Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The season of damp and grit...

Well, it's about 95 degrees here in Boston and that means that my least favorite time of year has arrived.

It is this weather that sends my children outside to splash happily in the pool and then walk with wet feet through the yard and into the house. Once inside they wander about the house, removing wet bathing suits and leaving sandy footprints everywhere.

I hate it.

I hate the heat. The hate the humidity. I hate the feel of sand and dirt throughout the house. When the dogs are outside they need to be kept wet or else they overheat, so periodically I find damp puddles of grit from where they came in and slept.

Did I mention the laundry? Lily goes outside and swims. Then she plays in the sandpit for a while and gets completely disgusting. She removes her bathing suit and announces that she is done swimming. An hour later she appears in a fresh bathing suit and begins the process anew.

Then there's the sunscreen ritual. On the face, but not in the eyes! Don't forget the hairline! Missed a spot! Mommy!

Though they have not yet appeared, I am certain that another harbinger of summer is planning its invasion. Yes, the beast of which I speak is the fruit fly.  Those vile swarms which defile my bananas are no small nuisance.

Of course, the fruit fly is not nearly so bad as the baby flies that I have been killing around the house. Remember that dead bird which was in the vent that David didn't take care of because he went to dance class? Well, the maggots which were living in it are all grown up and looking for rot. They've been buzzing stupidly about the house while I chase them around with Lily's red patent leather shoe. I've killed at least twenty.

Did I mention that the dog threw up all over one of the few rugs we have? And there are piles of dog fur everywhere? And that my mother is due in town in this afternoon so that she can be a witness to it all??????????

Please send chocolate and late September. I'll be hiding in bed with the air conditioner blasting.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Not a dirty word...

When I posted my story about David's injured scrotum, I expected plenty of responses, because I ask you, is there anything funnier than a story about torn testicles as the result of hair removal gone wrong?

No, dear Internet, there is not.

I was surprised however, to find that a small group of readers were offended by my post.

No, it wasn't because of the slightly blue subject matter, it was because of one word.


Several of the women with whom David dances were upset that I referred to them as housewives.

I was kind of shocked.

I am housewife. Most of my best friends are housewives. I love being a housewife!

I had no idea that being called a housewife was an insult. One woman wanted me to change the language. I tried explaining that when I used the term "housewives" it was in a story that had nothing to do with the women with whom he was dancing. It was a story about my husband being a idiot.

My point, I suppose, when I used the term "housewives" was that this is not a group of professional dancers, nor a group of young dancers (Not that they're old! I swear!). This a group of women, most of whom are wives and mothers, many of whom work outside of their homes, who get together for a dance class once a week and have a blast.

None of them have injured themselves because they are far too sensible for that. They dance, they have fun, they go home. They do not require ice packs and daily chiropractic care after their class.

Furthermore, the point which I was trying to humorously convey, is that my husband has managed to injure his favorite body parts, repeatedly and painfully, to appear in what should be a "fun" performance, not a "destroy your reproductive organs" performance.

So what have I learned from this experience?

That you should never call someone a housewife and that the removal of band-aid's from testicles causes swearing and weeping.

Live and learn.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In which David injures his manly bits or When manscaping goes bad...
Those of you who are David's friends on Facebook know that he suffered a dance related injury this week. He has been rehearsing like mad, the only man among a group of housewives, for the big recital this weekend. He has never been very good about holding back, or pacing himself and so during one of his rehearsals this week he pulled his groin.

I don't completely understand what this means, except that it results in copious swearing and the need to hold an ice pack in his lap. Kind of like his response to his vasectomy, actually.

Not one to let the show go on without him, he has been wearing an elaborate system of Ace bandages and surgical tape in order to protect his groin.

There is a problem with the use of surgical tape in such a delicate and hairy region of one's body. The tape kept getting stuck in certain hairs, certain hairs which I will not describe, but suffice it to say that these are private hairs.

David decided that shaving these hairs would solve the problem. Why he chose to solve this problem without the aid of a mirror is a mystery to me and a deep regret of David's.

While I was getting the girls' ready for the dress rehearsal today I asked him, "Are you ready to take the dogs for a walk?"

