Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Other Bathroom

Had book club at my house this evening. My pick this month was the Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A fine pick and worthy of good discussion, especially since none of us really had the answer to the ending.

One of the nice things about our book club is that it is pretty small with only eight of us. This means that everyone gets to pick a book at least once a year (or twice depending upon the rotation) and you only have to host book club every eight months. Not that I mind hosting at all, but with hosting comes the responsibility of cleaning the house.

The first time I ever hosted book club for this group I was so nervous that my house wouldn’t fit the bill that I spent days cleaning, organizing, and sanitizing every square inch of my castle, figuring they would surely be looking at the baseboards behind my microwave cart and the top of my ceiling fan blades. I’m going on year three with these ladies and I’m so over that. Now when book club is here, I clean, organize, and sanitize only the room we’ll be using and the accompanying bathroom. The other rooms in the house become storage for piles of crap that were laying in my clean-room-of-choice, or for placing anything I don’t have time to put away before company comes. Like clean laundry, backpacks, miscellaneous people, and anything lining the upstairs hallway.

For this evening’s soiree I chose to be upstairs; the fire was going, there is a tad more seating, and it’s just generally a cozier room. I cleaned the hallway bathroom, the living room, the kitchen, and even finally washed the hardwood floors on my hands and knees with an SOS pad. It was the only way to get the dried-on, stuck-on popsicle drizzle, jelly chunks, hard macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti sauce off the floor. There is a good chance the last time I washed my floors like that was the last time I had book club here. So wash the floors I did, along with about four loads of dishes so nothing would be on the counter. My middle daughter showered before company came, and everyone was instructed to please remain downstairs during mommy’s event. Please.

Things were going along swimmingly-there was laughter and joking, wine and gingerale (for the wimps in our group) and we were all pontificating on Zafon’s literary masterpiece when one of the ladies said, “Rachel, do you have a bathroom downstairs I could use?”

At first I’m thinking, Well, I lit a candle in there, really, she needs to go downstairs? When she replies, “Someone’s in the shower.”

WHAT? No one is supposed to be in the shower. Everyone, I repeat everyone is supposed to be downstairs, messing up the rooms that are already messed up, NOT, I repeat NOT using the CLEAN bathroom for the guests.

“Ummm,” I stammer. “I only cleaned these two rooms! I didn’t clean the downstairs bathroom. Can’t you wait?”

I know. Emily Post is rolling over in her grave that I asked a guest to hold her bladder all because I am too lazy (read defunct stay-at-home mother) to do my job and keep the bathrooms clean, not just one mind you, but all of them. What a lazy ass I am. How rude, rude, rude.

While everyone was laughing at the absurdity of the situation, I ran to knock on the door of the bathroom and tell my son ever-so-nicely (because everyone could hear me) “Honey, could you please hurry up in there?” but what I was really thinking was, Get your sorry 9 year-old ass out of that shower and the bathroom I cleaned for the GUESTS take your dirty clothes wipe up the drippy floor what the hell were you thinking you knew I had book club why couldn’t you have taken a shower in DAD’s shower because that room is already messy and now someone needs to use ANOTHER BATHROOM and I didn’t clean any other ones….

That’s what I wanted to say but didn’t. Like I said, book club was listening. So I slink back to the couch and apologize to my friend—not for making her hold her urine mind you, but that my son was in the shower. Another book club member chimes in “Rachel, I thought with your thing about germs and cleanliness that all your rooms would look like this.” And the only thought that comes to my head is,

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

(Thank you Sir Walter Scott for penning the perfect saying for my predicament.)

I wish all my rooms looked clean all the time. They did when I was able to hire someone to clean my house every two weeks. I do hate germs, especially bathroom germs, but oddly enough I’m comfortable with my own family germs so much that our own germs aren’t really catalyst enough for me to clean my house on a regular basis. And honestly it's not the cleaning so much that bothers me, but the futility in it that prevents me from performing my stay-at-home-don't-having-a-paying-job-duties. I can clean my ass off and 15 minutes later some kid comes along and effs it up. Instead of laying hand on them everytime those oh-so-cute children of mine un-clean my rooms, I've learned to live alongside the blessed children and the ensuing mess. It's how I cope.

Well, finally my friend decides to go downstairs and use the bathroom anyway, mostly so she can report back to everyone how horrible it might in fact be. The last time I was down in that bathroom it wasn’t clean, but it wasn’t gas station either, but of course I’m envisioning the worst. Toilet paper littering the floor, dried skid marks down the side of the bowl, those explosive little brown spots that look like someone spit tobacco just under the rim, dried puddles of urine from boys…I drank a little more wine and tried not to sweat.

