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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

F-150 and F-250

I don't want to say that we're nosy people. But, we're kind of nosy people.

Like, maybe when we were first married and living in an apartment, Rhett might just have used a cup on the ceiling of our apartment to listen in on the arguments of the couple who lived above us. Not that you needed any spy gadgetry. They were perfectly willing to yell obscenities at each other that the entire building could hear.

Or, Rhett might have used the peephole to keep himself informed on the comings and goings of the across the hall neighbors, who kept a dog when they weren't supposed to. Somehow, even with his extreme diligence, he missed it when they skipped out in the middle of the night, smearing their dog's used diapers down the hall and throughout their apartment. Oh, I miss apartment living.

Fortunately, we have other neighbors to spy on now, and we don't even have to listen to them argue. Unless we want to, and then I have to nonchalantly open the window and lay down on the floor in our front room so that they don't see me spying on their huge blow-up. Seriously? Who argues outside?

Our favorite set of neighbors right now is not the fighting couple. We've had our fill of that, thank you very much. Actually, we're totally enamored with a couple that we've only met once, at a neighborhood garage sale.

When we first moved in, the house across the street from us was occupied by a single man. We called him F-150, because he drove a Ford F-150 and we're totally creative with our nicknames. But pretty soon, we started noticing a Ford F-250 that was hanging around. At first it was just on the weekends. But then it started escalating more and more, and pretty soon I think even Rhett and I were wondering why she was bothering to pay rent anywhere else. Of course, we called her F-250. I'm not going to lie--we often wondered whether his manhood wasn't threatened by the fact that she drove a bigger truck than he did. But then Rhett pointed out that he got better gas mileage, which made us feel much more at ease with the whole arrangement.

Eventually, cohabitation occurred. But now we're really stymied. Because F-250 sold her truck and bought a Dodge Ram truck. And now F-150 is driving her Dodge to work, and she stays home with the F-150. See how complicated? Now we can't figure out if we should call her (the old F-250) F-150 and call him (the old F-150) Ram-bo.

I hate change. Especially in neighbors whom one knows almost nothing about. It really complicates our relationship.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Follow-Up

So, here's how the dishwasher incident would have gone down, if not for the unforeseen incident which I will discuss later.

I enjoyed all the ideas and comments so much, and I really felt like I had a whole zone defense going. Keep in mind, as I throw out sports terminology during this post that I have no idea what I'm talking about. Seriously. And don't worry that I'm one-hundred percent going to mix football metaphors and basketball metaphors. I'm like that.

I come home from grocery shopping. Rhett is blissfully feeding the children, who are blissfully eating the food (cold hot dogs) that he has given them. There's a lot of bliss. I cross to the dishwasher and open it up. I act surprised when it overextends its proper sphere by five degrees.

"How did this happen?" I look at Rhett accusingly. This is straight Mandy-technique. Because I'm pretty sure the best defense is a good offense.

"What are you talking about?" He doesn't even look up from feeding Wristy squash.

"THIS!" I point dramatically (because if you're going to gesture, you might as well gesture dramatically).

His eyebrows shoot up. "NO ONE has been near the dishwasher." His confidence is supreme. He knows that this didn't happen on his watch. But dear readers, you have equipped me well. I switch to man-to-man defense.

"Oh, maybe it happened when Spe climbed on the dishwasher. But, in my defense . . ."

"YOU LET HIM CLIMB ON THE DISHWASHER?" Rhett knows how to sack the quarterback before he can get a pass off. But don't worry. I pop right back up after I take a licking.

I wave his comment away, and then say, "In my defense, I think this comes from your side of the family . . . you know, this destructive behavior." A big thank you to Jill for this personal-attack technique.

Rhett's eyebrows shoot so high I can't tell where eyebrow ends and hairline begins.

"Really? This coming from the woman who at the age of twelve tore her wallpaper down in a fit of rage?" Whoa, where's all this unsportsmanlike conduct coming from? Total penalty!

I don't generally stoop to his level. "Oh, right! You seem to have forgotten the time that you popped the tops off all of your father's apple cider jars, completely destroying his two-year supply of fruit juice!" I said generally, right? Obviously this wasn't one of those times. There are technical fouls flying all over the place. But don't worry, the kids are still blissfully eating cold hot dogs.

