Category Archives: Uncategorized

Things I Continue to Love

Things I continue to love, year after year:

Bath & Body Works lavender-vanilla scent. I just searched “lavender vanilla” in my archives, to see if I could find when I first mentioned it: 2007, when I was pregnant with Henry and was having trouble sleeping. Henry is turning 10 this year, and I just placed another order for lavender-vanilla lotion and body wash (Bath & Body Works is having a buy-1-get-1-free sale). I wish so hard I could still buy the shampoo/conditioner, but they discontinued it ages ago; I bought a whole bunch of the conditioner on eBay and I try to USE it and not hoard it. I have sniffed many, many bottles of things marked “lavender vanilla” but I ONLY like the Bath & Body Works one; and I like NO other scents from Bath & Body Works. I would never have found it except that Paul’s sister gave me a gift set one Christmas, I think when I was pregnant with the twins or maybe the Christmas after they were born.

Sense and Sensibility, the version with Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson. A few years ago I was studying some Jane Austen as a way to dig myself out of crippling boredom. (Here is my syllabus for Sense and Sensibility, if you want to do the same.) I still had the movie on hand, and… This sentence needs to start again, because it is several sentences: We usually watch tv while we eat dinner, and Paul is in charge of selecting what we’re going to watch. Earlier this week, he said he was out of ideas, and I said I would choose something. (This turned out to be as startling to him as when we are going somewhere together and I get into the driver’s seat, which makes me resolve to do both things more often.) Anyway, I picked Sense and Sensibility, thinking it would PROBABLY bore the children but maybe not. And it did bore Henry, but all the other four really liked it. (They also liked counting how many Harry Potter actors were in it.) And I liked seeing it again, and possibly I was a little annoying because I kept pausing it to share my wisdom: “You see, this is because it was WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE for a young lady to send letters to a man unless she was engaged or married to him!” Anyway I just loved it. Again.

Cadbury Eggs. The large creme-filled kind and the small solid ones with the crispy shells. This is the best time of year for candy. (By the way, last year I bought a whole bunch of Cadbury Creme Eggs right at the end of the season, so that I could continue to eat them for months. This did not really work. You might think the reason was that I ate them all the first month, and this is not an unreasonable guess—but actually it was that they are much better eaten fresh, and significantly less yummy if eaten in, say, July. The creme filling separates or else crystallizes, and the chocolate has a stale flavor.)

Track; Rob’s Job; The Good Wife

I am feeling a bit grim today. Part of it is that Elizabeth decided to do track. I am glad that when she told me yes she DID want to do it, I had a genuinely glad feeling: I think that kind of thing SHOWS. But as soon as I started filling out the forms (I’d waited: I knew they’d be bad, and I didn’t want to do them if it was going to turn out I didn’t have to), my despair returned. You know how pretty much every year I complain about the summer-camp forms: they ask for things they shouldn’t need to ask for; they say contradictory things; they ask for the same information on multiple different pages; they try to act as if they can force you to sign the “I’m totally fine with it if you kill my child, and in fact it will be my own fault!” section. The school athletic forms are similar. And then there was this long list of things to put onto the calendar, after several paragraphs of rather aggressive language about how they MUST not miss ANY events, and how ANY missed practices MUST be explained IN WRITING (OH I’M SO SORRY SHE ALSO TAKES TRUMPET LESSONS AND CAN’T DEVOTE HER LIFE EXCLUSIVELY TO TRACK). Well, I had many good years of no one doing sports.

Also, Rob quit his part-time job. He did so with my FULL SUPPORT: the company was being crappy. (Rob, with damp eyes: “What would you say if I said I wanted to quit?” Me: “I’d say DO IT.”) But I’ll be feeling a little under the weather for awhile as I mentally attempt to fight his battles for him and also apparently take this opportunity to relive all my own bad work experiences. When he quit, they gave him a hard time about it, saying things like, “Life lesson for you: this is not okay.” I feel like MURDERING. Paul is taking a turn at playing the role of Chill Parent here, saying that speaking of life lessons this is a really good set of them for Rob. Some companies suck: you don’t have to believe them when they tell you YOU are the one that sucks for not giving into their sucky demands. And sometimes you DO have to work for a sucky company for one or more various reasons, but this is not one of those times.

