Friday, September 29, 2006

Earning a little good will

So several months ago, my mother-in-law asked me to go to this family reunion/retreat sort of thing. It’s all women – her large group of female cousins and their daughters or daughters-in-law. It sounded like a great opportunity to meet some of Mark’s extended relatives. And, let’s face it, it's a weekend away, which is kind of a nice change of pace (though I will admit I sobbed like a baby this morning as I walked out the house knowing I would not see my girls for well over 48 hours).

Anyway, I leave for the retreat straight from work tonight. It’s at a camp owned by one of the daughters. It’s a five-and-a-half hour drive from where I live, but my sister-in-law (who I absolutely adore) is riding with me, so I’m sure the time will pass quickly.

So what’s the catch? Why is this blog worthy? Well, we learned THREE DAYS AGO that the camp has NO ELECTRICITY and NO HEAT. OK, technically it has lights and stuff, but everything is run on a generator so you have to (as the e-mail to us all so eloquently put it) “conserve, conserve, conserve.” This means “no hairdryers” and then this: “we will all know if you dried your hair.” G.U.L.P.

The e-mail also states, “Our biggest power pull is the well. Any running of water drains the generator batteries rapidly. Remember, if we loose our generator power, we will have no light, no water, no toilets!” Well, this is sounding more and more fun all the time!

Let me tell you, I’m not really a “roughing it” kind of girl. I thought I was roughing it when Mark was redoing one of bathrooms and we only had one toilet for several weeks. I like my hair dryer. And my curling iron. And I like to be warm. I like a hot shower and a well lit room. I don’t like having to sleep in 18 layers of clothes (have I mentioned that the weather up there calls for 50-degrees during the day and into the 30s at night)? Oh and rain. Let's not forget the rain, because being cold is bad enough, but damp cold is even worse.

This morning I lingered under the hot water of my shower and washed my hair three times. I’m actually considering not showering all weekend, which I find muy gross, but honestly I’d rather be stinky than freeze my ass off in a cold shower, then step out into a frigid room and walk around shivering for two hours waiting for my hair to dry just so it can look like shit anyway.

I’m sure that in the end, it will be a nice weekend. I’ll meet lots of fun women, eat great food (and drink lots of wine) and undoubtedly laugh a lot, but I’m thinking I am owed some major daughter-in-law karma points for this. That and maybe another night of babysitting.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Someone else's trash . . . .

Peanut has been asking for a dollhouse since before her birthday in mid-August. I searched the internet for the right one, but they were either:
A) too expensive and, in my opinion, beyond her needs with many fine details and features that she’d likely destroy before ever appreciating them, or
B) outright babyish – something she’d outgrow in a year or so.

So her birthday came and went with no dollhouse. And she’s kept asking.

Driving to the gym Friday morning, we went through a neighboring town that was gearing up for bulk trash pickup. Nearly every house had old mattresses, broken furniture, moldy couches and bins of miscellaneous junk lined up in the driveway. And in front of one house was a big pink and white dollhouse. I spied it from about 100 yards, but it was broad daylight and this was a busy road. I kept right on driving without much further thought.

Many hours later I was driving home from the grocery store on the same road. Now, it was dark and the road more deserted. As I approached the discarded house, my brain started to twirl. Maybe I should take it? People do it all the time, right? I’ve even heard stories of people who drive through swanky towns with trailers and trucks the night before bulk pickup, grabbing everything that looks halfway decent by the light of the moon.

But I kept driving. I drove for five more minutes, but I could not stop thinking about that house.

I turned around.
And drove by again, chickening out.
But now I was driving away from home and had to turn back and pass it again, so I slowed enough to assess the situation.

Was the dollhouse in good shape?
Did it look like it was in one piece?
Most importantly, would there be any witnesses?

There was in fact someone in the living room watching TV. But it’s dark, my mind said. They’ll never see you. And even if they do, so what? Is someone really going to barge from the house, screaming, “Stop thief! Unhand my trash?”