"Heids, why did you let him do that?" There it is, people. I knew it was coming, you knew it was coming.

"Oh, fine!" I say with the air of a martyr. "I was upstairs, watching Dynasty and eating bon-bons and I just couldn't be worried about the fate of our dishwasher when Joan Collins was on the tube." (Thanks, Jen!) I just might have been a little bit sarcastic, too. I sometimes am.

Rhett rolls his eyes, before pulling his own martyr bit, making a big show of examining the dishwasher and sighing loudly at how broken it actually is. I make a big show of pretending that I don't hear him.

So, that's what would have happened, if for some bizarre-freak-of-nature-heretofore unprecedented-reason Rhett decided to log onto my blog without any prompting. Previously, I've had to be all, "Read my blog, Rhett." And he'd be all like, "Did you write about me?" And I'd be like, "No, I wrote about myself, as usual." And then he would be all uninterested, and then I'd read it out loud to him to force him to hear me talk about myself.

So when I did my whole, "WHOA! How'd this happen?" Rhett looked up calmly and said, "I read your blog. I've already fixed it. It took like two seconds and it wasn't that big of a deal."

I wish I would have examined the dishwasher more closely before I started the whole drama. Because he's right. He fixed it.

But I like my version better.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pointing It Out

I believe I've mentioned before that I have a life-changing phobia to alligators and crocodiles, no?

Today Veevs was reading a book while I was feeding Wristy.

"Mom! Mom!" She says, obviously excited.

"What?"

"LOOK!" and she thrusts her book under my nose so that I can examine a picture of a giant crocodile.

My family is so supportive.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why Did You Let Him Do That?

You know, I like to do the dishes while my kids are otherwise engaged, preferably while they are playing at a friend's house that is at least two miles away, but I also have been known to do the dishes during lunchtime. Like today, maybe.

There I was, cheerfully (sort of) rinsing away, loading up the dishwasher, when I looked down. Spe was there, despite the appetizing meal of leftover pizza and grapes that I had served him, standing on the door of the dishwasher, grasping the top rack and trying to grab a cup that is shaped like a boot (another one of Veev's trashures).

"Oh, Spe!" I say, "Get down, please. You're too heavy to stand up there." I lift him down, and then I look at my dishwasher door. It's definitely hanging lower than usual. Instead of a right angle, I now have an obtuse angle (see, contrary to popular belief, I did listen in geometry!). I groan under my breath, because I know what's coming later.

Undoubtedly, when Rhett sees this, he will freak out. This will probably be sometime this weekend, because I have a hard and fast rule to never point out this kind of thing to him. It's better that way. When he does come to me, salivating like a rabid raccoon, I always say blandly, "Oh, that happened a while ago. We've already talked about it." Even if it just happened an hour ago.

Even with my nonchalance, inevitably, a variant of this question will be posed to me: Why did you let him do that???? Which, really, I think is quite unfair. Does Rhett think that every time the kids get ready to do some demo work they come to me and say, "Mother, I would like to take this plug from my radio and scrape it against the wall so hard that it makes a giant hole in the sheet rock and also destroys my radio. Is that okay with you?" And does he really think that I would be like, "Sure, little tyke. You do whatever you want. It's your house, after all."

Because I'm pretty sure that IF my kids asked for my permission, I'd nix the destructo activities. Nip them in the butt, as my sister used to say. (She was almost twenty when she learned it was actually "nip them in the bud". I still get a kick out of that.)

So when Rhett asks me, "Why did you let him do that????" what do you think I should say? I promise to actually use the best one and report back on his reaction. Trust me, you'll want to know what effect your zinger has on my rabid raccoon-like husband. Oh yes, you will.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another Diaper Day

Once again, this is probably in poor taste. So, if you don't like hearing about my children's deep interest in bowel movements, don't read it. Here was today's diaper conversation:

Veevs: Mom, Spe has a poopy diaper!

Mom: 'Kay, Spe, let's change you.

Spe: (who has joined in the fun lately): It's little one?

Mom: Probably not, but let's check.

Veevs: THAT IS NOT A LITTLE ONE!

Spe: It's little one?

Mom: Nope, but let's change you. (Mom moves as quickly as possible, because she knows that prolonged diaper conversation is never wholesome around our house.)

