the kids can color themselves and the tub walls and it will all wash off, lickety split, because after all, it's just soap... right?  WRONG!  It comes off of the kids okay, but there is about 45 minutes of scrubbing before you can get it off the walls, the tub, the shower curtain, and the floor.  I remember having something similar when I was a kid.  I would always beg my mom to let me use it and she never would.  I couldn't understand it at the time, but I get it now.  Sorry Mom.

Once I got everything off of the top two shelves I had to decide what to do with it all.  I threw enough junk out to fill a full sized Hefty bag, including a whole bunch of expired medicine.  I know, there's something else that I'm supposed to do with expired medicine, but quite frankly I don't have time to try and figure out where to drop them off.  So all the junkies can come raid my trash can.  At least I didn't flush them (which is a whole other blog.  I don't know what's more disturbing, that flushed medicine ends up in our drinking water or that what we FLUSH ends up with the drinking water!  Just another reason for me to drink bottled water, I guess.)

Anyhow, I managed to get the top two shelves put back together in a more organized way.

Top Two Shelves, After

I was hoping it would look a lot different.  Only four more shelves to go.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rainy Memories

It's raining, and it's raining hard as evidenced by the water that is rushing in underneath my porch door as it tends to do in heavy rain.  So off I go with one of the bright orange ShamWow towels purchased in bulk from the State Fair last year guaranteed to soak up all that water from the floor in a jiffy.  Although I have watched countless infomercials and witnessed endless demonstrations at the Fair, I can't seem to get the darn towels to soak up much of anything, let alone an entire 2-liter bottle of soda.  (Yeah, I said "soda."  My husband is from Syracuse and he's been a bad influence on me.  I know it's really called pop, but I've grown weary of the argument and have decided to humor him.)
Some people get so upset when it rains.  I don't mind it so much.  Rain smells clean and fresh most of the time.  And for some reason I seem to have a lot of happy memories in the rain.  When I was a teenager I was on a walk with a boyfriend when we got caught in a sudden sun shower.  We started to run for shelter but realized we were already soaked, so instead we jumped in puddles like a couple of little kids.  It was really fun. 

When I was dating my husband we went to the Park Ave Fest.  When we were as far away from the car as possible a horrible storm hit and we were instantly soaked by torrents of rain so strong that I had to cover my face so my contact lenses wouldn't get washed out of my eyes.  Mike took me by the arm and we strolled through the downpour.  People screamed and ran for cover, tents blew over, I remember seeing a hot dog wash down the road between my feet that got me laughing uncontrollably, but we strolled.  While some people grumbled that the storm had ruined the festival and their whole day, I was just happy that I had decided to put the roof back on the Thunderbird before we started out.  Convertibles do not make good swimming pools.

I have been to the State Fair every one of my 35 years.  My family used to hitch our old pop-up camper to the back of the station wagon and camp at the KOA not too far from the fairgrounds.  We would camp and visit the fair for several days at a time, and drive past the "stinky turkey" farm on the way there.  No matter what the weather report said, we would always bring our umbrellas for the first day we were at the fair.  It would ALWAYS rain on the first day.  I liked the rain at the fair.  It forced people into the buildings leaving the roadways clear to browse the various junk tents without bumping into everybody.  And when we would return to our camper I was lulled to sleep by the patter of rain on canvas.  My Dad would warn me not to touch the canvas or it would leak, and every year I would test that hypothesis.  It leaked.  Every time.  I'm sure it irritated Dad, but it was just another tradition like gobbling at the stinky turkeys and mooing at the cows.  Even the year that a tornado touched down and pulled the roof off the 4-H building, we still had a good time.

Just so that you don't think I've gone perpetually optimistic, I would like to point out my slight irritation that I can't hang my laundry outside because of the rain.  Folding the laundry inside isn't as nice or refreshing as folding it out in the bright sunshine and warm breezes.  Plus, I don't like my laundry room.  I dream of someday having a crisp, white, clean smelling laundry room and not what I currently have; a dark, dirty corner of the basement with a spider infestation that my husband is purposely keeping in an attempt to lower the population of even creepier bugs in the house.  Also, we're all trapped in the house, the kids found some kazoos, and I'm pretty much going insane.

