Diapers and Dragons

Friday, April 29, 2011

Seven! Seven Things To Count! HA HA HA HA HA! (Insert Crashes of Thunder)

It's been AGES since I've done something as spontaneous and yet meme-ish as a Seven Quick Takes Friday, as originated over at Conversion Diary, but something bloggish in me woke up and said, Today! Write today! So I am. Except I can't get Count von Count's voice out of my head, for some odd reason, so we'll be doing this his way.

--One! One Quick Take! Ha ha ha ha ha!--

This morning I pulled on new jeans purchased on sale from Old Navy yesterday. They're the same style that I always wear (I am, apparently, The Flirt), but one size up. It was rather marvelous to pull on jeans that don't feel like sausage casings. I am sad to report that MTL's birthday gift to me is still sitting in the corner of the living room. I've used it about four times, which means that each seven minute ride cost about $50. Damn, but I'm out of shape. I keep swearing I'm going to do something about it, and then the siren song of the couch drowns out everything else.

On a positive note, MTL appreciated being able to actually grab my butt this morning as he walked by on his way out the door, rather than encountering the immovable force of straining denim. There's always a silver lining.

--Two! Two Quick Takes! Ha ha ha ha ha!--

Upon arriving at daycare this morning, The Widget informed me that he felt like throwing up. He then proceeded to do exactly that. All over his shirt and the floor, with a bonus splattering on one of my shoes. Although he did have a nasty stomach bug last weekend, I have a strong suspicion that this morning's gift was the product of too much sinus drainage (thank you, environmental allergens!) and his refusal to swallow the chewed-up Claritin chewable pill that ended up on the floor along with the semi-digested remains of last night's tacos.

News flash: I have apparently lost the cast-iron stomach I developed during those early years of parenting. I was unabashedly grateful that he threw up on the daycare's floor rather than mine. All I had to do was wipe him down and get him back into the car. God bless the heroic and plastic-gloved daycare teacher who tackled the floor.

--Three! Three Quick Takes! Ha ha ha ha ha!--

I can't say I'm thrilled about how often The Ex's girlfriend is at the house. This has nothing to do with her--I rather like her, truth be told, and I'm relieved he's moving on and I'm happy she's good with the kids. I do, however, resent that I'm still paying almost half of the mortgage on a house I don't live in, and that I'm essentially paying for them to live there. Trust me, I only agreed to this in the settlement for the kids' sake (plus she wasn't staying there back then). And yes, there is a time limit, but still. Don't even get MTL started on that, either.

However, I did find myself rather grateful to discover that she was there this morning and doesn't have work today, because she's able to watch the Widget. For some reason daycare centers don't let vomiting children stick around.

--Four! Four Quick Takes! Ha ha ha ha ha!--

I love my coworkers.

Thanks to one of them, my students were able to enter my classroom, be made aware of the situation, and get started on their work for the day. I was only ten minutes late to work, but mine is not a job with flexible start times. Thanks to another, those kids also had a watchful pair of eyes during those ten minutes. You'd be amazed what a bunch of juniors will try to do during ten minutes' unsupervised time.

Sometimes I wonder how much of a difference there really is between my job and a kindergarten teacher's.

Oh, right. We don't have recess.

--Five! Five Quick Takes! Ha ha ha ha ha!--

Speaking of kindergarten, DramaBoy is currently going through a phase of Marvelous! Wonderful! Near-perfect behavior! both at school and at home, which is a lovely respite from phone calls about how many kids he's hit on a given day and battles over how many bites of that horrible healthy food he'll have to eat tonight. I'd enjoy it more if I didn't keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Also, since children learn how to tag-team at birth, The Widget is In A Mood almost every day right now. I'm fairly certain he was flung into a maelstrom of jealousy, insecurity, and angst by having his eight-month-old cousin around for a few days and having to Share Attention--particularly from my parents, whom he views as his personal attendants. I mean, how DARE they?

Not that I would know anything about how that feels, or ever tormented The Widget's cousin's mother for coming along and dispelling my belief that the universe revolved around my three-year-old self. Nah. I wouldn't have done that. Ahem.

(Sorry, SoccerSister. Again.)

--Six! Six Quick Takes! Ha ha ha ha ha!--

I hate politics.

I know this isn't news, but I think it deserves restating.

And while I will not, out of deference to DraftQueen's sensibilities, say that I hate all politicians or that they are all corrupt and horrible people, I will say that I have very little faith in most politicians.

However, if Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert ever run for office, I'm voting for them.

Just sayin'.

--Seven! Seven Quick Takes! Ha ha ha ha ha!--

The Old Spice commercials are awesome. In fact, an Old Spice ad torn from a magazine is clipped to my inbox where I can see it and be reminded to smile. Not because Isaiah Mustafa is pretty decent eye candy (though he is), but because the sheer over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness of these ads brings a little sunshine into my gloomy days.

I wonder if they'll have any effect on lowering the acceptable age for men to wear Old Spice. MTL can hardly wait until he's allowed to wear it, in fact--and felt that way even before these ads. Fortunately, I'm not allergic to that particular cologne.