Also, and it took me awhile to put a finger on this, but watching The Good Wife is making me feel a little icky. She is so BUSY and PRODUCTIVE and VALUABLE. She works so hard, while looking so pretty and fashionable! She’s so calm and pleasant with her children, and so tough and unflinching in court confrontations! She gets so much DONE! She fights for justice from dawn to dusk, and often through the night! And I am sitting on the couch, eating Easter candy and watching her do it, feeling burdened if I have to make a single slightly-uncomfortable phone call.

Well. Enough pity party. (Though feel free to use the comments section to keep the party going.) I am going to go drop off Elizabeth’s forms at the pediatrician’s office so they can handle their annoying part of this process, and then I am going to assemble a sweet little drawered cart I got this weekend on a great mark-down (it looks kind of like this one, but it cost less), and then I am going to try that idea of setting a timer for 20 minutes and see how much stuff I can get rid of in that amount of time.

Barium Swallow Test Results; New Crohn’s Medications; College Rejection Letter; Track

The barium swallow test, referred to here and here, didn’t give a clear reason for the symptoms I’m having, so in a couple of weeks I will be writing a post called What It’s Like to Have an Endoscopy. Edward has had one, and he was unconscious for it and woke up feeling happy; I have hopes for same.

Speaking of Edward, we are indeed changing his Crohn’s medications. His new one has to be given by IV, and it takes several hours each time. This makes me feel leveled-up anxiety about the whole medication, that it is administered like this. It makes me think of cancer treatments. I am trying to focus instead on how this hospital is just LOADED with Pok├ęstops. When I was waiting for him during his MRI, there were two within reach of the waiting room. I will hope that that is the case for wherever we’ll be sitting during the IV. Also, he is going to LOVE this new treatment: each time, he’ll have to miss a whole day of school and play on a phone for several hours, and we’ll probably end up going out for lunch.

Rob got a rejection letter from one of his top two college choices. He seems to be handling it okay: of his top two, it was definitely second choice. But I worry that this doesn’t bode well for the other top-choice college. For ME, I am not worried: he has acceptances to several other colleges that I think might actually be better choices for him than his top choice. But for HIM, I’m worried he’ll be very disappointed. At his age I hadn’t yet gotten the message about how sometimes things you want don’t work out and that ends up being BETTER in the long run.

Elizabeth is trying to decide whether or not to do track. For many reasons, I would rather she didn’t: it is incredibly time-consuming, not just for her but for me, and involves tons of figuring out how I am going to drive her here or there when I also need to be somewhere else with one of the other kids at the same time—not to mention sitting around at endless track meets. And there are other reasons I hope she DOES do it: my kids never want to do sports, and that sometimes gives me a low, humming anxiety about their normality and/or my parenting. Plus, what if she loves it? It’s so fun when a kid finds something they love. And with track, it could mean a life-long running hobby. But I CANNOT BELIEVE how much time a sport takes up and how much parental involvement is expected. And she can’t even run a mile at this point, while the other kids trying out for track have been doing other sports and can run three miles while still breathing casually through their noses. But she’d shape up quickly with the INCREDIBLY HUGE NUMBER OF PRACTICES. And better to join NOW in 6th grade, when there are probably other kids new to it as well. And if she doesn’t like it, it’s only a few months. Buuuuut…she’s only been to three pre-season practices and is already saying she’s getting pretty tired of them, and that seems like a bad sign.