When she came back upstairs, her verdict was, “Just a little bit of boy pee here and there. Nothing I haven’t seen before.” Thank you Jesus that she has a boy. Thank you that there was only pee. Thank you that she’s a good liar. Ugh.

I have learned my lesson. The next time I have book club I will make doubly sure that everyone has showered before my guests arrive. And that everyone, I repeat everyone stays downstairs.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Perhaps the dark grey thunderheads should have been a foreshadowing to her as she drove into town. She knew this would be a difficult trip, knew she had to make peace, say goodbye. Thankfully her sister in law had offered to take the kids for the weekend, and she was able to make the trip to the small mountain town alone. She didn’t want her kids to see her cry.

The car bounced up the uneven driveway, pavement cracked and lined from years of buckling under snow and sun; the cinders crunched beneath the tires as she parked to the left of the driveway, directly in front of the door. The house looked forgotten. Blinds and curtains pulled tight, windows shuttered and locked, the cement façade seemed to ache for something warm to fill it.

She shouldered open the car door and the tears poured freely. That smell. That familiar sweet smell of fresh rain and yellow sweet clover enveloped her, and she was ten again, playing in the woods behind the house; playing hide and seek with her sisters around the lilac bushes; tromping through the forest building forts among the trees; tightrope walking the thin rock wall that separated the house from the hill and garden behind it. She knew there wouldn’t be many more times smelling that airy sweetness—perhaps this would even be the last—and she inhaled and cried even harder.

She moved the large round rock that always served to close the heavy garage door. The extra set of keys still hung inside, unseen along the back of an old wooden shelf. She grabbed the keys and headed for the door.

The house was silent. There was no vegetable soup bubbling in the crockpot, no gingerbread warm from the oven. You could always count on those things when you came to grandma’s house, something warm to greet you. It was too quiet now, too cold, too vacant. Her worn wooden rocker was still; the familiar tap-tap-tap of the heating pad cord hitting the chair as she moved back and forth lingered only in memory.

She stopped to grab a Kleenex and dry her eyes. She glanced around the kitchen. Before her stood the wall where her sisters and cousins had kept on-going records of their height each year, lines in pencil and pen labeled with names and years. The kitchen table with an oil cloth covering; the small wall lamp that illuminated it each evening and on dark winter days. That very table where she told her grandma she was pregnant-before she had even told her parents. The kitchen was in silent repose; the weathered brown formica countertops whispering a million memories. Where Grandma had taught her how to make kolache, knead bread dough, can jams and jellies. Where secrets were shared and affirmation passed in approving glances and nods. And where there was always, always water boiling for tea.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Truth About P90X

Even after watching the P90X infomercials many, many times, I still wanted to know what it was really like. You know as well as I, that nothing is ever exactly what it seems. Especially something as good as the P90X. I posted on FB (to the people I knew who had tried the program) that I wanted to know if you had to follow the food program 100%, if the workouts were difficult, if you really had to workout for 90 straight days to see results. The comments I got back were reassuring and mostly positive. While there may be tiny things about the program that some may not like or enjoy, nothing was a deal breaker. Nothing is 100% perfect anyway.

But after using this program for about three weeks, I wanted to let others in on some of the lesser mentioned features of the P90X—at least ones I’m personally experiencing. So here you go. Things about the P90X you may want to know before purchasing the program. (And it’s financially worth it, BTW. Much cheaper than a gym membership.)

P90X has 10 minutes of disclaimers on the screen before each workout for a reason.

I tend to ignore many disclaimers on products because our society is all about suing people to get money. Everything from shampoo to curling irons, dog food to bubble gum, has a disclaimer these days. So when I turned on the first of seven DVD’s to start my 90 day workout session, I didn’t pay much attention to the disclaimers on P90X. “This program is not for everyone. Make sure you pass the P90X basic fitness test before starting this program. If at any time you feel you are working beyond your capacity, stop immediately...” blah, blah, blah. I’m reasonably fit. I used to do Pilates three years ago. I’m not overweight and I’m not a smoker. Should be good to go.

On day two (Plyometrics) I “Brought It.” On day three I couldn’t walk down the steps in my split level ranch. But I tried to work out anyway—arms and shoulders on Day 3. At least it’s not legs, thinks I, who can barely stand. Guess what? My upper body was so tense trying to not put weight on my legs, I pulled a muscle in my neck. I was out for the next six days while I iced my neck and back with frozen peas and popped ibuprofen like tic tacs hoping my legs would be able to bear my body weight at some point in the future. (I told no one about my set back, ‘cept my neighbor whose personal workout regime consists of “putting on moisturizer and sitting still.” She laughed so long and loudly I thought she may have a coronary. She has since suggested I try her “workout program” so I don’t get hurt again.) They aren’t kidding when they say to check with your doctor before starting this program. Make sure when you “bring it,” that you can “take it back with you,” when you’re done working out. Moderation is key.