In the meantime, I'll just keep enjoying the ads.

You're welcome.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Dreams May Come (Dammit)

I rarely remember my dreams these days. I will wake with a vague impression of what has been spinning through my REM sleep, but even the wisps of memory remaining slip out of reach within a matter of minutes. My friend Heidi experiences lucid dreaming, for pleasure or pain, but other than a few youthful recurring dreams that, well, no longer recur, I don't recall what I dream.

I do know, however, that I dream. I'll wake with the emotional remnants of my sleeping experiences, most strongly when I am working through anger or sadness or, most especially, anxiety.

Ah, anxiety dreams. There's nothing quite like stumbling through one's morning routine with a vague sense of impending doom. It adds a certain murky spice to one's coffee.

Last night I had anxiety dreams: more specifically, financial anxiety dreams. I'm a worrier, and I have become hardwired to worry about money over the last few years. When we first moved into our townhouse and were wading through the changing finances of combined households and moving and the start of school, I had financial anxiety dreams resulting in restless sleep and (according to MTL) distressed mumbling. He had to wake me up a few times and reassure me that we were not, in fact, about to be consumed by an avalanche of arrears.

I don't think I was mumbling last night--certainly MTL shaking me to wakefulness had more to do with hitting the snooze button too many times than sleep talking--but I've been stumbling through my day with a weight of disquiet on my weary mind. I'm a zombie today. A zombie with a bank account that mutters dour reminders that bills are impending and rent is due in a few days and groceries have not been bought and, oh yeah, there's a rather significant function occurring in just over 108 days (according to that oh-so-handy and also slightly intimidating countdown clock at the top of this page) that requires saving money to cover the balances due in a few months...

We are by no means destitute, and I openly acknowledge that our problems are what Heidi likes to cheerfully call "first world problems." Food makes it onto our table, our children are clothed, we can cover our bills if we maneuvre things just so this month, and we have two incomes.

BUT. I look at my debt, which is high regardless of the reasonableness of its existence (student loans and the like). I look at our vehicles, which are both old--MTL's is no longer reliable for long distance travel--and neither of which are large enough to contain our entire family. I look at our credit rating, which is not high enough to get the kind of loan we need to pay off a certain debt that ties me too strongly to The Ex and the millstone of an upside-down mortgage for a house I don't even live in.

I wonder if perhaps we are foolish to spend this money on a wedding and honeymoon. There are those who think we are, whether they say so openly or no.

AND YET. We are spending less on the wedding and honeymoon combined than many people spend on just a wedding dress or wedding flowers. We certainly aren't spending irresponsibly in that regard. And there's a part of me--the part that is emphatically winning--that says it is somehow important to celebrate this event, that a courthouse ceremony isn't right for us, that we are not unreasonable to gather family and friends and show that YES, we love each other this much....

I don't know.

I'm tired and the Michigan skies are moistly gloomy today. Add that to the anxiety and depression of being told by The Powers That Be that my peers and I are somehow simultaneously Too Essential to be allowed to strike/negotiate/be heard and also Too Despicable to be treated with respect and human (ha) decency....

I suppose I'll take anxiety dreams over panic attacks. Brown paper bags aren't the most glamorous accessory.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've been "turtling" lately: pulling my head and limbs back inside a protective shell in an instinctive effort to avoid being overwhelmed with Everything.

I don't even want to get started here, as it's all or nothing for me. Either I'm silent or I'm ranting. I normally have fairly low blood pressure--lately I can feel my heart pounding and my face flushing as a matter of course.

What's happening in this state, in this country, to educators and the regular government workers (not the politicians themselves, of course) and the middle class in general....

I'm sick to my stomach.

I need to find a career counselor. I've never had a back-up plan because, quite simply, ever since I discovered teaching I've never planned to do anything else.

What DOES a thirty-three-year-old woman with a Bachelor's in English Literature and a Master's in the Art of Teaching, with certification in English and Speech/Theatre have as a back-up plan? I'm eminently qualified to do exactly what I do. Who else is going to be knocking down my door to receive my services--especially for a wage that will continue to pay back my thousands of dollars in student loans and the other debt that I've incurred as a responsible citizen? None of which, mind you, is credit card debt or the like.

I can feel the rant rising.

We're short on "extra" money right now--not that there really is such a thing in our household lately, since pretty much every extra penny is being set aside to pay for our quite modest little wedding and honeymoon. MTL's car broke down last week and required a bit of money to repair, even though he did the repairs himself. His machine at work has also been broken, meaning his hours have been trimmed back a bit. We had a dual birthday party on Sunday for The Widget (my baby is FOUR!) and KlutzGirl (MTL's baby is EIGHT!). In three months the remaining balances are due for our ceremony and reception sites and for our honeymoon.

With all that financial stress bearing down on my mind, I can feel an age-old destructive stress mechanism kicking in. I want to buy things. I want to buy fun things, pretty things, wonderful escape-from-reality things. I want to buy books and clothes and shoes and art. I want to buy gifts for my bridesmaids. I want to buy all the accessories I want or at least need for my wedding day. I want to buy it all NOW.

