Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sigh. The Ants Came Back...

You guys? I don't understand.

I gave up my Keurig to the ants. They won. They made me and my Keurig their bitch. No more fancy coffee maker for me. In fact, I have been so traumatized by my Keurig ant farm that most mornings I use a Starbucks Via.


Last night as I was secretly getting ice cream tidying the kitchen I noticed an ant. Then I blacked out. When I came to I realized that I was not looking at one little ant, but rather at least twenty.

I may have freaked out. Freaking out may have included swearing and unleashing the unholy powers of Raid on the kitchen. I figured that wiping everything down, removing the tasty stink big carcasses from the window sill, and spraying Raid everywhere would be enough, and yet this morning there were ants.

Mocking ants. Douche bag ants. The worst ants on the planet.

I removed everything from the counter and sprayed and sprayed and sprayed until my finger ached from the chemical devastation.

So far there have been no more ants, but I know their tactics. They like to lure me into a false sense of security and then BLAMMO- the ants have taken over a major appliance.

Not this time people. This time I am waging full scale war. I will spray every ant which comes near my house. I will take no prisoners and as god is my witness, I will never drink ant coffee again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On turning 40...

For many months I have known that turning forty would be rough. It's a silly thing, age, and yet forty has always seemed like the beginning of the end, an age when even venturing into the juniors department would become off limits, when I could no longer pretend to be a young woman.  I think that turning forty, in combination with the stress of our move and with having to start a new life felt very big indeed.

Amy's arrival brought comfort, but I still felt shaky. We got our toes done and went to the pool, but I could not ignore the feeling of being overexcited and a little too keyed up, of the day feeling too big- too important. At dinner I could not eat, though I thoroughly enjoyed opening my mother's birthday gift to me- a box filled with forty surprises, one for each year of my life. Some were silly, like the musical "birthday hat" and others were just perfect, like the turquoise Fiestaware salt and pepper shakers.

By the time the day ended I was exhausted, but I did not sleep well and by the morning I could no longer deny that I was a complete wreck. Amy and I had planned a day of junking and nachos, but instead I spent the morning with a half a Valium and some rest. In the afternoon we made it out to a junk store, but I felt sick and exhausted.

"What if I never feel better? What if I never feel hungry again?" I asked Amy.

"You'll be okay." She reassured me.

Last night we ordered in some chicken and watched 30 Rock in bed and slowly I started to relax. By the time I went to bed, this time with a full Valium, I could feel my appetite coming back which was a relief. I slept well, though I dreamed of sharks, but woke up feeling hungry and measurably better.

For breakfast I cut a slice of thick crusty whole wheat bread. I put the pieces of bread into the toaster and waited. The edges browned and the slices steamed and toasted. I took them out and spread them with butter. The butter melted into the bread, and when I finally bit into them I knew I would be okay.  The toast was perfect, crisp, and buttery. My birthday was over and I was eating toast.

Today Amy and I went to a different junk store, ate some nachos, and then we all went out to dinner and I can say that I have recovered and for that I am very grateful. I am most especially grateful for Amy who flew here expecting fun and mostly spent the time talking me out of a very brief 24 hour mid life crisis. How wonderful is Amy? This is the gift she made me for my birthday.

I think forty is going to be okay.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beer and Cheezits- Friend Bait

As some of you may know tomorrow is my 40th birthday.

I've been feeling kind of sad about this, mostly because I have been missing Amy so much. We've spent the past bunch of birthday's together and when David told me earlier in the week that she couldn't come visit I didn't want to believe him.

I kept hoping that it was all a ruse and that she would in fact be coming. As today went on I searched for clues as to what David might have planned, and as nothing seemed to be happening I got very very depressed.

All week I have been secretly preparing for Amy. I bought beer and cheezits, put fresh pillowcases on the guest bed, and quietly hoped that come Thursday Amy would arrive. It got to be so that I could picture her walking into the house and in every imagining I burst into tears at the sight of her.

By this afternoon I gave up hope. It seemed like the cheezits were not going to be enough to make Amy magically appear and I became despondent. I would turn forty without nachos, without junking, and without my best friend.

This may be why when David suggested that I go junking tomorrow by myself I began to weep and he was forced to perform a noble act of mercy and ruin the surprise that my dear sweet Amy is coming tomorrow.

Thank fucking god, because man, it was looking bad over here.