P90X is one of the few workout programs that encourages you to eat. A lot.

I’ll admit I tried to do the accompanying meal plan for all of two days. It’s not that it’s difficult or particularly restrictive; it’s simply that I didn’t start this program to lose weight, just firm up all my loose geography. I can tell you however, that the plan calls for you to eat all the time. Every couple hours or so. And the portion sizes seemed huge to me: 6 egg whites is considered one serving of protein. 6 egg whites? That’s like three meals and a snack. What the hell am I going to do with 6 lonely egg yolks? Make a hollandaise I’m not supposed to eat? For me eating is a total inconvenience and something I do because it’s kind of a required part of living, but doing it 6-8 times a day is more of a pain in the butt than working out. Following the meal plan they lay out couldn’t be easier; it’s written in third grade English and has many, many colorful graphs and pictures. I did amp up my intake of protein by adding protein bars and powdered protein in my smoothie at the end of each workout, and now eat a high protein breakfast in the morning. But I’ll tell you, working out this hard for many consecutive days requires a lot of calories, so if you like to eat, this might just be the workout plan for you.

You will do things with your body you never thought you’d do unless you worked for Cirque de Soliel.

When doing the P90X it’s important to remember that the people on the workout video—while they may be normal Janes and Joes—have already gone through the entire P90X workout program, test group and all. So, for example, during the hour and a half Yoga DVD, when the people on screen are doing things with their body in words I can’t remember how to pronounce, (like Kowabunga and Ashtungashanti) you need to be aware of your own limitations. There is one move called “crotch over your head,” (or maybe I named it that) that is particularly challenging, or the move where you flip your body inside out and lick your elbows upside down that I just can’t do. I sit my downward-dog-tired-ass on my recycled yoga mat and wait it out. Of course I’m using the time to rehydrate. Duh. Over time you are supposed to become better at the Yoga moves, although there is one where you lie on the floor, raise your legs in the air straight above you, open and close your legs and do bicycle motions all the while collecting air in places that shouldn’t be collecting air. That particular position is not my friend, and I don’t think I want to be better at it.

P90X is appropriately named.

It took me awhile to figure out just exactly why they chose this name, but after a few days of working out, I have it solved. It’s because for us lucky women who have offspring and rather loosey-goosey innards, you pee a little every 90 seconds or so. The X stands for the mystery behind how you’re going to solve the problem. Although just today I saw a commercial for Tena. (You can get a free sample here. ) So I may have just broken the code on the X-factor.

The most creative workouts that require the fewest materials.

I’ll give it to Tony for coming up with one million ways to induce pain on your body using the least amount of equipment. They aren’t kidding when they say all you need is a pull-up bar, hand weights and/or bands, and a workout mat. The ones that actually cause the most ache (for me) don’t even use those. Plyometrics is simply amazing. Who knew that jumping around in circles in your living room could make you want to rip your calves off? Or punching imaginary targets in thin air would make you rethink why it’s important to wash your hair?

Regardless what you think about Tony Horton’s face, his body is hot.

I'm not coveting, just so you know, I'm simply appreciating his fine work. So he’s 47 (at least at the time of taping the DVD’s). He’s got a sarcastic sense of humor and while he’s over the top much of the time, he is trying to get you motivated to continue. His muscular appearance helps this immensely.

Tony’s workout will remind you of Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals.

At the very beginning of Rachel’s career I was very much in love with her 30 minute meal segments. But honestly, she prepares those meals in 30 minutes with no children running under her feet, no phones ringing, no pets needing attention, and no sports practice to run to. These days, she is too perky, too smiley, and too animated to be real for me anymore. Likewise, Tony completes these workouts without interruption. The good and bad news about working out at home is that you can be with your children while you do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paused the workout to wipe someone’s butt, stir the dinner, referee a fight, or answer the door or phone. While Tony’s monologues are entertaining and motivational at times, by the fourth time I’ve heard his Krispy Kreme donut joke, I’m done laughing. Which, I surmise, is why you have the option on some of the workouts to not hear his filler-talk and just hear the cues, or even hear just music. Good call on the part of editing.

You will be sore for the next 90 days straight.