I didn't give anything up for Lent this year, but I'm reminded of when I gave up chocolate a few years ago. Despite what you may think, I don't normally crave chocolate every day. I can even go a few weeks without thinking about it. Shocking, I know, but true. But when I denied myself that luscious substance, the days dragged by. I woke craving chocolate. I went to bed craving chocolate. I nearly cried when I realized that my (then daily purchase of) Cafe Mocha contained chocolate and therefore was verboten.

Impulse buys and non-necessities are off my shopping list for now--and likely for some time--and so I'm craving what I cannot have. Perhaps after a few weeks I'll find the craving wanes and leave me feeling freer, just as I did during that Lent years ago.

In the meantime, I'm staying off Etsy and Amazon and Victoria's Secret and Old Navy and every other website that urges me to indulge, treat myself, think It's only a few dollars. I have my tiny list of five necessary items which I will take to the grocery store this afternoon, and I will not buy anything except those five items. I pinkie swear.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I May Be Barefoot In The Kitchen, But I Swear I'm Not Pregnant

Today was the first day of Operation Clean House. I'm calling it that because at this point I lack the creativity to come up with an awesome name, like Operation ThunderHawk or some such shit. Besides, while the results are awesome, the process is, well, not.

Now, lest you suddenly picture me amidst a near-avalanche of trash and clutter, a la the pitiful people on my obsession of the last few months "Hoarders" and "Hoarding: Buried Alive", let me assure you that in point of fact we keep the house remarkably neat considering it regularly contains a pack of tasmanian devils kids. I've shocked my parents and former roommates with my current tidy tendencies, MTL breaks out in a rash when he sees clutter, and we gratefully employ a wonderful woman to come by every two weeks to do the deep cleaning. Not to mention that we firmly believe that one of the benefits of having children is that child labor laws do not apply at home.

Nevertheless, the house could do with a proper spring cleaning. Last weekend we put the kids to work on their domain--the bedroom and the game room--instructing them to not only put things away properly but to also put the trash in the trash bag rather than tossing it into the nearest toy box, and to fill additional boxes with the toys and clothes they no longer use.

I tell you, if there are any people with serious hoarding tendencies in this domicile, it would be the freeloaders non-rent-payers around here.

After hours of fighting and fussing decluttering and cleaning, their bedroom and game room are finally fit for human habitation, and I no longer feel like weeping when I walk through the hall. The chances of seriously injuring myself have also decreased.

This week is Spring Break, and it is also our break from children. The boylets are down in Florida with their father, being spoiled outrageously by their grandfather and other relatives on that side, and MTL's children are all with their mother this week.


Excuse me while I break out into spontaneous celebratory dancing.


Whew. Where was I?

Ah yes. Spring Break. Now, before you go off muttering about spoiled teachers sleeping in every day (I can hear you, MTL!!! Stop that!) take a look at my agenda. OK, fine, not really, but imagine it at least. Not only am I diving into some wedding planning and spending valuable time with my sister and her adorable if exhausting seven-month-old son, I also have major chores written in for each day. It's time to get serious about cleaning house, peoples.

So today was the kitchen. I roped DMB into the task, and he scrubbed the refrigerator while I emptied cabinets and pantries and threw things away and sorted and organized to my heart's content. Do I love doing it? Well, okay, sort of, since there's a part of me that loves doing that sort of thing every now and then. It's the same part that finds folding laundry soothing, especially when done in front of a TV watching one of those hoarding shows and patting myself on the back that I am so much better than that.

Hey, MTL likes cleaning the garage every now and then, too. I'm not the only weird one.

I can't say that I love the first part of this task, though, which involves pulling out all the food and finding out just how old that jar of mayonnaise actually is and how long that box of pasta mix has been hiding in the back corner. Since I'm trying to be a responsible recycler, it also involves emptying all those nauseating jars and tins down the garbage disposal.

My scented candles saw use today. I also appreciate sliding doors and stovetop fans. Just sayin'.

I won't tell you how many bags of garbage went out today on DMB's back. I'd like to keep my shame at a reasonable level.

Anyhow, I'm enjoying the ability to close the pantry door without something falling out. Not to mention opening the fridge without being forced a step back by the odor of Something Gone Off.

Tomorrow I'm tackling our walk-in closet and the master bathroom/bedroom before I head out to search for a wedding dress with my mother and sister. Wednesday the great room will submit to my ministrations. And Thursday I get to sort and organize the books that have crawled off the bookshelves and strewn themselves on every surface. Maybe I'll even find money somewhere to purchase the much-needed additional bookshelves that MIGHT brhttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=4078483744873792132ing our collection under the semblance of control.

Right now it's time to whip up a chicken pot pie for dinner so MTL has a nice hot dinner when he comes home from work.

Am I crazy, or am I getting positively DOMESTIC over in these here parts?

Don't answer that.
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