Watch out Potomac- we'll be getting our freak on!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When the Glass Broke

When the call came
That the shelf broke
And that the jars
Of buttons
Crashed to the floor

No one panicked.

You called to let me know
That the buttons
Were scattered
And mixed with the glass
A jumbled and dangerous field
Of color
Round and Sharp.

When you both offered
To separate the glass from the prize
And told me gently
And sadly
That my favorite pitcher
Was shattered
It was as much
An act of love
And maturity
As any kiss or word

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lame, boring housewife nonsense...

I think that I may have mentioned once or five times that one of the top five reasons that I like to homeschool is because I do not have to wake up early to do it. Waking up early just feels, well, unnatural. Unpleasant. Just plain old wrong. Left to our own devices the children go to bed at about 11pm and I fall asleep around 1:30am. Then we all sleep until about 9:30 and honestly, it just feels so damn good.

This week however Rebecca and I are living like normal Americans and getting up early so that I can have her at horseback riding camp at 9am. Look, I know that it's not actually that early, but it is to us so you can just shut up.

Anyway, I woke up at 7:30 this morning so that I could get Rebecca to camp on time. This meant that I took the dogs along with me to camp where they had the thrill of barking at horses, growling at bicyclists, and shedding all over the car. I am just grateful that they are no longer covered in dead deer. After I dropped Rebecca off at camp I headed straight for the dog walk where, strangely enough, the deer bits were gone.

Where did they go? Where they eaten by a bigger dog? Hauled off by a psychopath?

I may never know.

The point of this is that by 10am I had finished the dog walk and had nothing but time and housewife chores to occupy my day.

Isn't this the most fascinating post you have ever read? Can you believe I don't have a book deal by now?

I did laundry, swept, and most importantly, cleaned out Rebecca's room which was, well, a horror.

Now it is 7:45 and I am properly exhausted. I still have some very important scrabble games to deal with and maybe I'll clean out the dryer filter.

Let's just all hope that something legitimately exciting happens tomorrow or I may have to resort to posting my grocery list.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A letter to the dogs...

Dear Dogs,

I understand that death is a mysterious and exhilarating event for you. It provides an olfactory playground second only to the smell of a particularly fragrant and gaseous canine anus.  I am not unsympathetic to your desire to inspect and sniff that which is deceased. I will even be so generous as to allow for some discreet nibbling.

However, when you roll, repeatedly onto the decaying bones of what I strongly suspect had formerly been one odocoileus virginianus, I become upset. As I bellow for all of Potomac to hear that you must not roll in carrion, you ignore me, and this too upsets me.

It upsets me to put your putrid bodies into my car and it upsets me that you attempt to sit on my lap while covered in what is most surely scrub typhus or even, dare I say it, the black death.

You see, you have sinned twice. You have sinned by being a filthy beast and you have sinned by ignoring me and as such you must be punished, for both of our sakes. If you roll in death, then you must be made clean.

Once the sink is being filled with warm sudsy water, it is simply too late too seek a pardon. The simple fact is that you smell rank. Your mournful eyes will only make me scrub harder, for I know that this is an event which will repeat itself again and again and again.

It is our fate. Yours is to be disgusting and mine is to be disgusted and we will continue on this way until our deaths, which will most assuredly be caused by something you rolled in.

Your Owner

Friday, July 13, 2012

I learn a hard truth about the French...

I had fully intended to continue my blog streak and write yesterday and in fact had gotten as far as starting a post when my computer choked on itself and I lost what I had written. What I had written was not very interesting as I spent most of Friday laying in bed, contemplating life, and reading a detective novel.

Basically, I was living the housewife cliche, sans bon bons which I was out of. Sure, I washed the floors and did the laundry, but that paled in comparison to the sloth in which I indulged. I wish I had spent time with an actual sloth, but that is a story for another time.

Last night we attended both Happy Hour at the pool and later a going away party for some neighbors who I had met once and David had never met at all. This is what happens when you are married to an extrovert- you get invited to farewell parties for strangers.

It was at this party that I learned something very interesting about the French. When we first moved here I met a lovely couple. He is French and she is German. They are beautiful and fun and Mr. Frenchman was very tolerant when I pulled out my wee (not oui) bit of french on him.

We were standing by the pool when it began to rain. Excitedly, I turned to him and said, "Mr. Frenchman! Il pleu!" He agreed and then complimented me on my accent which I can assure you no one has ever done in my entire life. I was tickled.