There’s nothing much to add here, except I didn’t realize this until day 3, when I asked my husband, “Am I going to hurt this bad for the next 90 days?”

His response, “Yes.”

All in all would I start it again? Absolutely. With my husband and I doing it together, it’s extremely cost effective. I don’t need a baby sitter. No matter how good you get at the workouts, there is always more you can do. I have already seen some results, and while I may not look like the women on the videos, I think I could. (Not that I will, but at least it’s motivational.) It may be more difficult and dangerous than “putting on moisturizer and sitting still,” but I think I’m up for it. For now at least.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just a Little Bit Sick

Alright. I know I promised a blog on the Truth about P90X today, but as my life would have it, that's just not going to be possible tonite. You see, a sick child is in the back bedroom crying my name over and over and over,.....louder now, oooh, that last one was loud too. Yikes. I don't have much time.

My toddler has the sniffling, sneezing, couging, aching, stuffy head garbage that is running around like wildfire again. In fact I think I'll give myself a does of Nyquil just so I can get some sleep since she won't be letting me do much of that tonite.

Ohh, that was a loud scream for me. Gotta hurry.

My husband is currently driving back from New Hampshire, so I'm basically here by myself with the likes of one sick, cranky kid. I have the weird feeling that I'm going to be sharing the twin bed with her tonight. Ugh.

Oh yeah, the other two kids are here too. They are about as much help as my absent husband right now. They are watching American Idol downstairs. Even though we don't ususally watch TV during the week, tonight I really needed them to be comotose. No better way to induce comotose than turn on the TV.

My youngest may actually lose her voice she's screaming so loudly. Guess that's my que.

More tomorrow night on the P90X. I promise.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

P90X and Blue Jeans

Most of you may know already that my husband and I are now doing the P90X workout. I initiated this move for a couple of reasons. For one, from the first time I ever watched their infomercial I was hooked. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched it, but witnessing the before-and-after of everyday shmucks like myself absolutely had me riveted. If Betsy from South Carolina, who has a gut larger than mine and five kids, can look like that after 90 days of working out, sign me up. Like yesterday. Honestly, if you have a business you should investigate what company is in charge of marketing for P90X and hire them. They have some seriously phenomenal marketing. But I digress.

Another thing that prompted me to start the workout program was my blue jeans. As every woman knows (and maybe some men here), in the closets of females everywhere there live three distinctly separate piles of jeans: the now jeans, the skinny jeans, and the fat girl jeans.

Now before you get all huffy and start ranting about how "every woman is beautiful regardless of size," let me preface that I totally agree with you. That said, I don’t care if you are a size 2 or 20, every woman has a similar system in their closet. We have the jeans we wear everyday. Our now clothes. The size we currently are and maybe have been for quite some time. We also have our skinny jeans. These jeans remind us of a time when we were smaller or weighed less than we do now and may have come at some expense to our bodies. After having the stomach flu for a week and losing 10 pounds. After being on the South Beach diet that summer before your high school reunion. The year your life was so stressful you could only eat one bowl of Rice Krispies a day. When you were two month pregnant and wretched every 15 minutes. At our personal thinnest, we go out, purchase new clothes, and especially buy a new pair of jeans. You’ve never looked or felt better than poured into your brand spankin' new skinny girl jeans.

We all know how the story unfolds. Time happens. You overcome the stomach flu. Summer ends, the holidays hit, and your skinny girl jeans now prevent you from sitting down. Back to the department store to purchase a larger size pair of denim pants which you are now more comfortable in. Sure, you may be wearing one pant size bigger than before, but it’s only one size see, and it’ll be easy to get back into your skinny girl jeans with just the tiniest bit of effort. I’ll keep them in my closet, you think. I’ll be back in those skinny girl jeans, just you wait.

Well, like sands through the hourglass, so is the weight of our lives. Time happens. You have a baby. Then two. Then three. You shove food in your face because it’s convienient not because it tastes good, pack on some more padding and before you know it, your everyday jeans are a bit tight. They pinch your crotch when you sit down, and forget about trying to squat in them. At first you try out the waist extenders-you know looping a rubber band through the button hole and around the old button. This buys you a few months maybe, but you have to make double-sure that your shirt is long enough to cover the extender, because nothing is more embarrassing than having to rubber band your pants, especially if you aren’t pregnant. Pregnant people get a break on this. Your double latte gut does not.