Of course not! But the shame of being seen taking someone else’s trash is a powerful thing. I kept driving.

Then turned back again. I turned around five times in total before finally getting the nerve to pull over just beyond the light cast by the lamp on the porch, throw my car into park, wait to be 100% sure there were no approaching cars, and then run – like I have never run before – back to grab that house.

I felt like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible running quickly on my toes so my feet wouldn’t slap on the pavement. As I lifted the house I realized it was haphazardly filled with plastic furniture, which shifted a bit as I picked up the house. In reality, the sound was probably barely audible, but to me was the equivalent of cymbals crashing together. I raced back to my car trying to keep the house steady and prevent the furniture from falling noisily to the ground.

I shoved it into the passenger side and for one horrifying moment I didn’t think it was going to fit. Was I really going to have to run and put it back?!? Please, God, I thought, please let this friggen’ thing fit. I’ll stop swearing and nibbling from the bulk bins at Whole Foods – I promise. And then, with one more good shove, it did. (Thank you, God! Though I will miss those organic chocolate chips.) I shut the door as quietly as I could, ran to the driver’s side and raced off. The house was mine!

Upon arriving home I inspected it with a flashlight. It was covered in mud and sand – probably having spent the last days of its played-with life in a backyard sandbox, and some of the fixtures were missing. The stairs have no banister, just big holes where the posts used to be. And the pedestal sink in the bathroom is missing its basin. Many of the decorative decals are wholly or partially gone.

But otherwise, it’s in good shape. While the rattling furniture - a cradle, sofa, some chairs, an entertainment center and double bed – nearly gave me a heart attack at the scene of the crime, it’s been a huge hit with the wee ones. Even more surprising, once I replaced the battery, the little light that sits on the dresser in the second bedroom still works. A good scrubbing with soap and water (and bleach, because I am anal like that) and it’s really perfectly adequate.

Peanut and Loaf have been in seventh heaven since I brought it in on Saturday. Plus, it makes me feel good that it’s not clogging up a landfill somewhere (reduce, reuse, recycle and all that good stuff).

Combine that with scoring the last T.M.X. Elmo (which is for Christmas) for $37.45 on the shelf at Target of all places on Saturday (when all week I’ve been watching people pay $75 to $200 for them on ebay), and I’m pretty much feeling like Toy Providing Mom of the Year.

Hours of fun:
Dollhouse 2

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Monster spots

Loaf has come down with a lovely case of roseola. While fairly benign, it makes her look like a spotted snow leopard. Lovely.

Peanut thinks it’s just the greatest thing ever and keeps calling them “Monster Spots,” based on this interactive story on the Sesame Workshop website.

Loaf can be quite the little monster, so that seems like a pretty appropriate description. Maybe I should appeal to the American Academy of Pediatrics to change the name? I’m sure there are other parents out there who would support me on this.

Monday, September 18, 2006

No seven-year itch here

Seven years ago today, I stood under a magnificent blue September sky and a canopy of hydrangea and ivy and got married. It doesn't seem possible that seven years have passed since that amazing day.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I can still see the smiling faces of our dearest friends and family, still feel the jittery little heart palpitations as I listened to the music cueing up, still recall the thrill at spying Mark waiting at the end of the aisle, and still vividly remember the joy that filled me head to toe throughout the entire ceremony.

Wedding ceremony 9/18/99

We’ve had a great run. Obviously our relationship has evolved a lot in the last seven years, but he still gives me little jittery heart palpitations, spying him can still give me a thrill, and being with him still fills me with joy from head to toe. Love you, babe! Looking forward to the next seven, seventeen, seventy years with you.