"David!" I called, "Mr. Frenchman approved of my accent!"

"Mr. Frenchman is being kind." He said.

We had an unpleasant conversation about this and agreed to disagree.

Last night at the party I met another frenchman. He was young and handsome and so naturally I needed to show off my french.

"C'est dommage! Pauvre chou!" I trilled.

Reader, he said in a gorgeous french accent, "Your accent is quite good."

And that was when I knew that the french lie.

I went back to Mr. Frenchman and asked for the truth. "Well," he said, "vee are taught zat ven ahn american attampts to speek ze language, vee compliment zem for trying."

The truth was not as bitter to swallow as it might have been. As a parent I know a thing or two about humoring children, and it is often an act of kindness. If the french wish to lie to me about my accent, I will accept it with grace, wine, and a very loud, "Oui! Oui!".

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Today the children and I left the house to go to a homeschool meet-up at a park, but it was hot and the kids didn't really click so we left kind of early. On the way home we needed to make a stop at that most wonderful of all suburban middle class places- Target.

It's July, so as far as the retail world is concerned summer is over and "back to school" is right around the corner. This used to aggravate the hell out of me because Target and Staples would be selling markers for .57 in July, but inevitably we would not have a list of school supplies until the second week of September when the Halloween things were being put on clearance to make room for Christmas decorations.

Now that I homeschool I can buy my supplies whenever the hell I want and laugh in the faces of people who will have to fight over the picked over sub-prime notebooks come fall. When your child comes home with a supply list which demands that the notebooks be in the colors  mauve, chartreuse, and peach because those are the only colors that Mrs. Mifflebottom will accept, well, at the moment I will enjoy my victory. That's right, people. I am with my kids 100% of the time, but I get first pick of school supplies and sometimes that's got to be enough.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Six Months...

On July 7th, we arrived at the six month anniversary of our move to Maryland, or as I like to call it, The South. People like to correct me all the time that Maryland is not The South, but since I most definitely used to live in The North, I will continue to say it. Plus, it amuses me.

Now that we have been here for six months I thought it might be a good idea to write a post move status report on Chez Shiny.

Professional Lives of the Adults:
David's job is great, though he eats out at so many swanky restaurants he has become a food snob. I continue to have a revenue stream of exactly zero, though I have devised a plan for making money someday when the children are off leaving their dirty clothes on their own floors and not mine.

The Children:
The children seem to be very happy.

Lily is always wandering the neighborhood like a young thug with her best pal A. They coordinate their outfits for maximum effect and scheme of ways to get ice cream money from me at the pool. (They have figured it out. They wait till I am enjoying myself and nag me until I throw money at them just to get them to go away.)

Rebecca also seems to be enjoying her new life. She gets to ride horses and work in the barn which fulfills many of her dreams all at once. She's made a good friend, enjoys the neighborhood kids, and delights in the autonomy of being a 13 year old with the overdeveloped sense of responsibility one usually finds in a 65 year old pensioner.

The Dogs:
Reliably idiotic. Less eating of feces from Sophie (Good). More peeing on Lily's bed from Pugsley (Bad).

The House:
We have now lived here long enough that I know exactly what should be done to it, but it is not my house so I stick to rearranging furniture and puttering about with my things. The owners did give me permission to paint the kitchen, but I am desperately trying to resist the urge.

The Junk:
The junk is a freaking dream come true. I could junk everyday here. It's abundant and cheap and glorious.

Home School:
After a rough start to the year I feel like we are really figuring it out. I've been teaching Lily by using The Phantom Tollbooth as a cornerstone and I can honestly say that it has changed everything. Similarly, I am using my AP English Poetry book with Rebecca and we are both loving it. This year we'll add some French and an online science curriculum.

Beasts, Vermin, and Carrion:
The ants in the Keurig incident of 2012 will always be remembered as the moment which reminded me why it's a good idea to always have wine in the house. There have been no other incidents in the house, for which I am grateful. In the neighborhood we have seen deer, woodpeckers, bunnies, groundhogs, and an egret- all alive. There was a mouse which insisted upon entering its death throws in the garage so that I could drive over it, but David disposed of it before any actual decomposition occurred. I was not so lucky with the deer carcass on the dog walk which smelled so foul and was so bloated, that I, an aspiring private detective could only gag, retch and hold my breath as I went past.

