Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sticker Mosaics

I am back from a several-day trip hanging out with extended family in a pretty place, and there are happy things about being back home with all my usual things in all their usual places, but also I am feeling a little wan and sad. I made coffee this morning just for me, without the happy anticipatory feeling that soon other people would be coming into the kitchen stretching and saying “Mmmmm, COFFEE!” and then standing around chatting as we appreciate the view out the window.

Well. I have items to heartily, heartily recommend for mixed-age-group gatherings: STICKER-BY-NUMBER BOOKS. I brought some easier ones (marketed for kids) and some harder ones (marketed for adults), and they all got used. My six-year-old nephew found the easier ones completely doable on his own; my eight-year-old niece did a couple of the easier ones and then wanted to try a harder one; she found it difficult but doable. My sister-in-law and I both worked on difficult ones and found them mesmerizing; we also found it was good mental practice in letting things go when they can’t be perfect. Here are the ones I bought:

(image from Amazon.com)

Assorted (easier).

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Zoo Animals (easier).

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Under the Sea (easier).

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Assorted (harder).

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Masterpieces (harder).

 

(image from Amazon.com)

Vintage Travel Posters (harder).

 

I really do suggest going into it prepared for things not to line up PERFECTLY, or you could slightly lose your mind. But some of us could use that kind of practice, and the pleasing thing is that even when things didn’t line up exactly they still looked really good. My nephew was not bothered by things not lining up, and had many little white lines between stickers, and his finished results still looked great.

Cartilage Piercing: One-Year Update

I realized the other day that it has been more than a year since I got my first cartilage piercing. I put a few updates on that post, but just covering the first few weeks; after that I said nothing until I changed the earring six months ago. So I think it is time for an update.

The update is that I hardly ever have to think of it or do anything about it. I don’t have to treat it with saline spray anymore, though I do still rinse it after I finish washing my hair. It almost never looks puffy or pink in the mornings. I still notice it in the mirror and still like it. It is still a hassle when I get a haircut: I put a bandaid over it to protect it from the stylist’s vigorous brush.

The earring is still tipped, and I still care. The angle of the piercing itself is tipped, so there is nothing I can do except learn not to mind. Actually, what I plan to do is find a completely spherical earring, so that the tippage would be unnoticeable. My current earring is a “gold ball”—but it’s actually a tiny domed cylinder, so if it’s tipped you can tell. In the meantime, I tell myself that NO ONE BUT ME WOULD NOTICE OR CARE, and also that maybe the shape of my ear made tipping unavoidable. I don’t like to think that the piercing guy did it wrong, or that I squashed it to a different angle by sleeping on it.

I haven’t changed the earring since the first time. I change my lower-lobe piercing daily and take that earring out at night, but the upper lobe and cartilage earrings (these for both) I just leave in all the time.

A couple of times, usually after getting too worked up about the tippage, I have thought maybe I’ll just take the earring out and never mind about this cartilage piercing idea. Each time, I’ve thought: I lose nothing by leaving it in awhile longer, so why don’t I just leave it in for now. Each time, I’ve been glad.

Tooth Extraction and Implant: Nitrous Oxide vs. General Anesthesia

There will be more on this later YOU CAN JUST BET ON IT, but for now I will just say that I am finally having a top front tooth pulled and an implant put in, and I am conceptually horrified by this whole thing, and soon I will need to choose between having laughing gas during the procedure or being knocked out (I’m saying “knocked out” because I’m not sure what it actually is: on the estimate it says “deep sedation / general anesthesia”). Either way, it all takes place right in the oral surgeon’s chair (no hospital or anything). Either way, the procedure takes about the same amount of time. Here are the considerations, for me:

1. Anxiety. I’m not worried I’ll freak out to a can’t-do-the-procedure extent, at all. But the concepts involved are, as I said before, conceptually horrifying: it’s a front tooth, and it will presumably be removed from my mouth using some degree of force, and then a METAL THING will be SCREWED INTO THE UNDERLYING BONE, but maybe first they will need to DRILL OUT SOME BONE or else ADD SOME BONE. There would be some comfort in thinking I can just check out of the whole thing. See you when it’s over, let me know how it went.