I don’t know what she should do, and I am trying not to influence her one way or the other because I really don’t KNOW, but I suspect my conflicting preferences for her to both DO it and NOT do it exude from me like a clinging mist, making the decision even harder. At this point I guess I hope she DOES do it, since “wondering if I discouraged her from doing something she wanted to do / should have done” would feel worse than “wondering how we are going to fit this COLOSSAL INCONVENIENCE AND TIME-SUCK into our lives.”

A Return to the Joy of Salads

Nearly spring, when a no-longer-young-per-se woman’s thoughts turn to salads!

I had FORGOTTEN about salads. Literally forgotten. I think it was because last spring I was working: when I’m working, I like meals that are fast and portable. When I am instead staying closer to home base, what I like are meals that take an entire episode of The Good Wife to eat. For breakfast, I like vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, corn, and red bell pepper) mixed with scrambled egg, sriracha, and cheese: I make a nice big plateful, and it’s delicious, and it takes forever to eat. For lunch, though, I was stymied. UNTIL I REMEMBERED SALADS.

I had to look in my archives to remember how to make them. I was standing there at the fridge, thinking “Okay: spinach, dressing, and…I forget.” Thank goodness for archives:

1. the salad-toppings post from the start of my last salad kick, with a comments section that makes me so happy about blogs

2. a salad I make with kielbasa and banana peppers, a post I transferred over from the old blog platform and so now it clearly needs some tweaking but then I’d have to tweak alllll the old posts and I can’t imagine I’ll get to that anytime soon

3. a salad made with shredded bbq chicken, tomatoes, corn, cheese, carrots, sunflower seeds

4. a salad made with buffalo-chicken nuggets, couscous, tomatoes, cheese, carrots, sunflower seeds

5. cheeseburger salad, made with a hamburger, cheese, tomatoes, dill pickles, bacon bits, and crushed-up Doritos

 

Today I had the one made with buffalo-chicken nuggets (#4), minus the couscous, plus some cut-up apple and slivered almonds, and then I ate the rest of the apple on the side. I feel so pleasantly full! It took so pleasantly long to eat!

I think my biggest hurdle with salads is thinking of them as Sad Diet Food. My mental picture of a salad involves someone eating one sullenly as everyone around them has cheeseburgers and fries. It takes effort to think of them as they really are: Giant Bowls of Things I Like to Eat. It can be a cheeseburger-and-fries SALAD.

Interactive Cat Feeders

Elizabeth and I attended a little seminar at the animal shelter about keeping indoor cats happy and active. Today I may or may not be considering buying FOOD PUZZLES for our cats. To satisfy their hunting/predator instincts and reduce their domestic ennui. (Do they make similar devices to reduce domestic ennui in at-home parents? “Not that I’m aware of,” says the animal-shelter employee. “Wine!,” whispers the middle-aged female attendee next to me. We snort. “MOM,” says Elizabeth.)

(image from Amazon.com)

Northmate Catch Interactive Feeder. This is one of the cheaper options, which puts it higher on my list. I am still cranky about the $45 cat watering fountain that the cats loved but was a TERRIBLE PAIN to clean.

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree. “I’m particularly drawn to this one,” I said to Elizabeth later, looking at options online after the seminar. “That’s because they used this picture in the PowerPoint,” said Elizabeth.

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Trixie Tunnel Feeder. Why am I doing this to you, you wonder. And yet you have not looked away.

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Catit Senses 2.0 Digger. This one gives them the sensation of digging for rodents, which makes them happy. Nature is kind of gross.

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center. This reminds me of shopping for baby toys: special features to stimulate their little brains. Oh god. Is this my life now? *brief feeling of panic and distress* *soothing automatic psychological self-defense mechanisms kick in* *goes back to shopping for cat feeders*

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Pyrus Hide-and-Seek Puzzle Toy. I am virtually certain my cats are too stupid for this toy. It’s not their fault! They’re perfect the way they are! But too stupid for this toy.