Spe: It's giant one?

Veevs: Yes, it's GIANT, and it's stuck to your penis!

Mom: (Slapping the new diaper on crooked, but not caring): OKAY! Ivy, can you go get the Desitin for me? (Spe didn't really need it, but I have to separate the girl from her object of affection.)

Veevs: No, I'd rather just watch.

Mom: Nothing to see here. Let's move along. Spe, let's get these pants on you.

Spe: It's tiny one?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Creep!

You know, being a mother of a little girl is really stressful. Because, quite frankly, our society isn't exactly "girl-friendly". My first year as a high school teacher, I bought the book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher--a book which I highly recommend to every parent with a daughter. This book, which asserts that girls in America today suffer deeply because of the looks-obsessed, media-saturated, "girl-poisoning" culture in which they are raised. They lose the confidence that characterized them before puberty, and become divided halves--public self and private self, real me and pretend me, authentic self and culturally scripted self. (I actually had to buy this book three different times, as it was stolen from me by several girls on the brink. I loaned it to them because I thought it was so poignant and hopeful. It was stolen from me first by an anorexic teenager, next by a self-mutilator, and then by a druggie. Long story short, don't ask to borrow this book from me. I don't have it!)

I look at my little Veevs, who is so confident, so poised, so self-assured (at age four!) and I almost ache when I think that she might endure the sadness, the self-hatred and the anger that I felt as a teenager. I often find myself watching her play, wondering what our relationship will be like ten years from now. I worry that I won't know how to help her navigate her way through this culture that tells her that her breasts are too small, her hips are too big, or that her brain isn't necessary. How will I help her to understand that being a girl--especially a girl just like her--is a wonderful thing to be? I worry that my Veevs won't know how to be a strong woman. I worry that she'll buy into what society says she should do and what she should look like and how she should feel and forget about her own brand of beauty, her independence, her feelings.

With all this in mind, consider this scene from when Veevs was just over two years old.

Veevs and I were in the kitchen. I was cooking bacon for a salad that I was going to take to a family get-together.

Rhett walked by with Spe (who was just a baby) in his arms and said jokingly, "Girls upstairs making bacon; boys downstairs watching football!"

Ivy turned to me. "What a creep!" she proclaimed, as she rolled her eyes, clearly annoyed.

Indeed.

Maybe, just maybe, she'll turn out just fine.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hot Dog!

I'm not sure why my mom let us go to that house on the corner of our old street. But, we LOVED it. Their mom never cared if we spent all day playing Atari. In fact, sometimes she wouldn't let us play because she was too busy playing Ms. PacMan. True, the house smelled like musty cats (a direct result of having nineteen cats, I'm sure). But that was offset by the fact that they had a whole room dedicated to Lego building, especially if the Lego set had anything to do with Star Wars. And one of the cats was potty trained (sort of). So you always had to check the toilet before you went to the bathroom to make sure you didn't need to flush down Fluffy's previous efforts, if you know what I mean.

Looking back, that house at the end of our block, was disgustingly filthy. The people who lived there were genuinely nice people, but housekeeping just wasn't their thing.

Occasionally (I think as a last resort), my mom would drop us off there when she had to run errands or something. I will never forget that their mom fed us RAW, COLD hot dogs. I remember being totally grossed out. My mom always boiled ours for us, and we ate them on buns, with ketchup and mustard. But there, in the cat-hair house, no buns, no warm dogs--just straight out of the package hot dogs.

Do you know how my kids like their hot dogs? RAW and COLD--straight out of the package. I'm not sure how that happened, really.

That's what happens when you judge people. You suddenly look at yourself and you are doing exactly what you thought you would never do, that one thing that made you feel superior to someone else.

Except, I will NEVER potty-train a cat.

Well, check back with me in ten years.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How People Get From THERE to HERE

I'm totally fascinated by the way people navigate through blog world. I know how I do it: I go to one page and follow a link and follow another link and follow another link and then another, until I can't find my way back even if I want to. Even more interesting to me, though, is the way that total strangers find their way HERE, to my page.