2. After-effects/recovery. When I am put under, I usually have trouble afterward with nausea/barfing. I hate that. (And when I had my wisdom teeth removed, I threw up blood. BLOOD. Without knowing ahead of time that that would happen. It was a memorable experience.) I know there are pills/medicines for that, but still. There’s a waking-up time that I hate, and the whole thing is much more complicated. With laughing gas, they just turn it off and I’d be back to normal in a few minutes.

3. Risk. Going completely out is more dangerous.

4. Expense. Going completely out is much more expensive. This is my least concern—except I think that afterwards, when it’s all over, I might feel differently. Also, it feels babyish to pay so much more for such a relatively minor procedure: I’m not having a LIMB amputated. In earlier times, people used to just drink a pint of whiskey, maybe swab a little more of it on the gums! (The oral surgeon says that is no longer one of the options.)

 

I was basically set on the knockout until my friend Jillian heard the story and said that she personally would go with the laughing gas. “I LOVE that stuff,” she said. She says you can still feel things and hear things, and you’re basically aware of what’s going on, but you do not care one single bit. Everything is just PEACHY. Like, “Oh! I think there is some pain happening over there! Neat!” She says it takes away allllll the anxiety and stress, and that it’s a good thing it’s not available on the open market or she’d be on it constantly. Well. That sounds like what I might need.

But then I think of how nice it would be to just skip this, mentally. There are so few unpleasant experiences that include the “Wake up when it’s all over” option; perhaps I should go ahead and take this one. But then maybe I’m just postponing the unpleasantness to AFTER the procedure.

Or perhaps I should do the laughing gas to get a better story out of the whole thing, and because Jillian’s review really did make it sound pretty fun. I could do some added incentive thing, like, “If I save $X by going with laughing gas, I can spend $X on _______.”

Plus, I had two permanent teeth pulled when I was about 10 years old, to make room for the rest of my teeth. I didn’t have laughing gas OR get knocked out for that, and I don’t remember it being a huge deal. (To be fair to my current quaking self, back then I was at an age when having gaps in my mouth was familiar, and also looked normal to other people.)

I am leaning toward the laughing gas. I would like to know what you think, especially if you’ve had experience with this.

Peter Cetera

I had a song going through my head, but I could only remember the tune of the chorus plus the words “Do you love me?” But do you know what is a very common theme in music throughout the centuries? That question. It made the search a little difficult. But I did find it: it’s Do You Love Me That Much, by Peter Cetera.

Ahhhhhhhhh it’s so pretty. But SAD. I don’t think I had thoroughly heard the lyrics before. I’d thought it was tender, but it turns out it’s poignant. The first two verses are about how he loves the other person in this way and that way, and does that other person love him those same ways or maybe in other ways to the same degree—which seems like a promising start to a delightful conversation. But then the bridge and the third verse show he got a NO response, and that’s where tender turns to poignant: he asks, does the other person at least love him enough to break up with him so he has a hope of finding someone who DOES love him that much? Well! That’s pretty painful!

Oh! And if you are, as I am, a fan of sincere pining in your love songs, with bonus points for songs that seem to be sung to a real person and not to the singer’s favorite page in the Victoria’s Secret catalog, then may I recommend asking Pandora to play you the Peter Cetera station? I tried it for the first time while cleaning up the kitchen and folding a load of laundry, and here were the first six songs:

1. Glory of Love – Peter Cetera. I remember being over at a friend’s house, and we were painting our nails, and she said, “Oh!! You have to hear this song!,” and she played it, and I was transfixed. She said whatever people used to say before they said “I know, right??”

2. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon. This was a big hit in my youth. I really liked it. I still like it.

3. Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx. I wouldn’t have thought to add this to a list of songs I like—but when I heard it start playing I didn’t skip it. It has pretty piano.

4. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey. I did skip this one. It’s a fine song, but it plays SO MUCH on the radio stations around here. Also, now every time I hear it I think of “Don’t Start Unbelieving” from Gravity Falls.

5. I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner. Not a usual favorite, but good in this grouping.

6. One Good Woman – Peter Cetera.

 

Nice.

 

Hair-Accessories Caddy Clean-Out; Consolidating Hair Clips (Or: Another Exciting Activity I Won’t Make Paul Listen to Me Talk About, But You Are Fair Game)

As one of my tasks for our academic/creative/organizing time, I have been going through the bathroom closet. One thing I wish I’d taken before/after pictures of is my hair-accessories caddy, which is a six-pocket thing that hangs on the wall of the closet. (It is similar to this, if you want a visual, but it hangs from a nail instead of from a shower curtain rod.) All six pockets were full of stuff, and also there were hair-clips clipped up and down the sides.

I threw out about 90% of what I had. Some of it was “I might need this for a hairstyle someday”—but for hairstyles I haven’t worn in, say, fifteen years; and some of it was “I bought this and it didn’t work out, but I’m hanging on to it because it’s brand-new and it seems dumb to get rid of it.” I did dust off and keep my favorite brown pinwale corduroy scrunchie, in case scrunchies come back into style for real; it is hard to imagine, but on the other hand we have skinny jeans back in our midst, and Ghostbusters. I also kept two headbands, because otherwise I keep buying headbands. And I kept a few pairs of hairsticks (like chopsticks) in case I go back to wearing my hair that way, because it’s still a possibility—but I got rid of a dozen or more other pairs. I got rid of a pearl-bead scrunchie so fancy it would only work for a bride who needed a scrunchie, which is a combination I’ve having trouble imagining, but perhaps something like this; some pairs of small barrettes, and some larger barrettes that hold the wrong amount of hair; some of those things that are a bent piece of material (leather, plastic, etc.) with a hole on each end, and you put it on your hair and then put a stick through the two holes to secure it; a bunch of hair elastics that no longer stretched; and miscellaneous updo supplies that I never figured out how to use.

Now everything I’m keeping is in a Target bag, and the caddy is hanging clean and empty, waiting for me to decide what to do next. There are not enough accessories to fill the caddy, so I have to decide: am I keeping the caddy for hair accessories and also using it to store something else? or am I ditching the caddy and finding a new container for the hair accessories? I need to think.

One thing I found while going through the shelves of the closet was more than a dozen packs of the little hair clips I like, the ones that are sold only in assortment packs, but I only want the tortoiseshell ones. I decrease the waste by waiting until they’re on a buy-two-get-one-free sale, but I kept buying them whenever they were on sale and tossing them onto the shelf, and there was quite a little avalanche of them as I removed other things from the shelf. As I use up the tortoiseshell ones, I gradually combine the other two colors into full packs to donate to Goodwill—but there were a few cards with a stripe of black clips and a stripe of clear clips, just sitting there waiting for me to do that. So today during academic/creative/organizing time I turned that heap into this heap:

I have three full and one partial pack of tortoiseshell clips, and I’ll keep that one partially-filled card of black clips to add others to it later, and I can donate the rest.

Summer Activity with Kids Redux: Academic/Creative/Organizing

We are doing our academic/creative summer activity for the third summer in a row, and we have added two new features.

First new feature: a new activity option to choose from. We still do just two 30-minute segments (or just one, if it’s a busy day, or none if it doesn’t fit at all), but now we can choose academic, creative, or organizing. I added this for a couple of reasons. One: some of us (Rob, Elizabeth, me) want to organize stuff, and feel happy when it’s done, but we have trouble making ourselves do it; this made me think of it as a candidate for our summer project, because the whole thing started on a concept of “these are things we want to do, but we can’t make ourselves do them.” Two: after two summers of this, I am having a hard time finding creative things I want to try, and would REALLY rather spend that time working on the bathroom closet or undoing what Paul did to the pantry.