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Profcenter IQ Toy. I believe the ferret could figure this out. I have faith in that dog, even though he does not appear to be a particularly bright representative of his species. I’d be willing to give the green checkmark a shot, just to see what it can do. But not my cats, unless all there is to this toy is moving the intelligent-looking circles out of the way so they can eat the food underneath. Then maybe.

Barium Swallow; School Dance; Daylight Saving Time Printout

I had two letters to write today, and I have written them. I love that moment when they are in the mailbox and out of my hands.

I have been having some weird trouble with tightness in my throat and a light cough. It started in November and felt like symptoms of anxiety, so naturally I thought it was president-related—but it finally persisted to the point where I was having trouble swallowing pills, and I started to imagine being asked later why I hadn’t gone to the doctor, so I went to the doctor. Now I have to have a barium swallow test on Monday. The only thing I know about a barium swallow test is that when Edward was drinking the icky stuff he has to drink before an MRI, the technician said, “Just be glad it’s not barium—that stuff is so much worse!”

Elizabeth is going to a school dance soon, and has been practicing putting glitter on her face and hair. She has also been mentioning a particular boy Quite Often. Very casually—but his name comes up multiple times per day. This is a pretty fun stage.

It’s Daylight Saving Time this weekend, so if you need The Printout that Prevents One Million Discussions of the “Wait, So Normally Right Now it Would Be SEVEN O’Clock…No, FIVE O’Clock…Wait…” variety, it is here: Spring Ahead Printout.

Recent Purchases: Dining Room Curtains, Skirt of Abundant Glitter, More Embroidered Jeans

Recent purchases I wish to discuss:

1. Curtains for the dining room! We converted the porch to a dining room….ten years ago? Or so? And I have never bought curtains, because I couldn’t decide or even really narrow it down. Recently the needing-curtains issue has come to the forefront of our attention, and I have spent quite a bit of time looking at curtains online and in stores and wondering how, HOW, does anyone ever choose? And then not buying anything.

Today at Target there were four curtain panels on the endcap, marked down because they were purchased online and then returned to the store. They happened to be one of the many curtains I had considered online but been unsure of because it’s hard to tell about colors/fabrics online. And they seemed good, I was in a good Buying Mood, so I bought them. And I had William hold one up to the window, and he and I agreed they were good! And so I waited for Paul to come home, in case he wanted to veto them, and he did not want to veto them. And then it was down to the final issue: would I be able to find them on the Target website and order two more panels? And yes! With some struggles (Were they listed on the site by the brand name on the package? No! Did the package contain any other identifying information? No!), I WAS able to find them and order two more, AND they were on sale! Here they are:

(image from Target.com)

Closer shot:

(image from Target.com)

They are basically grey plus a weird greenish yellow. I love a good weird greenish yellow. Online, I was uncertain if it was the kind of greenish yellow I like, but it is indeed within that range. I was also worried the curtains would be too busy, but they are not. My dining room is painted Sea Salt (that post about paint colors was written when it was Obama/Biden vs. McCain/Palin and we didn’t yet know we’d get Obama), and the wall-art in the room works really well I think with the colors of the curtains. I am pleased.

 

2. A Cat & Jack skirt for Elizabeth. It’s black with gold sparkles. I bought it on clearance, without noticing that it was supposed to be hand-washed in cold water. As if I am going to hand-wash ANYTHING, let alone a child’s garment, let alone in cold water. It went through the washer and dryer before I read the label. We now have gold glitter EVERYWHERE. I’ve run half a dozen loads of laundry since then but am still finding abundant gold glitter in the lint filter. There is gold glitter on the floors of both levels of the house. There is gold glitter stuck to many, many other pieces of clothing. This morning a child noted I had a single gold glitter piece on my cheek. If you walk barefoot in my house, no matter which rooms you walk in, you will have a sheen of gold on the soles of your feet. Please visit us for all your gold-glitter needs: it is the loaves-and-fishes of gold glitter around here.