So, it's raining now.  And I don't really mind it.  I'll sit by the window and listen to the pitter-patter as nature waters my neglected garden and leaves the air smelling fresh and clean.  In the meantime, I have to sop up the giant puddle on my porch.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thor the Wonder Dog

My sister has a dog. She got it a few months ago. This has caused a problem in my house. You see, Thor, the blue Chihuahua, is adorable. He's tiny and soft and could probably fit in some of my larger purses. He likes to run and jump and will sit in your lap when he's tired.  I admit I have held his little face in my hands and used baby talk on more than one occasion.

Thor the Wonder Dog with Mya, Alyssa & Emily.

You can see for yourself how stinking cute he is! This is where the problem comes in. When my kids see their friends or cousins with something cute, adorable, and seemingly fun, they can't help but pester us for the same thing.

I don't want a dog. I admit I wanted a dog when I was a kid, but my mother convinced us that she was allergic and that having a dog would kill her. That turned out not to be entirely true, but it was enough to keep us from pestering her for a dog quite as much. It's an angle I'm considering using.

There are several reasons that I don't want a dog, none of them being that I don't like dogs. I really do enjoy other people's dogs for the same reason I enjoy other people's babies. Namely because I can give them back when I begin to find them annoying. That is something you can't do with your own kids... I mean dogs!!

One reason I don't want a dog is that I have noticed, not in every case, but for the most part you can tell a person owns a dog as soon as you step foot in their house. Dogs have a special kind of stink. Now, my sister's house does not smell like dog and I promised to tell her if it ever became a stink hole. I doubt I will ever smell dog in her house because she follows the dang thing around with antibacterial wipes. My sister and I are not a lot alike. I do not have the energy or desire to follow an animal around cleaning up after it. I barely clean up after my own three human kids. My kitchen floor is in a constant sticky state.  I don't imagine a dog would help with that.

Another reason a dog is out of the question is that, like many goldfish before, I will be the one who ends up taking care of it. And unlike fish, dogs will bark when they're hungry, neglected, or swimming around in their own funk. This is really my main objection to a furry pet and the reason I am trying to convince my kids that a lizard or a snake would be just as fun as Thor the Wonder Dog.

So far I haven't been able to convince the girls that a reptile is a cool pet. For that matter, my husband is not on board either. That might be because as I was falling asleep one night I promised that I wouldn't train the snake to kill him in the middle of the night. Let me explain... no, that will take too long. Let me sum up. I had just finished reading a Sherlock Holmes story called "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." In the story a man trained a poisonous snake to climb into his daughter's bed and administer a lethal bite before returning to him in his own locked room. In my sleepy state I wanted to reassure my husband that my suggestion of getting a snake was not for nefarious reasons.  I don't think I put his mind at ease since he had not read the story and had no idea what I was talking about.  I suppose the sentiment of, "I promise not to kill you in your sleep," isn't conducive to a good night's rest. 

The final reason that I do not want a dog is that my son is not potty trained.  I can only handle one creature at a time pooping inside my house.  My little guy, as cute as he is, can make a horrible smell.  He is the main reason that I went to my friend's Scentsy party and bought one of those flameless candles with the pretty smelling wax.  It's remarkably effective and has added to the quality of life in my house.

But not enough to get a dog.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stream of Consciousness

I don't have a lot to say today.  Which is weird, because I always have something to say about just about everything.  I'm one of those people who likes to put her two cents in.  But today... nada.

My husband ended up staying home from work today due to the sleep deprivation caused by our screaming son last night.  It was horrible.  There was nothing wrong with him.  He just didn't want to be asleep so, apparently, neither could we.  He finally fell asleep in bed with us.