Second new feature: Life Training. Rob’s upcoming departure is making me panic about all the things I maybe forgot to tell him. Also, this means I get a head start on the other kids. I have been adding almost daily to a list of things I want to cover:

********

short showers
take hair off the drain after a shower
rinse toothpaste-spit down the sink
check toilet rim/seat after using, and remove anything left behind
boys: periodically use toilet paper to wipe dust/moisture off lidless ring
clothes out of bathroom
hang up towels
put out a new roll of toilet paper when the old one is getting low
use your own towel or the handtowel for hand-drying
if the bathroom smells bad, put on the fan and/or use air freshener
turn off the lights when you leave the bathroom

pick up things that fall on the floor
throw away wrappers
if you miss the trash, try again

if a piece of laundry is wet, hang it on the edge of the laundry basket to dry

hang up coat/backpack

plug phones in after use

check pockets before putting things into laundry
turn clothes rightside-out before putting into laundry
put socks into their natural state before putting into laundry
stain-treat if necessary

clear dishes
remove liquid from cups
remove food from dishes
soak if necessary
follow-up on dishes left soaking
wash outsides/backs of dishes/pans as well as insides/fronts
put dishes into dishwasher
wipe up spills you make

bring things up from the pantry when supply is getting low
put things on the list when pantry is getting low

if you use up something refillable (some hand soaps, for example), refill it
if you use up something non-refillable (other hand soaps, for example), get out a new one
if you don’t know which one something is, ask someone who does know (Mum, for example)
some things can have a little water added to them to stretch them

if you take something away from where it belongs, put it back afterward
if you use something out in the yard, put it away afterward

fold bags multiple times before clipping

chew with your mouth closed
please / thank you
sneeze into elbow
use a handkerchief or tissue / don’t pick your nose publicly
close doors quietly

honorifics
handshakes
introductions

********

This is not in any way a COMPLETE list: it’s just the things I want to emphasize this particular summer. And for almost all of this list, this is not the first time we’ve been over it: I have been instructing/nagging about these things for YEARS. But some stuff is new, like refilling hand soaps and adding water to stretch things: I always handle that, and it occurred to me that they might not even know it’s being done, let alone how to do it. And with the stuff I’ve been instructing/nagging about for years, I’m not sure I’ve told EVERY child the why and how of it, or carefully/patiently showed them what I mean, or PUT IT IN WRITING SO THEY CAN’T SAY I DIDN’T TELL THEM. I can feel as if I’ve said something A MILLION TIMES when actually it turns out I explained it to three of the five. Also, some of the items have a new why/how element now that Rob is going to be living with people he isn’t related to.

Some things, like loading the dishwasher, are going to be ongoing throughout the summer: I will keep calling the children in to show them how to do it, and then I will keep having them try it themselves. For the smaller/shorter items on this list, we are adding them to the academic/creative/organizing schedule. Here is how we do it:

30 minutes academic/creative/organizing
brief gathering to discuss what we did
30 minutes academic/creative/organizing
brief gathering to discuss what we did
one life training lesson

Yesterday, for example, we reviewed handshakes and making eye contact and saying “Hi, I’m _____” and then saying “Nice to meet you!”; we practiced it for when you’re the one starting it and for when someone else starts it.

The whole batch of activities takes approximately an hour and twenty minutes, and I’m finding it very satisfying. We don’t have a very busy summer this year, so this gives me the feeling of Doing Things, and also helps with general summer restlessness: the kids might be bickering and I might be irritable, but then we do this and everyone feels better afterward. And the bathroom closet is looking great.