"Well, " he replied, "I can't stop bleeding."

And that is when I looked up and saw my naked husband holding a wad of toilet paper to his most delicate and vulnerable bits.

With one look I knew exactly what had happened.

Reader, I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.

He got a bit teste (Sorry. Could not resist.)

Dejectedly, he sat upon the bed and ministered to his wound. Closer inspection revealed a half inch long laceration which would not stop bleeding.

I tried to use first aid, but my help only increased the blood flow.

Finally, I had to leave. It was time to take Rebecca and Lily to their dress rehearsal. I left David home, lying in bed, with his wound elevated and his soul depressed.

Dance is a cruel mistress, but manscaping wants blood.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I am an idiot: Exhibit A

This weekend is arguably one of the busiest weekends in recent memory. It is dance recital weekend and I am the only person in my family who is not dancing in this years show.

Rebecca had a dance team dress rehearsal tonight at 5:00.

Tomorrow, David, Rebecca, and Lily all have dress rehearsals during the day. Rebecca is dancing in the 4:00 show and both David and Rebecca are dancing in the 7:00 show. On Sunday the fun continues when all three of them dance at 3:00.

My head is spinning. So many places to be! At so many different times! I need my chocolate!

None of this stopped me from being a complete idiot today and completely rearranging all of the furniture in Rebecca's room. I also roasted a chicken and made a batch of chili so that we'd have food available throughout this crazy weekend.

The compulsion to rearrange Rebecca's furniture has been mounting all week. When I am trying to fall asleep at night I don't count sheep. I lay awake and redecorate my house. I imagine the lovely parts of my house made even more charming with a slightly altered arrangement of knick-knacks. I silently scorn the areas of my house which for whatever reason are driving me crazy.

This week all of that energy has been directed at Rebecca's rat hole room. I knew that it could be ignored no longer- the room needed me, and I, it.

I took it apart. The books were piled on the floor. All of the furniture was moved. The girls and I enjoyed a few lovely hours sitting among the books, sorting them and listening to the Harry Potter audio book. The windows were open and the warm breezes wafted through the room.

It would have continued to be loveliness had Lily not attempted to play in Rebecca's newly created American Girl nook, triggering a litany of injustice and misery being perpetrated upon her by the world in general and her family in particular. Eleven, I think I hate you. Please return my sensible child, our crazy child position is already filled.

Calming Rebecca took some time and before long it was time to take Lily to gymnastics. While Rebecca's room was finished, the rest of the house was utter squalor. There was overflow from Rebecca's room all over the floor of the hallway. Lily's room was a disaster. All of the blankets and pillows were on the floor, covered in sleeping animals who enjoyed finding cozy spots among the piles of books and stuffed animals.

My room was covered in things which needed to be taken to the attic and laundry which needed to be put away.

Meanwhile, the rest of the house noticed that I was occupied with the upstairs and took that as a sign to party. The dust bunnies tripled in size, shoes multiplied and the dirty dishes in the sink committed unspeakable acts. I cannot describe these acts here. Trust me.

After Lily and I returned from gymnastics I shifted into high gear and somehow put the house back together. The laundry is away, the dishwasher is full and the kitchen floor is mopped.

I can go to bed knowing that the house is clean, but that I am an idiot. On a day when I should have been buying bobby pins and hair nets, I trashed my house and put it back together.

Still....Wanna see some pictures of Rebecca's room?

Have you ever noticed that in home magazines you never see any toys in childrens rooms? Maybe an antique rocking horse in an empty corner or some vintage blocks stacked just so. Where the heck are the toys? Where are the stacks of books- not to mention all of the crap treasures which children accumulate and cannot part with? I see those pictures and imagine a huge pile of plastic Little Tikes toys stacked up in another room while the photo shoot is going on. Big colored bins of legos, clashing horribly with the tasteful and muted designer colors of Pottery Barn Kids.

I think I am a wee bit crabby and should probably go to bed before I start ranting about laundry rooms so full of decorative "laundry" items that there is no actual laundry.

Have a good weekend and do not be an idiot. Love, Your Most Idiotic Blogger

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer's coming and we need to finish school!