So you go back to the department store and purchase the same size, but in stretch denim. This way you can still hold your head high (and button your own pants since there is a little give in the fabric) since you haven’t really moved up a size. But inevitably, you go there. You have to purchase the size of pants you swore you’d NEVER WEAR, be it a size 8, 12, or 20W. These pants are now the antagonist in your life. Your fat girl pants. You feel fat in them, you do everything you can to get out of them and back into your everyday size, which has now become your new dream goal. Don’t get me wrong, you still have those skinny girl jeans in your closet gathering dust. Those skinny jeans represent how we ultimately see ourselves; our everyday jeans allow us to hold onto the illusion that we will someday be what we once were, and our fat girl jeans hold our fear of getting to that place in life where there is no turning back. Those fat girl jeans are more motivating for us to make a lifestyle change than our cholesterol scores or high blood pressure.

Which is what prompted me towards the P90X workout. My everyday jeans were getting snug. They pinched my crotch. They even made me a little gassy. I pulled out my fat girl pants, put them on and breathed a sigh of relief. These two pairs of jeans are my post pregnancy pants and I absolutely love that they don’t pinch my crotch. But I don’t want my fat girl pants to become my everyday pants, and my old everyday pants to now become my skinny jeans. I know time marches on and my piles will shift eventually, but I’m not ready to throw dirt on that coffin yet.

How’s it going you ask? Are my jeans fitting any better than before? Well, let’s just say that P90X is A LOT harder than the infomercial lets you in on. Let’s just say that my next blog is going to be about the many things P90X doesn’t tell you. But I can tell you this, I’m not in my skinny girl pants yet, but I am wearing my everyday pants right now, and I had much less gas than last week. It’s a good sign.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dermatology 101

Now that I’m the ripe old age of (cough cough), I decided I needed to finally see a dermatologist. Since I’m basically a walking skin-cancer applicant, what with the light skin, dark hair, and freckles and moles that seem to pop up daily, I figured getting a full body check was the responsible thing to do. That, and apparently there was a dark spot on my back that looked a little suspect. I was concerned that the wait to see a dermatologist would be so long I might be consumed by a mole before I got an appointment, but as luck would have it, the office in town was able to schedule me with only a four month wait. Lucky me.

At the dermatologist’s office the wait was short and before I had even finished filling out my history forms, they called me back. A lithe, perky nurse assistant bounced me down the hall, welcoming me and asking how my day was going. I half expected the room to be set for tea when we arrived. She pointed me toward the ultra-comfy paper covered barcalounger knock-off, and proceeded to sit and ask me the same questions I was filling out on the sheets on the clip board they gave me. Apparently she needs a job.

“Wow!” she exclaims. “You look great for 72.”

Now I admit that perhaps I haven’t been using my under-makeup moisturizer with spf 15 daily necessarily, but I manage to apply it at least five out of seven days. Maybe those crows feet and worry lines on my face are more glaring than I originally thought. I’m taken aback until I realize that she is talking about the year I was born.

“Oh, thanks,” I reply.

“No, really,” she continues, “When I glanced at your chart I saw the 2 and thought it was like 82, I thought you were like, my age. But then I looked again, and no! it’s 72. You look really young for your age.”

I’m so flattered and offended at the same time I’m not sure how to respond to her backhanded compliment. I’m either a total anomaly or she sees a lot of 36 year-olds who look like Mick Jaggar.

After answering the customary questions, she hands me a johnny and tells me to remove all my clothes except for underwear. She leaves and I begin undressing and realize with horror there are a couple things I overlooked.

I must digress for a moment. If you are a normal human, you understand that various doctor visits require a certain amount of prep time, depending upon the specialty you happen to be visiting. When you go to the dentist, for example, you typically brush and floss your teeth until your gums bleed, just to avoid the embarrassing situation of having the hygienist remove a slab of last night’s filet mingon from between your second and third molars. When you visit the Ob/Gyn, you typically take a shower, perhaps perform some type of landscaping maintenance just to keep things tidy. Those doctors get awfully close to things down there. Likewise, when you go to the dermatologist, you should engage in some minimal skin care, since they are in fact, going to be inspecting your skin.

Shaving would be a good thing to do. Say, your legs and armpits. Shaving however, was one thing that I completely forgot would be important. This being winter, shaving is something I practically forget how to do, simply because my legs never see the light of day for months on end. Hairy armpits are another matter, and while I do typically take care of them frequently, on this particular day it happened to be an oversight. Putting lotion on would have been another great idea.

Because as I’m undressing, I’m now horrifically aware that not only do I appear Aboriginal, I also just left and entire empty sheath of body skin inside my clothing. My skin is so dry I should have marinated in olive oil for two days before coming to this appointment. At this point I’m down to my skivvies trying to tie a plain white jonnie around my waist, and I realize that I’m a dead ringer for an old dried out bottle of paste. You remember that paste from kindergarten don’t you?