My stat counter amuses me by giving me just enough of a glimpse into the process that I want to know even more. Here are some of the recent searches in Google that have led people HERE:

fear of alligators--Far and away, this is the number one Google search that leads people here. I'm not the only one, people, with this phobia. It's SOOOO good to have some company in the shallow end of the pool!

microphones in atonement--I gotta say, I'm kind of wondering who this person is. Like, is he wondering if Jesus used a microphone on the Sermon on the Mount? Is this a potential band name that he wanted to make sure wasn't taken? Trust me, dude. It's totally available.

pretty little teeSers--Well, yes, this one just made me want to puke. I've purposely changed the spelling, so that hopefully more pervs won't find their way here, but now I'm mostly worried that it will just be pervs who can't spell. I'm not sure which would be less welcome, quite frankly.

aligator (sic) used to teach kids swim--Great IDEA! Let's teach kids to swim with the alligators! That won't be harmful to their psyche in any way! Maybe we could offer swimming with the alligators as the next "experience" at Sea World! I think I've got a gold mine, here!

nits doing the dishes--I don't know what special kind of nits these are that do dishes, but I'll take them! As long as they'll live in my husband's hair and not mine. Nits are no longer welcome on my scalp, thank you very much!

peed pants--Yes, it happens every now and then. I have to wonder what inspired this search. Did someone just have an "accident" and turn to the web for confirmation and validation? Oh, you've come to the right place, little pants-wetter. Just put them in the wash immediately, that's all I ask!

alligator phobia--See? Lots and lots of hits with this one!

last name tingling--I knew that someone, somewhere would be interested in the Tingling Touches Club. Vindication at last!

pedicuredom--I've got a lot more going on than just pedicures, people. It's a freaking miracledom over here with me and my toes!

CHILDREN JUMP ON BED--I loved that this one was in all caps, like, HELP! MY CHILDREN ARE JUMPING ON BEDS AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO! Neither do I. Move along to someone smart's blog, please!

lice--Oh, lice. Apparently, you are still alive and infecting heads all over the world. Most of my international visitors come from this search topic.

Nancy Drew boyfriend--Well, duh. His name is Ned Nickerson and he is H-O-T! He can't help it that his last name sounds like a horse sound. He can, however, help Nancy Drew solve mysteries.

I think I'm probably giving excellent, reliable information to others on all of the above topics. Thanks for visiting, everyone.

At the very least, I hope you have all learned to NEVER, never, NEVER flush a baby alligator down the toilet. Please?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Growing Up


I've always loved my babies. I know for lots of moms the infancy stage is full of colic and crying and blowouts and all sorts of craziness, but I've really lucked out. My babies are pretty easygoing. They go to sleep when I lay them down, they generally eat when they are supposed to, and they smile on demand. They smell like heaven, too.

But I've noticed a big difference in the way that I approach mothering my third baby versus the way I mothered Veevs. With Veevs, I couldn't wait for each milestone. I fed her rice cereal the very day that she turned four months. I checked her mouth religiously for new teeth. I put her in a sitting stance early, and eagerly took my hands away, watching her figure out how to balance, how to stay upright. I had her cry through the night at four months. I would position her in crawling stance so that she could get a head start. I took her pacifier away at one year. I encouraged her to stand, to walk, to eat new foods, to clap her hands, to hold her own bottle, to drink from a sippy cup. Basically, I encouraged her to grow up.

I don't think what I did with her was bad or wrong or mean or anything. I just do it differently now.

I've cherished Wristy's baby moments more. I've been okay with the fact that he only has two teeth at ten months. I've cherished holding his bottle for him while he drinks. I've loved snuggling him to me in the middle of the night, and I just barely (at nearly ten months!) had him cry it out in the night. I don't care that he only army crawls; I think it's adorable. I didn't start him on solids until he was almost six months old. He thinks a sippy cup is a toy, not a drink. I hold him more, and let go less. Basically, I encourage him to stay my baby.

I look around at first-time moms that I know, and I think it's pretty common to do what I did with Veevs. It's so exciting to see your little one figure out the world, take their first steps, eat their first bite of real food. But I won't ever get my baby moments with Veevs back. She'll never go back to laying on my lap looking at me with her baby eyes that seemed eternally old and wise. She's growing up. It's still fun to watch. It's still amazing to see her figure out the world. I love every stage she's been through. I just wish I would have enjoyed each stage for all it was worth, instead of trying to push her into the next one.