It always amazes me how much space a tiny person can take up in a queen-sized bed.  Any parent can attest to this phenomenon.  You would think a 30-inch person would be able to fit right in such a big bed.  But not so.  What happens when you have a baby in your bed, even a teeny, tiny newborn baby, is that there is this giant bubble that forms around them and pushes both adults to the very edge, almost to the point of falling out of bed.  (I admit, with one of my kids, I can't remember which, I actually did fall out of bed because they were taking up so much room.)  I don't know if it's because as parents we don't want to accidentally squish our kids in our sleep so we move ourselves to the edge, or if it's the awful feeling of baby toes digging violently into your ribs in the middle of the night that send us teetering on the edge.

My kids were playing on the teeter-totter attached to the swing set in our backyard.  My almost five-year-old and my two-year-old were perfectly balanced.  I don't know if that's an indication that I over-feed my baby, or under-feed my kindergartener.

I finally pulled all the carrots out of my garden.  Since, according to the seed packet, they were supposed to be full grown about two weeks ago, I figured they had grown as much as they could.  Most of them were as thin as dental floss, but there were a few that were relatively fat and about three or four inches long.  Regardless of how big they are, they smell great and are surprisingly flavorful.  I guess I'll try to make carrot muffins or puree them and mix them into sauce or something.

I made homemade bread yesterday and today.  It's really very easy to make, especially since I just dump the ingredients into a zip lock bag and smoosh them up.  Fewer dishes that way.  Besides, the absolute worst part of baking is cleaning up afterwards. 

I've been hanging my laundry outside to dry for the past couple of weeks.  I've only turned on my dryer twice in that time, mostly because I don't like my underwear dangling from a string in the yard for all the neighbors to see.  It's just weird.  Also, the clothes are kinda stiff from a lack of fabric softener and quite frankly, I don't want crispy undies.

I guess if I just let my stream of consciousness flow I have more to say than I thought.  I suppose that doesn't necessarily make it worth reading.  But if that's the case, we'll blame it on my lack of sleep.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Graham Cracker is NOT a Cookie

I recently got an email with a teaser line about making “Quick and Easy Donuts at Home!”  Well, how could I pass up reading more about making a delicious confection that was so quick and easy?  I clicked on the link and was directed to a recipe for "donuts" that involved cutting a hole in the center of a refrigerated buttermilk biscuit, deep frying it and then sprinkling it with confectioner’s sugar.  Now, I like biscuits, they don’t even need to be homemade for me to appreciate them, but a biscuit, even a deep-fried one, is not a donut.  Not by a long shot, my friend.

When I was a little kid my Mom was in a bowling league.  Every Saturday while the moms bowled the kids would be sent down to the basement of the bowling alley to the day care.  (There is either a horror movie or a 20/20 special in there somewhere.)  Anyhow, while in the basement of the bowling alley the baby sitters would roll out these nasty old mats and make all of the kids lie down and take a nap.  A nap… in a bowling alley… with bowling balls and falling pins above our heads.  Really?  Even at the age of 4 or 5 I knew this was a fruitless effort.  Even an exhausted child isn’t going to sleep well under a bowling alley!

The highlight of this weekly misadventure was always snack time.  Once we got popsicles.  Sometimes we got chocolate chip cookies.  There was one woman who made the promise of cookies, but it was always a disappointment.  After lying on the nasty mats for what seemed like an eternity we would be called to the endless row of folding tables for a cookie. 

She called it a cookie, but it was a graham cracker. It wasn't even the kind of graham cracker with cinnamon and sugar on it.  Just a plain old cracker. One day she held out the graham cracker to me and asked, “Would you like a cookie?”  I replied, “I would like a cookie, but this isn’t one.  It’s a graham cracker.”  She told me that a graham cracker is like a cookie.  I don’t remember if I actually voiced my disagreement with her statement or if I just thought, “I don’t know what the heck you’ve been eating all your life, but this is not a cookie!”  Either way, my mom didn’t bowl much after that day.

It’s been about 30 years since the bowling alley incident, but my belief is as firm today as it was then; No matter how it crumbles, a graham cracker is not a cookie.