Forget Punctuation, Inflection is Everything

Posted on 12/27/2013 01:07:00 PM
I bought this canvas in a discount store a year or so ago before I noticed that every suburban family from here to the west coast has a similar one on their wall somewhere.  I just liked it; I didn't realize it was the living room uniform of the 2010s. 



Whatever. I still like mine.

We had some visitors over the other day who commented on the painting, and The Dormouse decided to read it aloud to show off her impressive "turn every conversation into a Look At me, Me, ME Moment" skills.  Only, when she read it, she read it like this:

"We try our best.

We are patient.

Most of the time we tell the truth.

We support each other..."

There's been a lot going around on the internet lately about the importance of punctuation and how commas save lives but I'd just like to point out that learning where to pause when reading aloud is also quite important.  Otherwise, your neighbors will constantly expect your kids' pants to be on fire.

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Christmas 2013

Posted on 12/25/2013 04:00:00 AM In:
It took me way too long this year to both generate an idea for and execute Christmas cards this year, but we had a little sheltered workshop the day before yesterday and I'm pleased to announce that we mailed cards almost two whole days before Christmas this year.  That counts, right?  I'm totally counting that.  

Perhaps we should start considering now what we shall do next year because based on this year's card, we'll need the time.

We are having a non-traditional Christmas today and trying to make the best of it... reminding ourselves that the real gift of the holiday is spending time together, even if that time together includes being stuck in the same room with a six year old who seems to feel that she cannot be fully alive unless she is making extraneous, non-purposeful noise every second.

Hope everyone out there is having a wonderful day, however you choose to celebrate.




 

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Hey! Unto You a Child is Born!!!

Posted on 12/24/2013 06:30:00 AM
This year I read the Shortlings The Best Christmas Paegent Ever... or rather, I downloaded the book onto my Kindle and then handed it over to The KingofHearts so he could read it to them because I only really get about three sentences in to reading anything aloud before I disintegrate into coughing fits and then it takes about a year to get through a chapter and that makes it kind of hard to follow a story.  But I did the really hard part, right?

Anyway, they enjoyed it. The KingofHearts hadn't ever head the story before so it was new to him too and I hadn't read it in about 30 years or so. We finished the book Sunday night and then Monday morning, I got an email from The Caterpillar's Sunday School teacher saying she'd taken these pictures in their class and maybe I'd like to see.  She looked more like the character Gladys in that book than if I'd dressed her up with that end in mind.


"Did you have a Nativity Paegent in church yesterday?" I asked.

"No."

"No?  Then what did you do?"

"We dressed up."

"Why?"

"My teacher wanted us to."

"But was it for a Christmas pageant?"

"No.  She just read the Christmas story while we sat there."

"Well, that's what a Christmas pageant is, knucklehead.  Did you yell, "Hey! Unto you a child is born!!!"

"No."

"You know, like in the book we read."

"Oh! ... No."

"Well what did you say?"

"Nothing."

"How come?"

"We weren't allowed to talk."

Probably a good thing.  She would have named the play "Revenge at Bethlehem."

I imagine this is the version of the Christmas story where they weren't allowed into the barn because of the possibility of mad cow disease and then some well meaning drunkard in the bar offered, "Hey you can have the baby under this here table."

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Let the Airing of the Grievances Begin

Posted on 12/23/2013 08:33:00 AM In:

I'm not going to get into how tired and cranky I am, because I pretty much whined about that once already this week.  With great rage and apoplexy, here are my top Festivus grievances this year -- at least the ones that are suitable for the internet. You can play too if you like.
  1. When I wake up at four am and think I'm gonna steal a few precious, non-child-directed minutes of a movie I've been trying to watch with the volume turned down so low, I have to unplug the cooling fan that sits under my computer or I can't hear it... and then ten minutes later The Caterpillar wanders, bleary-eyed out of her room and won't go back to sleep.
  2. I have not been able to get time together to come up with an acceptable idea and design a Christmas card yet this year and now that I have a good one, I cannot get the online software at the print shop to accept my files. 
  3. We sucked it up and purchased supplies to put new flooring down in the basement for our holiday we don't gotta go to work project.  Then realized we had to empty the rooms of furniture, and then pull up the carpet, and then pull up the tiles under the carpet, and then while we have the bare floor, we might as well paint over all the patches that were fixed after that pipe burst, but before we can paint, then the walls need to be retexturized, and then trim that we never finished should be touched up, and then we have to get rid of the broken boxspring under the bed, and then we need a thing to put the bed on so we bought a Murphy bed kit, and then... and then... and then...  It's all necessary and/or logical of course, but I just wanted to put in a new floor; I didn't want to rebuild the entire house.
  4. The Caterpillar prefers to be watching TV from the floor directly in front of the television, on her back with her feet bicycling in the air above her.  So you either have to watch TV with the distraction of her constantly writing around below it in your peripheral vision, or you have to yell at her to move about eleventy-bajillion times throughout whatever you're trying to watch, which is equally as distracting.
  5. Oatmeal cookies... with raisins.
  6. That anyone is interested in bad reality TV shows - which we all know are more fiction than reality anyway - and what their overpaid actors think about anything.
  7. At some point in the past five years, I've grown to assume that everything is a touch screen device. It's awkward at times.
  8. Poor toilet paper roll holder placement in public restrooms.
  9. Twerking... and twerkers.
  10. People who say, "see you next year" when you won't see them for a week before January first.
  11. This woman.
  12. That Jingle Bells Batman Smells song and that fact that my children and my husband argue over the correct version of the lyrics.
  13. Half the things on my six year old's Christmas list are as-seen-on-TV products.