Baby Wristy is lucky, I guess. He gets a mom who knows that he'll grow up on his own. I love his babyness--his rolls of fat around his arms, his soft baby hair, his delicious cheeks that I just want to eat. There's no need for me to push him. I'm just along for the ride.

I guess I've grown up a little bit myself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pain Factor

My dad, aka The Expert, is a foot doctor, which a lot people think is gross. But he just looks at it this way: "Your toe jam is my bread and butter!" He says that a lot. Also, when told that my foot hurts when I walk on it, he has been known to say, "Then don't walk on it." He's VERY compassionate that way.

Being a podiatrist has given The Expert a special glimpse into the facet of human life known as PAIN. I've had ingrown toenails done, and let me just say, the big toe is an extremely uncomfortable place to have a shot. Worse though, would be the heel of the foot. I've never had that done, but I've heard some of the screams.

The Expert's specialty in pain has caused him to create a personality type test based on an individual's reaction to pain. Fortunately for his theory (although perhaps unfortunately for him personally), he has three daughters who all react to pain in different ways (this was confirmed when we all had our ingrown toenails done).

For example, Heather is a Stoic. Heather's the oldest girl in our family: responsible, dependable, reliable. Before she decided to stay at home and dedicate her life to perfecting motherhood (which she does almost scarily well, considering she has three boys), she was an accountant. She is calm, collected, and even-tempered. She rarely loses her temper with her children or even her little sister who would snoop through her stuff trying to find love notes from boys. She generally thinks about other people first.

When Heather got her shot in her big toe done, this was her reaction:

Heather: ---

No reaction. She's a Stoic. She might have clenched her teeth a little more tightly, or she might have grabbed the armrests on her surgical chair a little more firmly, but not a word escaped her lips.

Ginnie, on the other hand, is the sister just younger than Heather and just older than me. She is a Laugher. Sunny by nature, Ginnie seems to sail through the challenges that life deals her without much stress. She rolls with the punches. As a teenager, she endured her little sister snooping on her phone conversations with her boyfriend with a great deal of patience. She has a quick sense of humor and was a junior high cheerleader who held her smile even though her bases were constantly dropping her on the gym floor.

This is Ginnie's reaction when she got her shot for the toenail fiesta:

Haaaa! Haaaa! Hoooo! Heeee! (I just want to point out that laughter is very hard to capture in writing. I did the best I could, okay?)

Ginnie is a Laugher. She laughs her way through pain. She can't quite keep all her emotions in, like a Stoic, but she can't quite let them all go, like our next type, the Screamer.

I am a Screamer. I'm prone to dramatics, maybe like the time I faked that I had appendicitis and made my parents take me to the ER just so that I could get some attention. My best moments in life have taken place in front of large groups where I have control of the microphone. I tend to speak my mind too liberally, and so I offend most people at least once, but if you're in my family, we just don't keep track of how many times you've been offended. I tend to overshare personal details of my life that will embarrass both you and me later.

When the needle pierces my big toe, it sounds something like this:

Me: AAAAAAH! YOU'RE KILLING ME! THIS HURTS LIKE YOU'RE SHOVING IRON FILINGS UP MY NOSTRILS! WHAT KIND OF FATHER ARE YOU? PLEASE STOP! PLEASE STOP! THIS HURTS SOOOOOOOOO BAD!

You see, I am a Screamer. There's a reason why my oral surgeon made me leave his office through the back door, folks.

How about you? Where do you fall on the pain personality test?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lazy Mom Tip #42

If by some chance, you are as lazy as I am, you will want to read this tip.

If you ENJOY running around getting lots of stuff done, like your daily exercise, your bread baking, and your special craft time with your children, feel free to skip right down to the next entry.

Pizza cutters are your best friend. I have used mine to cut my kids' pizza, pancakes, cheesy tortillas, bacon, lasagna and cheese into bite-size pieces. Anytime they say, "Mom, can you cut this for me?" I say, "Sure!" and I whip out that pizza cutter.

It's a lot of work to cut things with a knife and fork.

I'm really down on extra work.