Hair and Nails

I had my hair highlighted/streaked, and it came out more dramatic than I’d anticipated: my hair is light brown, and I got the bleachy highlights instead of the recommended caramel/honey type; on one hand I knew exactly what I was doing and on the other hand there was some resulting self-consciousness and uncertainty, especially when I pulled it back:

Here’s a more flattering picture of it down:

I thought Paul might tease. We have a long-running difference of opinion on the color of my hair, and this could be seen as a fresh start to that discussion. Long, long ago when we met (I was YOUNGER THAN ROB IS NOW), I called my hair dark blonde, and it WAS IN FACT dark blonde. It has continued to darken over the years, and I have gone through several stages of acceptance to call it light brown. Paul, though, has called it “brown” all along. And it is NOT brown! HIS hair is the kind of dark brown that children use a black crayon to represent, and he calls THAT brown TOO. There is a huge difference between BROWN-brown hair and the used-to-be-blonde shade of light-to-medium brown so many of us ended up with.

THIS is brown:

(image from Amazon.com)

THIS is brown:

(image from Amazon.com)

THIS is brown:

(image from Amazon.com)

And I didn’t even choose the DARK browns for those pictures, I chose the MEDIUM browns! Paul’s hair is MUCH darker than those, and he just calls it “brown”! Mine is lighter than those, and he just calls it “brown”! Brown is a very pretty color, but it is not the color of my hair! I’m not being unreasonable here!

Anyway. When he came home he didn’t say anything about the highlights/streaks. We’d been talking for maybe ten minutes when I said, “It’s a good sign that you didn’t come in and say ‘Yo, stripes!’ about my hair; I was a little worried that…” and he looked at my hair and said “Whoa!” So apparently his eyes had just not yet rested upon it.

In other cosmetic news, Elizabeth did my nails. One hand is assorted daisies; the other is galaxy nails:

Bath & Body Works NEW Lavender Vanilla Scent

Here is another story of something hard to get rid of:

I mentioned recently how much I like the Bath & Body Works lavender-vanilla scent, and that I had placed a largish order. It arrived—and the scent is different. It’s hard to describe a scent to say what’s different/wrong, but it IS different/wrong. The sweet part of the smell is now more like honey than vanilla, and the lavender isn’t as sharp or as noticeable. I tried to talk myself into thinking it WASN’T different, just FRESHER, but no: it’s different. I used it anyway for awhile, thinking it would grow on me, but no: I don’t like it.

Here are the things that make it hard to get rid of:

1. I JUST bought it a few months ago!

2. And I was so happy about it when I ordered it, and happy again when I stashed my treasures away, and happy again every time I saw them waiting there!

3. And I bought so much: four body washes and two lotions, plus two each of travel-size body wash and lotion!

4. And it’s EXPENSIVE. I bought it as a SPECIAL THING to USE SLOWLY.

5. It can’t be all THAT different.

But…I didn’t want it. I am halfway through the first body wash, and each time I use it the smell makes me feel a little sick. This is silly. What, I’m going to use it all, feeling sick the whole time, because it was expensive and I’m sad it didn’t work out? No. And I’m not going to return it, not after several months, and I don’t want to try to sell it on eBay.

The key was finding the right place to donate it. Goodwill didn’t seem right. Freecycle would have been okay, but not quite right. The local food/necessities pantry seemed right: they give out free food and toiletries to families who need them, and my daydream is that some of those families include members who LOVE Bath and Body Works stuff and will like this scent and will get that TREAT feeling out of it. It was hard to bag it up, but there was relief in putting it into the collection bin.

Bus

I have fretted here a number of times about having to take Edward into a big city for his various Crohn’s-related medical treatments and tests. I am scared of driving in cities, and I’m not accustomed to dealing with one-way streets or parking garages or people treating two lanes as three lanes, and people honk at me and I can’t tell what the honks mean because they all just sound like honks and I don’t speak honk, and anyway each time I have to drive into the city I make sure ahead of time that my affairs are in order.