I try to change my thinking. Perhaps I’m a dermatologist’s dream, obviously shunning all sunlight, allowing my skin to go au natural, not lathering it with harsh chemical moisturizers that strip the delicate epidermis of natural oils. Perhaps she will walk in and say to me, “My gawd! Your skin is so natural! I can tell by the dry, pale, hairy nature of your legs and arms that you really care about your skin! I wish all my patients looked as dry, and hairy, and pale as you do!

Well, I can dream my way out of embarrassment anyway.

But that’s not what she said. She came in, gave me a once over, asked if any moles or freckles were larger and bullying the other freckles on my body, or if they made any cool pictures when you connected the dots, like the outline of the Virgin Mary or a slice of pizza.

Okay. She didn’t say that either. But it would have been funny.

She did say that I had a couple moles that she’d like to biopsy, including the one on my back that was the catalyst for the visit in the first place. She actually seemed to not even notice the dry, hairy, pale nature of my skin, even when I made a joke about how I forgot to shave.
“Oh this?” she said. “Honey, I’ve seen much worse.”

Apparently there are patients who come in even more natural than me.

Bless them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Brace Yourself: I'm Wineing

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February 22, 2010

It’s 4:19 and I’m 5 seconds away from pouring myself a glass of red wine. It’s been one of those days that started going horribly wrong at about 9:00 a.m. and proceeded to spiral into an a black abyss steadily afterwards. I should also mention that it is also three days before my “cycle.” Not that this has anything to do with how I feel about my hellish day of course. I am completely calm and centered at all times. As if.

The details? Oh the details don’t really matter. The kids are fine. My husband is fine. Everyone’s health is stellar and our house is still standing and there is food in the fridge. Yes I know I have a lot to be thankful for.

Today was one of those days when that catalystic event sets in motion a string of unfortunate events, presumably all unrelated, but having happened to you on the same day, it makes a person like me think my Guardian Angel decided to go eat a pastrami sandwich and swill a coke, while leaving me to fend for myself. I don’t know what your Guardian Angel eats, but mine eats pastrami. And it’s not the fatty kind either. It’s heaven, after all, and they only have the freshest, leanest, lunch meat there.

I was so upset and immobilized by anger today that I did not workout. I am now two days behind my P90X workout plan which pisses me off even more. I have not eaten my allotment of protein, instead ingesting another large slab of triple chocolate cake. I took a two hour nap today. Which was wonderful and warm, and will now throw off my sleep schedule tonight keeping me up later so I’ll be tired again tomorrow.

I forgot my pin number to my bank account, and for the life of me, have no idea what it is, but I can tell you what it isn’t: the four codes I entered into the ATM trying to get money out.

I returned a pair of pants to Macy’s today expecting cash back, but was informed that they can only “credit my debit card” that I used for the purchase, which I no longer have because I had to get a new card because the strip on my old card wouldn’t work, so now I have a effing-gift card to Macy’s, which I don’t need.

Did I mention I also got a paper cut opening the mail?

Stop your whining, you say. Suck it up. There are people in Haiti still buried beneath the rubble of cement buildings.

You’re right. I’m going to go pour me an eight ounce glass of perspective right now. Like I said, I’m sure my cycle has nothing to do with how I’m feeling. I'm going to get into my fuzzy pants, oversized sweatshirt, and put on a movie. I'm going to let the kids fend for themselves for dinner, let the crap on my carpet stew, and I'm not checking anyone's homework. I am OFF duty.

And my Guardian Angel better get his or her act together for tomorrow.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Phone Home

While I generally embrace technology, I have to say I’m rethinking my family’s dependence on the wireless phone. In fact, I’m seriously contemplating installing those ancient tabletop phones with the old push buttons, or better yet the rotary dialer. This frustration comes in the wake of yet another “phone issue” here in our house.

Two summers ago our family lost one of two handsets to our phone system. We spent a lot of time outside clearing the yard that summer and there is a good chance it got buried beneath the raspberry bushes somewhere. We lived with one handset for quite awhile, until my bitching about running up and down the stairs to find the one operable phone that was ringing started to annoy my husband. With four phone users in the house, it is also a certainty that each person never knows where the phone is located. “I didn’t use it last,” ends up being the new family mantra as I desperately try to lay blame somewhere. Being the convenient wireless that it is, the missing phone could be anywhere: under the bed, in the laundry hamper, shoved in a drawer with the dirty clothes from the kid’s floor, or out on the back porch. I’ve even placed it in the mailbox on my way to get the kids from the bus. The good news here is that our one remaining handset will repeatedly beep if you push the FIND HANDSET button on the system base. If you walk into our house and all four family members seem to be walking and stopping and listening walking and stopping and listening, there is a good chance we’re looking for the handset. I’d like to note however, that this life-saving feature only works if the handset is charged. This info will come in handy a bit later.