This Is Just to Say

I have found
the pants you peed in
that you hid in
your closet

and which
you were probably
hoping
I would never find

I forgive you
Even though they were disgusting
So smelly
and so musty

If you would like to see William Carlos Williams' original "This Is Just to Say" poem, click here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Wicked Witch

I have always been a reader. Not a fussy, literature-only kind of reader, either. If books were food, I'd be a binger. I'll read almost anything. For example, my brother-in-law owns a car wash, and I will happily devour his copy of the national car wash magazine (who knew there was one?). Or, I'll joyously read my husband's copy of HR Today, despite having no interest whatsoever in human resources. If something that I can read is laying around, I'll pick it up and read it. Not just a few pages, either. I'll read the whole thing.

The other day Rhett found me devouring Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, which is basically written for a nine-year old. I wish I could say that I was reading it out loud to my children, but no, they were all tucked safely in bed, and I was pleasure reading a nine-year old's book.

Rhett said, "Hey, how's that kid's book coming?"

I grunted in reply. Another thing about me, is that I don't really hear you if I'm reading. I'm that absorbed, even if it's just about car washes.

Actually Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was quite helpful. For those of you who don't pleasure read children's books, or don't remember it from your own childhood, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is her town's version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Children love her because she understands them, and she understands how to help them behave well. Each chapter involves a mother calling for help from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle with one of her children's awful behaviors. Hubert Prentiss, for example, learns to pick up his toys, because Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle advises his mother to leave him alone for several days until his toys are so messy that he can't get out of his room and is nearly dying of hunger. Then Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle brings all the children by his room in a parade on their way to the circus, and Hubert cleans his entire room so that he can go with them. Hmmm. Somehow that sounds more like child abuse than good parenting.

Let's try again. For example, little Patsy doesn't like to take baths. So her mother phones up Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle who advises her to just let poor Patsy get as dirty as she wants. When she is absolutely filthy, the mother sneaks in to her room in the middle of the night and plants radishes on her daughter. Eventually little Patsy can't talk at all because her mouth is so encrusted with filth, and she decides to finally take a bath on the day that her mother starts pulling out the radishes, which apparently hurt when they are picked. Once again, I find that CPS would probably not smile on this parenting technique. However, on the upside, the family does have radishes for dinner that evening.

Anyhow. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle inspired me. Now I know all of you have children who love to clean up, who jump out of bed and make the bed immediately. I know your children all pick up their toys without asking. I know your children love to fold their clothes and clear their plates. But my children? Not so much.

So, I stole from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Her first experience with "curing" children's behavioral issues involved a little girl who hated to wash dishes.

"Oh, my!" said Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, "I just wish I had more dishes to wash. I pretend that if I don't get all the dishes done before the wicked witch comes that she will throw me into the dungeon!" Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the little girl proceed to wash all of the dishes and then Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle leaves the room and comes back dressed as a wicked witch.

"I WISH I COULD HAVE PUT YOU IN THE DUNGEON!" she roars, "But these dishes are PERFECTLY CLEAN! But there will come a day when I will LOCK YOU UP FOREVER!" The little girl is delighted, and ever after, she washes dishes with a joie de vivre that would be enviable in an adult. Job well done, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle!

This morning, I said to my kids, "Oh, no! A wicked witch is coming in FIVE minutes to see if your rooms are perfectly CLEAN! We'd better hurry and get them cleaned or she will throw you in the dungeon!"

They actually cleaned furiously, although little Spe would come to me occasionally and moan piteously, "But I too 'tared, Mama!" He was a little nervous about the whole wicked witch thing.

"Hurry! The wicked witch will be here soon!" I am nothing if not sympathetic.

Well, apparently the wicked witch looked a lot like me with a brown woolly sweater draped over her head. I'm sure it's coincidental, however. The kids' rooms were spotless. Then they wanted the wicked witch to come and inspect the toy room, the TV room, the living room, and the kitchen.

The wicked witch was very tired after all that inspecting (and cleaning). But I must say, sometimes it pays to read books that were written for a nine-year old, even if it's just because it gets my house cleaned up.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lice Are NIIIIICE!

I totally understand that it's true that lice don't only go to dirty heads. Lice, like most parasites, are complete opportunists, absolute respecters of no person. However, I think most people still feel a healthy amount of shame when they discover a nit, or worse, a full-grown louse (yes, that's the singular form of lice).