Why yes, I am still here.

I didn't mean to take three days off from blogging, but I have been distracted with homeschooling.

On Monday I took a look at the calendar and realized that summer is almost here and I needed to see where the heck we were with our homeschooling.

One of the perks of homeschooling is that we can do our learning at our own pace and this has been a real boon for my children, though in equal and opposite ways.

Lily finished her Grade 2 math book about two weeks ago and began begging to be taught multiplication.

Let me repeat that:  Lily finished her Grade 2 math book about two weeks ago and began begging to be taught multiplication.

Readers, I have never, ever, in my entire life begged anyone to teach me math.

Because math is hard! Let's go shopping!

When Lily persisted in her desire for torture multiplication I wanted to make sure that we did it right. I wanted her to understand the idea behind multiplication, but I also wanted her to understand that memorization is the cornerstone to being successful in this operation.

I took the girls to Borders where they read books and I looked at several beginning multiplication books. I ultimately chose this one.

It's perfect. It relies on a lot of repetition, but the fonts are big and the pages are uncluttered. It really takes it's time, which might seem a little boring, but I think that it forces kids to really have mastered each times table before moving onto the next. Lily loves it and I really wish that Rebecca's introduction to multiplication could have been more like this.

Meanwhile, Rebecca has been able to take her time with fractions. Once she finished the fraction section of her Harcourt Learning Math Skills book I knew that she was not ready to move on just yet.

We bought the Master Skills Math, Grade 5 book and spent more time working on fractions and by the time she finished the fractions in that book, I felt that we were ready to move forward.

I really enjoy being able to dip into different workbooks and computer programs to help the girl's understand their lessons.

While Lily was plowing happily through math, she was also wailing, moaning, thrashing and weeping over writing.

"It's so hard! My hand hurts! I don't know what to write!" she whined.

Meanwhile, Rebecca was in her room doing her writing assignments and then writing stories on her own about her dolls and their adventures.

For Rebecca we were able to use the writing lessons in her book. She enjoyed them for the most part. We skipped anything redundant or boring and she just wrote and wrote. La la la!

I decided to take a different approach with Lily and have her write letters. She wrote letters to her grandparents and to her pal Charlie. She complained a bit less about that.

Then Amy and I got together and came up with a homeschool project for Rebecca, Lily and Charlie to do together. We read the poem "The Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll and talked about the use of language in the work. Then we talked about two animals which are mentioned in the poem, but not explained, the JubJub bird and the frumious Bandersnatch.

The assignment was to read the poem and then draw a picture of either the JubJub bird or the Bandersnatch and then write about them. The piece could be a poem or a story. Rebecca immediately got to work on her picture and story. Lily and Charlie needed more prodding, but are nearly done.

I have loved this assignment. So easy to do and so fun.

When the kids and I looked over the work we need to finish by mid-June we got a little nervous.

It's possible that the warm weather has been distracting us from our studies.

We came up with a plan and are now plowing through the work. Spelling should be done in a few weeks, along with Language Arts. Math and writing will continue in some form over the summer so we don't lose too much momentum. I'm also making notes on what I want to do differently next year and what worked well.

In the meantime, bring summer on!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My boots and the truth about "running errands"...

For the past three nights I have been having dreams of junking. What does this mean? What kind of freak actually dreams of going to stores filled with the things that other people have thrown out?  What does that say about me?

This morning I got up early, at least by homeschool standards, and exercised. Then I showered and ate and woke David to tell him that I was going to "run some errands".

"Running errands." Sounds mysterious and important doesn't it?  It could mean anything. I could be going to the post office or the hardware store or negotiating peace in the Middle East.

When I say that I am running errands it usually means one thing- that I am sneaking out junking but want to sound like I am doing important housewifely duties.

That is exactly what I did when I told David that I was running errands. I made it sound like I had a very important grocery store trip to make. Then I just happened to go to a grocery store in another town that just happens to be near Global Thrift.

Junk needs me.

I found eight of these lovely Corelle plates. They are so cheery!

I snapped this up as soon as I saw it. Butter yellow Fiestaware mug.

Check out the price!