Clearly one handset wasn’t working for the family and that Christmas my husband surprised me with another handset—one that was compatible to our current system. All you had to do was program it, you see, to your current phone system and it would be an additional handset to use. Easy peasy puddin’ and pie.

My husband spent the better portion of that morning reading the directions and pushing buttons until….he programmed the new handset to ring with our system. Yeah!! However, in the process of programming that new phone, he un-programmed our old phone which (to this day) does not work, ring, or charge, but is still nestled in the charging jack of our system. Back to one phone again. What’s that saying about good intentions?

We were still a one handset phone family until this past Thanksgiving, when one of the treasures we managed to escape my in-laws house with was a “phone set,” housed in a large 9x13 Tupperware container. Two handhelds and two charging bases, my husband figured out how to rig these butes so that they too could be used with our phone system (that is just the system by the way because all the original handsets have disappeared.) “Aren’t you excited honey?” asked my husband. “Now you can have a phone in your office all the time and one upstairs. It’s what you’ve always wanted.”


“Have you used those phones yet?” I asked.

“No. Why?”

Well, the why-because is that when talking in those repurposed phones (to put it nicely) it sounds exactly like you are talking into your unplugged hairdryer. I’m not sure what it is but in most phones I’ve used in my lifetime, when you talk into them your own voice goes somewhere—is somehow absorbed by the phone—leaving you with the feeling that your voice is being heard on the other end. But with these handsets, when you talk your voice is thrown back at you like you are talking against a window and you’re not quite sure if the other end can hear you. Based on these characteristics, we now refer to the handsets in our house as the “good phone” and the “crappy phones.”

Now that we have three handsets in the house, one would think that our communication issues were solved. However, now that there are three handsets, there are three more things I have to remember to place on the charging base. I say “me” here because I think it will be a cold day in hell when the children actually think to charge them. They’ll charge their DS’s but God-forbid they charge the handsets. My husband has been known to throw a phone or two on the charger, but I can safely say, not charging the phones is a family problem.

Can you see where this is going dear reader?

Guess what we are now missing?

You got it. The last remaining good phone is now MIA.

Don’t get me wrong. I have two crappy phones I can and do use. There is also a nice speaker feature on the system base that we use when we can’t find those handsets either.

What’s that you ask? Did I try and BEEP it?

Of course I tried to beep it. The phone has been missing for days now and the battery is dead. The homing device will no longer lead us to the missing communication portal. Now, it’s just about searching the old-fashioned way. With tech-sniffing dogs.

In order to solve these problems my family has with wireless phones, I think I’m going to screw the damned things to a wall or table somewhere. Then I’m going to attach a looonnnnggg, stretchy cord to the handsets so you have a little walking freedom, but not so much that you can misplace it. My new device won’t need to be charged either. It will work at all times, including during power outages. Sure I might not be able to talk while I’m using the restroom, whisking a béarnaise, or potting my flowers in spring, but at least I’ll always know where the phone is.

What’s that you say? They already have phones like this?


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beef Wieners, Crescent Dough, and Beer

February 20th, 2010

Ha. Bet you thought I wasn’t going to get this in. My plan isn’t to blog every night after 9 p.m. That’s just the only time that’s been available to me since my house is currently being overtaken by five 9 year-olds.

Today was my oldest daughter’s 9th birthday celebration with friends. (Her actual birthday was Thursday which we celebrated with a trip to the highly overrated Rainforest Cafe.) Today's shindig started this morning at 11:30 with two hours of cosmic bowling, pizza, and cake. Cosmic bowling was pretty fun generally, although with all the psychedelic moving lights I felt like I needed a beer in one hand and a bong in the other to really get into the groove. Pictures I took with the flash didn’t show the girls' cool neon glow necklaces, but pictures taken without the flash look like the one above. The results are a “little overexposed” and “drunk mom.” I have a little of both.

Some of the girls came home with me to spend the night, and it was only after I was home that I realized that I started this party WAY to early. If they go home by 11:00 tomorrow I will have had these girls and this party going for 24 hours. That’s a lot of little girl screaming I hadn’t thought of. Note to self: next year start the slumber party after dinner. I love my daughter and all, but we've been celebrating this birthday for WAY too long.