Speeding and Parking Tickets:
Some things are best left unsaid.

Medical Maladies:
Two cases of vertigo
One ear infection
Three sinus infections
One pulled hamstring
One wrenched neck
Many bug bites

Overall very nice, with the exception of the Derecho, which was an unmitigated bully.
No one has any tattoos and almost everyone is a lawyer. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Maryland is a great place which is mostly living up to its potential. Improvements would include friends and family moving here, fewer traffic cameras, and a corner bacon shop. A few tattoos would be okay too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Playing with Matches or The Week I was a Baptist...

When I was about ten years old I attended Vacation Bible School at a local Baptist church with my friend Heather. Vacation Bible School was nothing at all like Catholic school. For one thing, the Baptists seemed really happy. For another, they let us play with matches.

Yes, the Baptists gave us matches.

The year must have been around 1982, and perhaps the Baptist's belief that God would protect us from harm put their mind at ease as they explained the week's art project. They handed each of us a box of 500 matches, instructed us to light each one, blow it out, and then glue it to a cardboard cross.

No one had ever let me use matches before. They were strictly the purview of smokers, sinners, and psychopaths. I had no idea they were also the tools of Baptists!

I bet that right now you are thinking to yourself, "Hey! I would like to make a match cross for Jesus too!". All you need to do is get some instruments of Satan matches, some glue and follow the directions on this site.  You'll notice that the author emphasizes that this is not a craft for children. She is clearly not a Baptist.

Anyway, all week I lit matches and blew them out, thrilled with the feeling of responsibility which was never bestowed upon me by the nuns, whose idea of fun learning was a film strip about lepers. I glued them into place and still found the time to memorize all of the books of the Bible so that I could win a Snickers Bar. The nuns never ever gave me a Snickers bar, just a boat load of guilt and self loathing.

Matches and candy. A lesson for us all.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Riding the pharmaceutical rollercoaster ...

When the doctor prescribed a heavy dose of steroids for David's neck injury, I was concerned.

Deeply concerned.

I have been a witness to my husband on steroids before. There was the Great Poison Ivy Infection of 2006 and the even Greater Poison Oak infection of 2011. Both of the ailments were cured with steroids which brought out an aspect of my husbands personality that can best be described as


The doctor assured me that the equally heavy dose of Valium would keep him in lower case letters and I was comforted, though not convinced. For the most part it's been okay. David has generally been nice and mellow, and his neck muscles are definitely relaxing.

He's all like, "You are so pretty. Do you know how pretty you are?"

It's all great until the moment when the steroids have kicked in and but Valium has not. 

Suddenly we are back to, "OHMYGODWHYDOYOUHATEME?????"

It's given me some perspective into what it is like to live with someone with acute PMS, but that is another story entirely. The point of this story is that there have been several times over the course of the day when my sweet husband went all crazy town capital letters on me and I just stepped away from the nuttiness.

Tonight I found refuge while sitting outside with the neighbors drinking wine. In turns out that wine is the perfect antidote to your spouses roid rage. It may also be the antidote to PMS. I'll have to do some experimenting to be sure, but hey, someone has to do it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A complete list of maladies...

People who know me, and who know my husband know that he is the kind of guy who gives 110% all the time. He doesn't do anything half-assed which explains how he so often finds himself injured.

A few days before Derecho 2012, David played in the company soft ball game. Please allow those words to sink in "company soft ball game". Not major league baseball, not even the minors. When he told me he would be playing I begged him, "Please, please, please, do not hurt yourself."

It's not that I doubt his athleticism. It's exactly the opposite. David spent his entire childhood and a chunk of his adult life both playing competitive sports and dancing and his body is more than a little injury prone as a result. This is the daily battle of his life- wanting to push his body to its limits and his body refusing to play along.

About halfway into David's game I got a call. "Sara, I popped my hamstring. I think I can drive home, but you may have to come get me." Somehow he got himself home and once there he heated, iced and cursed his hamstring. It's not important how the injury happened (sprinted to catch a fly ball), what's important in this story is that he was already injured when he went body surfing at the Jersey Shore.

The Jersey Shore is a fantastic place filled with tattoos, Yankees fans, and funnel cake. It is also the place of David's youth which is probably why he could not resist revisiting his formative years in Jersey's warm waters. It started out great. I sat on the beach while David and the girls rode the waves into the shore. After the previous few days of heat, blackouts, and general chaos I was happy for a chance to relax and ignore my family, which is exactly what I was doing when I heard David yell.