I also found some cute Oilily clogs, J.Crew polka dot flip flops and a Free People skirt. I spent two hours leisurely shopping while my family thought I was slaving over coupons at the grocery store.

There are not enough Hail Mary's to absolve me of my sin.

My friend Edwidge has been asking me for a photo of the boots that I found on Mother's Day. I wish you could hear her ask. She is French (and very skinny of course) and has the sexiest French accent. She cannot be denied, so I am posting some pictures of the boots.

One more thing, for those of you keeping track. I have now lost 33 pounds and for the first time in a year, Wii Fit called my weight normal.

I've never been normal in my entire life. Wii should say, "Freak, at a healthy weight". For now my appetite for junk and chocolate has been satiated and I can go to bed content.

Unless I have the junk dream again...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Homeschool cliches and bad bears...

There are stereotypes, cliches even, about homeschoolers.

People imagine that homeschoolers are weird and dorky.

My kids have always been weird, the little one especially. They have also found a way which is guaranteed to get me to postpone lessons. All they have to do is play together.

A few days ago those clever and wily homeschoolers devised a plan to both make me abandon their lessons and allow them cake.

Lily has two bears, Teddy and Bella. Bella is a good little bear. She cleans her room and is polite.

Then there's Teddy. Teddy has trouble pronouncing "r's". Recently, he smoked some cigars and threw up. He is impulsive and a little rude. We love him anyway.

Rebecca and Lily decided to have a birthday party for Bella. Teddy had trouble not being the center of attention.

They played Pin the Tail on Teddy. Teddy cheats.

After Teddy got in trouble for cheating there was cake.

Teddy has a strange life. I find him in weird places. Sometimes I just find pictures of him in my camera that Lily has taken of him.

Why is Teddy sitting outside wearing only a diaper? I do not have the answers people.

Lily and Teddy share a birthday and when it was Teddy's birthday Rebecca made sure that Bella made a card for Teddy.

"Dear Teddy,

Even though you are loud and annoying I love you.

Love, Aunty Becca"

I don't think that Rebecca had a lot of trouble channeling this sentiment.

My homeschoolers may be weird, but I cherish their play. To be a sister and to be loved, even if you are loud and annoying is quite a gift.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Day of epic wonderfulness...

This day rocked.

I slept late. I ate chocolate.

Then I sent my children off to Hebrew School and did not set my eyes upon them for seven hours of whine free joy.

I love my little bundles of joy, but now that we homeschool I spend all of my time with those bundles and sometimes, ever so occasionally I want them to leave me the hell alone. Just for a bit. So I can junk in peace.

Amy has the same problem, so we made a date for Mother's Day. The plan: junk until we puke.

I picked her up at 11:30 and we hit the ground running.

First we went to Urban Renewals where we spent two hours trying on clothes that a few months ago would have been far too small on us. There were so many wonderful moments of trying on mediums and smalls to discover that, yay! They fit!

After our retail orgy at Urban Renewals we required sustenance and went over to Zaftig's where we pigged out because it's Mother's Day dammit, and Mother's Day calories do not count.

Then, because we were without our children who would have been begging us to take them home, we continued the fun at Goodwill where the junk gods smiled down upon me and blessed me with the most amazing suede black boots I can ever hope to own in my life. The are Nine West, have a high stacked heel and go all the way up to my knees. 4.99.

On the way home we passed an estate sale and even though we were exhausted we stopped to look. Because we had no children and we could. I found a few cute things for my home. Why yes, I did take pictures!

That picture is of Rebecca in a cute shirt I bought her at the junk store.

The turquoise rimmed plates and the green plaid blanket were from a junk trip to Global Thrift during the week.

It was such a lovely day. I am so grateful to have a husband who understands my need to disappear from my family from time to time and for being able to spend the day with a pal who loves the junk hunt as much as I do.

Bliss and joy all around.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

In which I anger birds and emasculate my husband.

This morning David called me from New York.

"Thanks a lot dear. Now the entire internet is laughing at me because I went to my dance class and didn't get rid of the bird," he grouched.

"Do not," he continued, "Try to remove it yourself. I am going to do it. Saturday morning. Because I have a dance class tonight."