I really can’t complain though because it doesn’t take too much to keep 9 year-old girls happy. You simply need the following:

  1. Many high fat, high sodium snack foods
  2. A ton of chocolate and candy
  3. Beads and stretchy string
  4. Radio with cool music

At 2.5 hour intervals I would venture to a new location in the house or outside, sprinkle more assorted edible garbage on the ground like birdseed and let the girls run screaming and collecting the repast with fervor. After eating, a new activity. They actually made beaded bracelets for over an hour. Bless their hearts.

Dinner—at the request of my daughter of course—was a culinary treat of pigs-in-a-blanket, assorted chips, grapes, and orange kool-aid. Dessert? Make your own sundaes that were 80% crushed candy bars, cookies, sugar sprinkles, and chocolate syrup, and 20% ice cream. Quit looking at me like that. I fed them grapes. I also did my due diligence and warned them ahead of time not to dump so much stuff on their ice cream that they felt sick. THERE WILL BE NO BARFING I warned them. Not that they listened. But it’s 9:30 and I haven’t heard any heaving yet. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Now that I think about it, my diet hasn’t been too great today either. I was in such a rush to get things done this morning that after working out instead of following up with some serious protein, I swilled down two cups of coffee with cream and sugar. Lunch was a piece of greasy Dominoes pizza, a coke, and a slab of triple chocolate cake. Dinner was a beef wiener wrapped in crescent dough, cheese balls, a beer, and another piece of chocolate cake. Ummmm, I’m pretty sure that these items aren’t listed in the P90X workout meal plan. I wonder if Tony has a 9 year-old daughter.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Grab a Tuna Sandwich and Join Me

February 19, 2010

First Friday of Lent

So I finally know what I’m going to give up for Lent this year, or rather, what I am going to do to better myself. Sure I could go for the easy not-eating-candy-for-forty-days bit, or perhaps soda (which I don’t really drink anyway), or go totally masochistic and give up my coffee in the morning, but I decided to take an unconventional approach that I feel would be much more beneficial.

If I’m really honest with myself—and at my age it’s time to start being honest—I have to say that one of the biggest characteristics I lack is self-discipline. I’m driven, don’t get me wrong. I have mental laundry lists of things I’d like to do, things I want to do, things that need doing, and goals I’d like to accomplish. If I start a project for someone else I have great follow-through. If someone else assigns me a task and a due date, I’m more than happy to complete it on time. No, what I lack is that self-motivating chip that gets me to clean the house on a regular basis, do the laundry before everyone runs out of underwear, send out query letters that will no doubt be rejected time and again, and blog with any kind of consistency. I’m not particularly consistent in these areas. At all, actually.

And then I get behind. And then things feel overwhelming, causing me to put them off even more because all I can think of is “where do I even start?” It’s a vicious cycle and I’m getting dizzy.

So this year for Lent I’m going to work on my self-discipline by blogging every day for the next 40 days of Lent. That’s not a particularly difficult thing to try and do, you might say. You’re a writer after all.

Well, I suppose I could try to clean the house every day for forty days but it would be difficult to document, you not being in my house and all, not to mention the eight pairs of hands that would undo my did work making it appear that I didn’t actually do anything when in fact I did.

This will be difficult, trust me. Try coming up with something meaningful and funny to say everyday for forty days! What a chore! You may be reading about how I flossed my teeth that evening, or how the kids got into a farting contest, or what kind of gas mileage my husband got on Prius this week. It might be that boring.

And since I’m going to be blogging everyday for forty days, they won’t be as long as usual. Which is great, you might think. I never have time to read your lengthy blogs anyway. You’re funny for about 10 minutes, and then I have laundry to do.

I get it. Another head’s up, these blogs might not be perfect. There might be a word missing, or grammatical errorss, or even many, many,,, many, misplaced commas.,. I do that when I’m in a hurry. Like tonight. If so, keep your comments (and judgments) to yourself. Yes, I can write and proofread. But trying to write perfectly is one of the things keeping me from writing at all. At some point you just have to say screw it.

The idea struck me tonight and I knew I had to start TONIGHT because as it is I’m already two days behind. (Genius takes time.) So even though I’m exhausted and it’s 9:40 p.m., and my ass hurts from working out today, and I have to get up at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday to work out before my daughter’s cosmic bowling party, I’m here, typing this.

That’s how self-disciplined I am. Or want to be rather. Join me on my forty-day Lenten blog pilgrimage to self-disciplination. I made that word up.

It sounds nice.