He had just ridden a wave into shore and experienced a serious collision between the planet and his head. He sat up, shook his head a bit and then headed over to me to check for a blood. "Just enough to attract sharks." I assured him and he was back into the water.

The real pain did not come until the next day when in spite of the popped hamstring and having slammed his head into the sand, he decided to swim some laps at the pool, and that my friends is what lead to him waking me up on Saturday morning asking me to take him to the doctor. The laps seemed to have been the final straw, the indignity which caused David's body to completely revolt. His neck muscles went into a complete and unholy spasm.

The doctor examined David and pronounced the neck unbroken (yay!), but the muscles seriously strained. David was prescribed steroids, valium, and vicodin.

"Will the steroids give him roid rage?" I asked.

"Oh no" said the doctor, "the valium will smooth that right out."

And it pretty much has. Now David has to be still and let his muscles heal and make peace with a body which demands more gentle treatment. And valium, lots of valium.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Derecho Part Two...

By the time we got home from the mall on Saturday the news from Pepco was grim. The estimated power restoration would be a week. A week without power in May would have been inconvenient, but not impossible. A power outage coupled with 100 degree July days is another story entirely. We began to formulate a plan to get out of town until the power came back on.

We are very fortunate to have three sets of parents who all in their own ways have come to our rescue over the years. Our saviors this time were my dear in-laws who welcomed us into their house in NJ. They weren't in town, but they made arrangements for us to get into their home where we could wait out the black out in air conditioned comfort.

As we made preparations to leave we realized that we had to deal with the rapidly defrosting freezer. It was stocked up with steaks, chicken, hot dogs, pork chops, and spare ribs. The wine and beer in the fridge was still cold so we did the only thing which could be done. We invited the neighbors over for an "All the Meat You Can Eat Party".

It was difficult to say this and not feel like I was making a dirty joke. Okay, maybe I made some dirty jokes on purpose.

It turned into a super fun party. We ate outside on the deck by candlelight. David grilled meat for about an hour and nearly everything was eaten. After everyone left we dragged the mattresses downstairs in an attempt to find some relief from the heat. The children were exhausted from sleeping poorly the night before, the day at the mall, and our meat party in the darkness, so into sweaty heaps they collapsed and slept. David and I slept a few hours, waking frequently from the heat and quiet.

When morning came we emptied the contents of the freezer and refrigerator in bags and got them on the curb for the trash. We tidied up as best we could, packed up some things and hit the road towards a salvation manifested in the most unlikely of forms- New Jersey.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Say it with me, "Derecho"...

Last Friday night began like every other Friday night here in the fair shire of Potomac, which is to say it began with wine at the pool at 6pm. It was lovely. The children splashed about happily while the adults mused about the meaning of life while eating chips and sipping wine. After the pool we came home and sat on the lawn with the neighbors watching the fireflies flicker across the lawn and the kids scooter along in the dark.

In was in this near bliss that Brian, Lily's friend A's dad said, "Hey! There's a storm coming in! 70 mile an hour winds!" We could see the lightning in the distance. It was beautiful. The lights flashed, too far away to be a danger, but close enough to portend something big.

We chatted for a few more minutes, but as the storm drew closer we went inside. As I was putting batteries into the flashlight the power went out. And stayed out.

The storm hit. The rain fell sideways, though fell is not really accurate. It threw itself against the house while the wind tore down trees and the sky, no longer beautiful, appeared to be on fire. Being liberal arts majors with almost no good sense, we watched from the windows as the world ended outside.

Finally, the storm quieted but the power did not come back on. The temperature in the house was cool from the air conditioning which was a blessing, but with each hour that the power was out I could feel the temperature rising. We all slept badly that night. I slept with Lily in her room because she was scared and David had to sleep without his sleep apnea mask.

In the morning Lily and Rebecca decided that if the American Girl store in Virginia was open we should go there and I was too tired and bewildered by the storm to come up with a better plan. We piled into the car, charging our electronics as we went. The mall was opened and blissfully cool. We were not the only ones who thought to seek refuge at the mall. By the afternoon the mall was packed with storm refuges staking out outlets to charge phones, standing on long lines for food, and generally trying to make plans to get through something for which no one was prepared.