 

3. More of those embroidered jeans I bought awhile back! When we last spoke on this topic, I’d ordered one pair, and then as soon as I tried them on I rushed to the website to immediately buy more—but since they were a clearance item AND I’d waited a couple of weeks between jeans-arriving and jeans-trying-on, they were sold out in my size. Working on nothing more than hope, I kept the product tab open on my desktop, and every day I checked just in case. I thought maybe someone would return some, or they’d find another box of them in the warehouse or something. And one day, one GLORIOUS day, they were suddenly in stock in my size. I immediately ordered two more pairs. I am so jeans-happy.

Catching Up

I am so behind on the things I have wanted to write about.

I saw the movie Arrival. If you have not yet seen it, I will say this: I agree with everyone who said not to look into it or read anything about it, just see it cold.

Rob has had another college acceptance, and also a rejection. Maybe I already wrote about this? The rejection was from one of the schools lower on his list, which seems like a very good way to get the first rejection. I can picture THINKING you are prepared for rejection, and then finding upon receipt of actual rejection that you ARE NOT IN FACT PREPARED. We are still waiting to hear from his top two choices, and both of those colleges have low acceptance rates, so this was a good rehearsal. …I feel as if I already wrote all of this. Possibly I did, or perhaps there is a draft somewhere?

Rob has a new job that means he misses dinner five days a week. I am distressed by this. Sometimes I can save him a plate for later, but sometimes we are having something that doesn’t really re-heat, and/or something that gets eaten entirely by others if he is not here to eat his share. Sometimes he makes sandwiches, sometimes he heats something up; and now I have bought some frozen meals, frozen burritos, and cans of hearty soups. I have tried to interest him in learning to make scrambled eggs, fried eggs on toast, tuna-and-Triscuits, egg salad sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, and other things I consider staples of the Single Dinner, but he doesn’t like the foods that I like. Well. We will figure this out. And in approximately six months, it will not be an issue because he will LIVE AT COLLEGE.

I remember there was something I bought and wanted to recommend. What was it? This is the trouble with waiting. Well, I’ll think of it later.

I continue to be engrossed with political stuff. I decided my first half-hour of Twitter-reading per day had to take place while walking vigorously on the treadmill. This has: (1) decreased my Twitter-reading and (2) increased my treadmill usage and (3) decreased my adrenaline while reading. If you lean liberal and you are panicking, may I recommend skimming this book? It seemed to me to be one of those books where the entire point could have been made in one single article, so most of the book is devoted to giving long, thorough examples to back up the main point and create more pages. As soon as I understood the point and skimmed a couple of examples, I felt I’d extracted the vital essence.

I completely forgot to bring two of the kids to their dentist appointments. The appointments were on the calendar. The dentist office called the day before and reminded me. And then I…didn’t bring them. I realized it about half an hour after the second appointment would have been over. I was completely mortified. This sort of thing makes me feel as if I am losing my mind. The dentist’s office was very cool about it, but I found it very difficult to shake the mortified/horrified mood. Then I accidentally rescheduled one of the appointments for a day when we can’t make it, so I will have to call BACK and reschedule AGAIN.

Edward had his MRI. The worst part was getting him to drink the stuff he has to drink beforehand. This was his third MRI so I’d thought it would be easier to get him to drink it, but this was the hardest time yet. It was bad enough, I’m not even sure it would be possible to do it ever again. Even this time they were very uncertain they’d be able to do it, based on what a small amount of liquid I was able to persuade him to drink over TWO-AND-A-HALF HOURS OF CONSTANT EXHAUSTING EFFORT. And then he threw it up. Upside: two Pok├ęstops within reach of the waiting room.