Over ten years ago, I picked up lice while doing volunteer work at an elementary school in England. In England, the lice is some kind of super parasite, making the rounds in elementary schools everywhere, and if you work with kids, I have no idea how you avoid lice. Especially if you are naive to the problem, as I was, and let the children do your hair during recess. This is not smart. Ever.

I noticed the itching first, but I have to be honest, I didn't worry too much about it. I moved to a new area, with new companions (this was on my LDS mission) and two or three nights later, one of my companions told me how she had gotten lice earlier in her mission.

"Oh!" I said, still thinking it was funny. "Can you check my head? I've been itching something fierce!"

She whipped out her nit comb faster than a cowboy and his six-shooter. Not really, but she did have one handy, and she pulled it out to give my hair a quick run-through.

It didn't take long. Nits, nits, and more nits. And then, a full-grown louse--alive, crawling across the yellow napkin that we set it on, wondering, I am sure, where its lovely food supply had gone. Have I grossed you out enough, or should I continue?

It took me nearly TWO months to get rid of the lice completely. I had hair past my waist at the time, and lice in England are quite resistant to lice shampoo. Eventually, I had to slather my hair with conditioner EVERY DAY for two weeks and comb through my hair with a nit comb. Apparently, the conditioner makes the lice and nits slide right off. It took about FOUR hours.

I've never had my hair that long again. However, some nights when I'm laying in bed, I swear I can feel a phantom louse strolling through my hair follicles. It's a shameful sensation.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

In the Chair

Yesterday I had my dentist's appointment. I try to go every six months as recommended, but I believe my average time between appointments is more like two years. But that's pretty much six months, so I don't sweat it. I did, however, spend a lot of time with the hygienist, listening to the scrape, scrape, SCRAAAAAAPE across my teeth of her little tool thing. It was awesome.

A few facts you might be interested to know about my teeth, that I was reminded of during this visit:

I had to have four teeth removed for orthodontic work when I was a preteen. This means that, with the removal of my four wisdom teeth, I am down EIGHT teeth from what God gave us.

I still have all the sealants from my childhood pediatric dentist, Dr. Joe. This is because I would rather have pure chocolate than chewy candies like Laffy Taffys. Actually, I think I would pour a vat of pure chocolate down my throat every day if it were socially acceptable. Because I love it THAT much.

I have receding gums on two of my teeth because I can't stop SCRUBBING my teeth with my toothbrush. I just push too hard in an effort to keep clean. Now if I only put so much effort into getting to the dentist every six months, I might be better off.

After the hygienist and I discussed all of my mouth facts, my dentist breezed in to do her little check-up thing.

"These teeth look great!" she said, after a cursory poke-around with her poking tool.

"Um." I say, around the poking tool. "My brother said I had a small cavity on this tooth, here." I point with my tongue to the right, top molar region.

"Who is your brother? He doesn't know what he's talking about." She pokes again, and I can tell that I do, in fact, have a cavity there.

"He's an endodontist."

"Oooooh." She pokes again and then starts backpedaling. "Well, I think he was probably talking about this deep ridge right here. Stuff is getting stuck in here. You might want to get it filled just for that reason. Yeah, I would definitely get a filling."

Another side note from my dental files: I had a red sticker on my childhood dental file. It meant I was a BITER. My pediatric dentist always propped my jaw open with these spacer things (can you tell that I'm TOTALLY conversant in dental tool terminology?). They weren't very comfortable.

Yet whenever he took them out, I bit him again. Because I'm perverse like that.

If Music be the Food of Love . . . STARVE ME!

Can I tell you a secret?

I don't really like music. Honestly. I just don't really like it. I would rather sit in silence with my own (admittedly fascinating, random, entertaining) thoughts than listen to someone else sing. Unless it's Kenny Rogers. I could listen to Kenny Rogers all day long.

Rhett, on the other hand, loves loves LOVES music. He puts his janky music on in our minivan when we are all together as a family and eventually I'm like, "Seriously, can we turn this crap off? Because it's giving me a headache."