I had no desire to remove the bird myself.


He told me not to do it.

And because I am an idiot, I could not resist attempting this project myself.

I armed myself with a flat head extra long screw driver, a plastic bag, some rags and all the spunk I could muster. Then I got to work.

Victory 1: Removing the air conditioner from the window without dropping it onto the roof.

Victory 2: Not falling out of the window. The children were holding my legs, which became more of a hazard then a help as they kept forgetting their job and would let go at key moments.

Victory 3: Poking out bits of nest and the wire screening that the previous owners put in to prevent birds from nesting in there.

Victory 4: Not being intimidated by the angry wrens who were making threatening gestures at me. Bird thugs, but I was tough.

Fail 1: Calling down to my children to bring me a salad fork and a serving fork. The salad fork was initially helpful in pulling out more bits of nest. It was also a fork that I was sad to see fall into the gutter when I dropped it.

Fail 2: Using the serving fork to pull out nest and in the process startle a young bird who was still in the vent and very much alive. I would describe the experience of having a terrified bird shoot out of a nest as unsettling. Sort of in the same way The Birds was unsettling.

Fail 3: Failing to see the second young bird coming out of the vent which caused me to swear in front of my children.

Fail 4: My failure to produce a carcass. It's in there somewhere, but not in a place where a housewife armed with kitchen utensils and whose legs are being secured by her children can reach.

Having failed to achieve the removal of the dead bird I went back into the bathroom and took apart the light again. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I had dislodged the bird and its maggot friends into the light. Nope. The bird continued to mock me.

Finally I decided to run the heat in the light fixture and the exhaust at the same time, and just dry the hell out of whatever is in there. After a few hours of running those and having the window open I am happy to report that the smell is nearly gone.

After I was done I called David to tell him that I had done it myself.

Unfortunately I had to leave him a message. It was time for his dance class.

Recap: I hung out of the window and was nearly attacked by birds. David went to ballet class.

Marriage is a quirky beast.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dead bird detention...

Before I begin this post I need to give you a dead bird update.

It's still in the vent. It still stinks. Not only did David leave town without removing it, he went to his dance class instead. Tomorrow when he gets home he going to directly from the train to, yes, you guessed it, his dance class.

I could not make this stuff up.

I may have to do it myself tomorrow, though I'm still not over the last time I removed a dead bird.

I have some more bird news for you- though happily these birds are not dead, well, not yet anyway. Nature can be a cruel mistress, as I know all too well.

Last week David announced that a family of wrens had built a nest in our shed, right behind the bottle of RoundUp. He found four little eggs and one uneasy mama who watched his every move while he took out the lawn mower. By yesterday they had hatched! Today I took my camera in for a peek.

When I first walked in the babies were camouflaged in the shadows. Then I said, "Tweet! Tweet!" and they poked their little heads up hoping for lunch.

Birds are so sweet when they are not dead and rotting in my exhaust vent.

Anyway, we can move past the birds. Well, you can. I am stuck in dead bird detention.

I was going to blog about homeschooling and our new homeschooling project, but this bird situation has me too dejected. The smell, have I mentioned the smell? The dogs keep staring up at the vent. They know that there is something in there which they would love to either roll in or eat. Hell, who am I kidding- they'd roll in it and then eat it.

So here I am, a homeschooling mom who spends her days trying to educate her babies, train her dogs, write television pitch books and rid the house of animal hair. As if that is not pathetic enough, I now find myself laying awake at night worried about the inevitable moment of folly when I dare to hold my breath and pee in the downstairs bathroom only to discover too late that the maggots have made their way through the vent and are landing on my head.

Please send Brad Pitt, chocolate and a babysitter. Mama's gone a bit crazy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The saga of the death continues...

So, there continues to be the smell of death in the downstairs bathroom. Some of you may remember last years dead bird incident. The last time that Death made a deposit of stinking rot in the bathroom David was away. I was forced to remove a foul baby bird carcass from the light fixture by myself.

I have still not recovered.

When I noticed the smell two days ago I was elated because Readers, David was home and would have to deal with it this time!

Last night after copious nagging, he finally headed into the bathroom.