Mr. & Mrs. - 9/18/99

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Get yer shore recap here

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long. For the past week, we’ve been here looking at this:


All I can say is: Ahhhhh! Even though the weather was less-than-great (really, mostly it was less-than-good), with our days consisting of either being pelted by sand due to gusting wind and rough surf (thank you Hurricane Florence) or dealing with clouds and rain, we still had a really fantastic time. I mean, it’s the beach (or ahem, The Shore if you are trying to fit in with the Jersey crowd).

The girls had a fantastic time. Peanut showed us all that she truly has NO FEAR as she rushed repeatedly toward the crashing waves. I dread the day she is actually faster than us. (Reason #493 why I need to keep going to the gym). Here she is running on the dunes right in front of our house.


Loaf enjoyed the beach on the non-windy days and also had a good time playing at the edge of the surf (she wasn’t quite as brave as her big sister, but she wasn’t overly afraid either). She was absolutely determined to catch herself a seagull, but thankfully failed in her mission. Oh, and though we forgot our beach ball, she made a great substitute:

Loafie Toss

We walked on the beach, swam a bit, dug some good-sized holes in the sand, ate plenty of delicious food and relaxed a lot.

In the midst of our vacation, we drove home for a couple of days so Peanut could start preschool (this is what you get when you book a vacation a year in advance). It went off without a single hitch. Despite a lot of pre-drop off nerves and questions, she did great. She walked into her classroom, took one look at the big bin of plastic dinosaurs, and completely forgot who we were. She barely looked up to wave goodbye when it came time for us to leave her there.

It made me feel . . . good, I guess, that she’s so independent, but the idea of her needing me less and less each year cuts deeply into my heart. :-(

Here she is on her first day:


So that’s my update for the moment. I’ll be back into the swing of posting once I get through the 80 pounds of post-vacation laundry that is taking over my basement.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Use the potty or else!

So I just came back from parents' orientation meeting at Peanut's new pre-school. Despite some of my earlier reservations, I'm feeling better and think it's going to be a great school for her. The people are very friendly and nice and welcoming and seem to all really love kids.

But one little thing does have me kind of cracking up. As you know, we're having a little trouble with potty training. And this school wants them to show up ready for toilet duty (or would that be doody?? Heh. Sorry, but 9-year-old boy humor is tough to avoid when discussing poopy diapers).

Anyway, diapers are outlawed - the closest thing allowed is a pull-up. Only the two school administrators are licensed to clean up "accidents," so if a child has an "accident," the teacher has to march them up to the front office to get changed. (I put accident in quotes, because I don't really think it is in an accident if said child deliberately and happily poops in her pants and has absolutely no problem WHATSOEVER doing so.) AHEM. Not that my child does that or anything. . .

During orientation, one of the administrators said it's perfectly normal for a child to regress at the start of preschool, and they fully expect lots of accidents for the first few weeks, but (and I quote), "if it's still happening in December, you'll be getting a phone call from me." Oh yeah? Saying what? That contrary to what all the experts say I should start pushing her to use the toilet? That accidents are bad, bad, BAD and little girls who don't use the potty get monsters in their closets?

Maybe I can sit her down and take away some of her future privileges. Use the potty or you're grounded for the junior prom. Every day you don't use the potty is one day in the future you'll be denied the keys to the car.

I could try scare tactics: I'm going to tell all your future boyfriends that your pre-school administrator had to make THE PHONE CALL to Mommy because you wouldn't use the potty.

I suppose could try grounding her, but that's probably a greater punishment to me than to her.

Her teachers were actually much more reassuring, telling me that a little peer pressure is a wonderful thing and seeing the other kids in her class use the potty is often just the trick that's needed. Which made me feel a WHOLE lot better. Until I realized that Peanut is currently the only girl in her class. But now I'm ready. And when she comes home and pees standing up I won't make a fuss, so long as she hits that little plastic bowl.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

More evidence that you can't always believe what you hear

Whoever said that girls are easier to potty train, should be whipped repeatedly with a pair of sopping wet "big girl" underwear.

That is all.