I don't know anyone who doesn't like music as much as I do. Especially in high school I was so stymied when new acquaintances would say, "So what kind of music do you like?" as though it would be a way that we could bond together. What? I would clear my throat and try to think up a response that didn't sound too geeky ("Oh, I listen to classical music exclusively--I love the Romantics!), or too weird ("I don't listen to music much. Mostly socially, really.") or too bizarre, ("Honestly, I just love Kenny Rogers, you know that old, overweight singer who sings old country songs, and sometime in the future will become more plastic than Barbie."). I tried to pretend that I liked all the groups that everyone else did, but I seriously just didn't get it. I still don't.

Rhett can't understand it. He can't understand why I was less than thrilled when he played Metallica during our entire honeymoon. He can't understand why I would EVER ask him to turn off Dave Matthews Band (for Rhett, this is like someone turning off a DIRECT LINK to God). He also can't understand why I would call Smashing Pumpkins CRAP. Because to him, this stuff is like ambrosia.

Just so you know, I keep my computer on mute. Because I can't stand to hear everyone's songs that they have posted on their blogs. It gives me a headache to try to read and listen at the same time. It's not you, it's me. I promise.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Janky

My dearest brother, Josh, is not only totally sexy (and I mean this in a totally sisterly love sort of way) and concerned with the education of young minds, but he is also extremely talented.

Some people wish they could play the piano the way he does, but I simply wish I could invent new words and introduce them into our family lexicon the way he does.

A few examples:

moint = the taste of milk

sexanasty = sexy + nasty (As in, you see someone dressed really slutty and you say, "Wow, that is one heck of a sexanasty outfit."

janky = I can't quite define this one. You know it's not good, because it ends in 'ky'--no good word ends in 'ky' (I wish to remind you of the words skanky, lanky, and manky). It's kind of an all-purpose nasty adjective. A car can be janky (for example, an El Camino with ripped upholstery, peeling paint and fluffy dice hanging from the window). A person can be janky (I'm not going to pick on the Spears sisters. They've suffered enough). Some variants on the word include: jankified, jankety, and janked. It's a very versatile word.

I just love my brother Josh for introducing these words and more to our family. I feel like we can more precisely express our feelings because of these words.

On the down side, my husband has taught our two-year old Spe to say "Jankety-jank, Don't be a SKANK!" (To the tune of "Yakity-yak, Don't talk back!)

When I protested, my husband looked at me innocently. "I thought you would approve of his anti-skank stance!" Oh, right. Carry on then!

Josh has left me such an enduring legacy.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Frenzied Organizing (or Organising for my British Friends)

The new year seems like a fabulous time to declutter, destress, dejunk, and denounce other people (just kidding with that last one). But I am totally clearing out my closet. So that the next time I see a special on PBS about African poverty, I can totally hold my head up high and say, "I only have thirty pairs of shoes, not forty like I did last year--I'm totally not the over-consuming American."Or I can point out how I pared my sweaters by half. Because half of seventeen, rounded up, is nine. And I'm pretty sure I'm down to nine. Hang on, I'll go check.

Drat. I actually still have thirteen sweaters. The sad thing is I'm really not a clothes horse. So I know someone out there is thinking, "How can that poor girl dress herself with only thirteen sweaters to choose from?" My answer: "Go watch a PBS special on African poverty, sweetheart, and then get back to me."

So this year, I'm going to try really hard to a) dejunk and declutter my closet, and b) to only buy new clothes that I really love--not just a good deal that I think I can't pass up.

Case in point: The other day I was at Target and I saw a pretty cute skirt for only five dollars. FIVE DOLLARS! It's like no money, practically. But then, with my new perspective, I realized that I don't need it. I don't absolutely love it. And I might also have realized that I don't have a shirt to go with it. So I put it back on the shelf.

I might still be an over-consumptive American, but at least I'll be an over-consumptive American with an organized (or organised, for my British Friends) closet.

What are you getting rid of this year?

PS--Did you notice how The Expert totally tried to scientifically explain away the Holy Toenail in his comment on the original post? Science is so like that. However, I am taking his advice about the Lamisil. Just in case . . .

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Relic Update

Saved from the garbage bin: One Holy Toenail.

Once again, thanks to a rather humiliating dig through the garbage bin, I can offer you a moment with the Holy Toenail. But not an unchaperoned moment. Because this Holy Toenail is too precious. I can only imagine that some of you out there might want to pilfer the Holy Toenail and replace it with, oh, I don't know, a piece of red Chiclet gum.

When you've got a relic, you can't be too careful.