"It doesn't smell that bad!" he lied.

I gave him my "I-know-exactly-what-you-are-up-to-and-don't-even-try-getting-out-of-dead-bird-removal" look and he got back to work.

First he removed the glass that covers the bulb.

"See?" he asked, "There's nothing there."

"You have to remove the housing completely!" I responded.

I'm not going to say that my husband was being a wuss. Because that would be unkind, even though it might be true.

Anyway, he removed the housing and the smell was stronger- only no carcass.

This is very bad. This means that the dead bird is stuck on the outside of the vent- the part of the house which previously had an air conditioner dropped on it. Fishing out the dead bird is going to require:

a. Removing Rebecca's air conditioner
b. Removing the top of the exhaust vent
c. Hanging out of the window while trying to remove a dead bird
d. Not falling out of the window

My husband has managed to avoid this today and he is traveling tomorrow into Friday.

Saturday is Rebecca's birthday party and Sunday in Mother's Day.

I have a very bad feeling that there is a dead bird extraction in my future.

Someone will pay...

Monday, May 3, 2010

An invitation which should not be ignored...

Rebecca turned eleven this weekend.

I think that eleven might be when the crazy starts, where one minute the world is light and joy, and by the next moment the world has become simply intolerable. There is weeping, there is laughing, there is glowering.

We try to keep up with the current mood. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we succeed.

Saturday was magical.  I took Rebecca and her best friend Ava to the American Girl store where they spent the money which they had been carefully saving for months. They hemmed and hawed and considered and reconsidered and finally made their selections.

At home there was cake and pink lemonade and s'mores.

My folks arrived on Sunday for Rebecca's birthday dinner with several cases of bottled water and three gallons of hand sanitizer. Thankfully, steaks do not require water and so no special preparations had to be made in order to dine well.

Lily seemed a bit off during the day and complained of a headache. I thought that she was tired and hungry and that feeding her dinner would solve her misery.

When she refused birthday cake I should have been concerned.

When she said that she had a headache behind her eye and wanted motrin I was concerned.

I put a cool washcloth on her head and that seemed to help. She wanted to read in my room until bedtime which seemed sensible.

We were all in the bedroom, enjoying the air conditioning when Lily asked in a small voice, "What does it feel like when you are going to throw up?"

Reader, if your child asks you this question, it is an invitation, a sweet little suggestion that you need to act fast.

"Do you think you are going to throw up?" David asked as I reached to scoop her out of bed.

She was nodding as I pulled her off the bed and onto the floor where she proceeded to empty the contents of her stomach onto the wood floor.

It'd been seven years since her last encounter with vomit and the entire experience both bewildered and fascinated her.

"So that's what throwing up feels like!" she exclaimed.

Then she looked at me and gravely added, "I'm really glad that I didn't have any birthday cake tonight."

Once Lily was resting and feeling much better, David and I got to start wondering if she had gotten sick from drinking contaminated water, had a virus or just had a headache go bad.

This morning she felt much better though she had a low grade fever.

Between the birthday excitement, the water crisis, Lily's barf and fever, and Rebecca's lunacy, I am all tapped out.

I need me some junking and god help anyone who stands in my way tomorrow.

PS. Something smells very dead in the downstairs bathroom exhaust vent. I am ignoring it. Just thought you should know.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Springing into action!

We are having a crisis!

A water main has broken and we are all using untreated pond water for our washing and hydration needs!

This is one of those times where it rocks to be me.

Why? Why would it be great to be me during a crisis?

Because I like to plan! Because I assume the worst! Because there is nothing that mobilizes me like a good disaster!

In the months leading up to Y2K I stockpiled toilet paper, diapers and canned goods. We didn't run out of toilet paper until June!

When I learned of this crisis of hydration I did not run to the store to fight my neighbors for overpriced bottled water. I simply went to my disaster supply kit for a few essentials.

I also brought these upstairs.

They have an expiration date of 2007. Whatever. It's water without pond scum or poop.

I also have these matches. Just waiting for the perfect combination of cold and damp to use them.

I will say this though. If my supplies run out before the water is restored I am running to my dad's house on the cape where the water is clean and the grandparents are plenty!