I have started taking online French lessons using a program available for free through our library. I feel as if almost ANY language would be more practical than French—but French is the only one that appeals to me. I took two years of it in high school and still like it. But I hate, hate, HATE the part where the program wants me to use the microphone to compare my pronunciation to theirs. Not only is it disheartening, but it’s difficult to use and I can’t figure out how to use the feedback to improve my pronunciation. It is enough to make me want to ditch the whole thing. So I think I will skip that part and pretend I don’t even HAVE a microphone. Who’s going to tell them otherwise? For all they know I DON’T have one!

Pillow Protector

I have outwitted one of my children. I am going to tell you how it went down.

Henry will not keep a pillowcase on his pillow. I have explained to him the reasons for pillowcases. I have reprimanded and scolded. I have monitored the situation and required him to put the pillowcase back on each time. But every time I check, the pillowcase is off the pillow and crumpled up on the floor. I had just about given up: I don’t want to add “Put Henry’s pillowcase back on” to my daily chores; nor does this feel like a hill to die on. But it BUGGED me.

Then I had a thought: wouldn’t it be great if there were ZIPPERED pillowcases? Because I think the main issue is that the pillowcase keeps getting scrunched up or halfway falling off the pillow, and then he gets frustrated and flings it.

I could not find zippered pillowcases, but I found THESE:

(image from Amazon.com)

pillow protectors, which are basically the same thing. Target had half a dozen different kinds, all with helpful little circles cut out of the plastic packaging so I could feel the material. The organic one felt the nicest and most like a regular pillowcase to me (the others felt a little more slippery). Naturally it was also the most expensive at $7+. But I was at the paying point, and so I bought one.

I laundered the new pillow protector, and I put it onto his pillow. It zips on, and the zipper is mostly tucked out of the way so it’s quite discreet. But did I leave it at that? Heck no: I then put the pillowcase back on OVER the pillow protector. Henry will take it off as usual, for whatever reason he does so. And then he will feel victorious. But I will be victorious! ME! Because his pillow will still have a case on it! A case I can remove and launder!

Tax Prep

I’ve been using tax-preparation software to do my taxes for years, and I don’t want to do it anymore. I want someone else to do it. Even with the software, I end up intensely frustrated: partly because I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do, and partly because the tax forms every citizen MUST fill out should not be so complicated that a college-educated citizen can’t figure out what to do EVEN WITH helpful guiding software. Plus, we got a follow-up question on our financial aid forms from a college Rob applied to, which brought to light that I may have failed to take a large deduction I could have taken last year and the two years previous.

Anyway, that brings us to now. Here are the two options I’m considering:

1. My friend has just this year made this same decision about having someone else handle it, and she got a recommendation for a local accountant who does tax preparation. My friend says this woman seems very nice and competent. Upside: the personal recommendation; I can picture getting to know her and having her get to know me, and having that make taxes easier. Downsides: her office is in a dark and slightly scary location; I don’t actually know anything more about her; one day she would retire and I would feel stressed starting over with someone new.

2. There’s an H&R Block near me. It says “walk-ins welcome.” Upsides: I can just walk in, I don’t have to make the scary call for an appointment; feels more anonymous; it’s a big company which makes me feel less like I have to personally check their credentials. Downsides: They’d care less about my business, I would guess, but maybe not, I don’t know.

But notice how many of these upsides and downsides are based on guessing. I don’t really know anything about this. I am hoping for input. ANY input: differences you’ve found in costs, differences you’ve found in quality, anything you know about the differences between hiring an accountant and going to H&R Block, and also between those two things and any third or fourth option I haven’t considered.

[By the way, we are having some trouble with posting comments and commenting. I have Paul looking into it, and he is figuring it out, but it is taking time and he still has to get in touch with the website…host…or whatever, and then they have to fix whatever the issue is on their end. So you may notice weirdness for awhile with: new posts not showing up; edits not showing up; comments not showing up; comment fields auto-filling with weird information. The only solution I have right now is to hard-refresh, which on my Mac is done by holding down shift and command and then pressing R.]