Paul discovered there is a comfy bus (the kind with overhead compartments and a bathroom) that leaves from a small, easy little station 20 minutes from our house, and drives to a stop that is only half a mile’s walk from the children’s hospital. Edward and I tried it, and it has CHANGED THE QUALITY OF MY LIFE. I sit there, and someone else drives alllllll the scary parts. Furthermore, there is Wifi on the bus, so I can play on my phone instead of having to concentrate on the road and whatever I can find on the radio. Periodically I look up from my phone and shudder, the way you do when it’s storming outside but you’re safely tucked inside: here’s that difficult exit, here’s that difficult merge, here’s the bridge that means things are about to get a whole lot more complicated. Then, on the half-mile walk from the bus station to the hospital, there were about a dozen Pokéstops.

Our round-trip tickets cost just over $20 total, and parking in the commuter lot was free. When we drive, we pay $7 for the parking garage, plus $11 for the subway, plus of course there’s gas. The total travel time is almost the same; the bus will be a shorter trip on the days when our return trip happens to line up nicely with the next scheduled departure, and a longer trip on the days when it doesn’t.

As you know, I am not fond of Figuring Out New Things, so there was a hurdle to get over: figuring out how to buy the tickets, figuring out which bus we needed, figuring out what time the bus leaves and how much earlier we should get there. But I am much more willing to try something new if there is a possibility of huge future pay-off, as there was here. I am also much more willing to try something new if someone else discovers it (Paul), and tells me about it (Paul), and sends me a link to the website (Paul), and reminds me of it in a gentle, low-pressure, I-mean-just-in-case-you-WANTED-to-try-it kind of way (Paul), and doesn’t argue when I say I am absolutely not going to do it because it is impossible to figure out (Paul), and then praises me afterward and calls me a brave traveling warrior princess (Paul).

Furthermore, I now know how to use this bus to get to the airport, which is on the same route. AND I know how to use it to get to OTHER buses, like the ones that go to other states! It is possible that I will be able to figure out how Rob can take a bus home from college, so that we can pick him up 20 minutes away instead of 7 hours away.

Noritake Arroyo China

I am getting rid of some things that are hard to get rid of, and I think it would help to tell you the stories of those things. Today I am getting rid of a large incomplete set of Noritake Arroyo china. It looks like this:

(image from Replacements.com)

What I find charming about it is that from a distance it’s a fairly subdued pattern of light grey and darker grey squares on white, with a silver rim; but as you get closer, you can see there are little pictures in the squares. I saw this at Goodwill about twenty years ago, when Paul and I were living very close to the edge, money-wise.  I immediately had Feelings about the dishes and wanted them badly, but they were $100—absolutely out of the question. For months, MONTHS, every time I went to Goodwill (usually two or three times a week), I looked at them. They went down to $75. Then they went down to $50. And then they were $25 and I had $20 of birthday money to spend, and I bought them, and I was so happy.

And we have moved these dishes three times, and I have gradually added more pieces from eBay and other Goodwills—and we don’t use them. They have a silver rim so they can’t go through the dishwasher. We have my grandmother’s dishes for special occasions. We just don’t use them. It is time to let them go to someone else.

But this is a perfect example of wishing there was a way to find the person who wants them. There is definitely someone out there who collects Noritake Arroyo, which is hard to find, and would TREASURE my hodgepodge set as an addition to their own set. There IS! But where? And how to get these to them? Selling is a great way to unite searchers with treasures, but it’s a huge pain: describing items accurately, taking pictures, posting auctions—UG. And shipping would be a disaster: tremendously expensive, a tremendous hassle, and very likely to end in breakage; I’m not willing to do it. Money from the sale is of near-zero interest to me, but I don’t want a lot of work and hassle and shipping expenses, either. I tried a local antiques consignment shop, figuring that was a nice compromise of low-hassle/low-money, but they were not interested.

So I’ve been holding on to them as if I think I will one day run into someone within 20 miles who loves these same dishes, and that’s just not going to happen, so I’m going to bring the box to Goodwill.