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This is Water. This is Water.

Posted on 12/20/2013 10:44:00 PM
When I decided to have kids, I was unsure of my ability to excel at the role.  I'm not a warm-hearted person by nature and I wondered if I'd find the ability within myself to love a child they way it needed and not just the way I needed.  Friends tell me that they didn't realize it would be so hard until they actually had kids.  That they didn't fully comprehend how the lack of sleep and the exhaustion and the time management issues and the taking forty-five minutes now to do what would have taken ten before would affect them until they actually experienced it.  And they're right. How could you?  It's hard, ya'll.  It's exhausting, demoralizing, tedious, thankless, and a hundred other -ings and -lesses.  But that's still not the worst part.

The worst part of parenting isn't the sleepless nights, the diapers, the feedings, the potty training, the laundry, the homework, or the arguing with six year old (or ten year old) logic. The worst part of parenting is that no matter how many of those things you do that you hate, no matter how well or how badly you deal with it today, no matter how many conversations you have about why you have to clean your ears, or why you need to wipe after using the toilet... every time, or how many times you explain what will happen if you keep half-eaten sandwiches underneath your bed for three months, or how much laundry you get done, or how much homework you supervise, or even how ahead of the game you got by cleaning the whole the house today... the worst part is knowing that tomorrow... tomorrow, you're going to have to do every one of those things again.  It's like if you were in the movie Groundhog Day, but the rest of the world just kept on moving forward and it's only you that are stuck having the same conversations over and over again and redoing the same chores that someone undid for you the second you turned your back.

It's not that I think I shouldn't have to do those things, it's just that I think after the tenth or twelfth time I have the same conversation, some of it should start to sink in.  That my ten year old should by now, after hundreds of reasonings, exhortations, and arguments on the subject, should have stopped wandering out into the living room and a crowd of house guests, dripping wet after a shower, wearing only a towel... because I've explained the hows and whys... that the showering process includes drying off and getting dressed IN the bathroom... so many times before.  I love them with every fiber of my being, but I simply cannot get used to why some things simply cannot just... move forward.

It's like Louis C. K. says,

“Any parent who is honest will tell you, you live with that ambivalence. You look at the face of your beautiful, lovely child and you think two things at the exact same time: ‘I love this kid so much that it's changed my whole life. I love other people more because of how much I love her. I love people that died years ago more. My love has traveled through time because of how completely I love her and she loves me back. She’s completely given value to life that didn’t exist before and I regret every decision that led to her birth’. That’s how it feels.”

Once I was giving a lift to a friend in my car and someone cut me off in traffic, nearly running me off the road.  I yelled something at the driver, I don't remember what now, but I'm sure it was appropriately sarcastic and acid-toned.  My friend said quietly -- and without any guile or cynicism whatsoever, without even the Pollyannaish tone you'd expect, "Maybe his wife is pregnant and he's trying to get her to the hospital."  I thought to myself, this person is better than anyone I know and anyone I will ever be no matter how hard I try. Gag. Sure, his scenario is not likely, but you know what I realize now? It's not impossible either.

I'm certainly not the first person to deal with angst, I'm aware.  I think even when we don't have kids, we have to learn to get past the day in, day out-ness of life.   I learned a long time ago at my workplace to make peace with the fact that no matter how hard or how I work, there will always be more to do and conversations I'll have over and over again... even when I write the information down so people will not have to ask me again in the future, they still will... and maybe that's okay in the grand scheme of things.  For some reason, it's easy for me to accept that about my job; not so easy to accept about my parenting experience.  The KingofHearts says he has the opposite issue.  Perhaps that's why he's had more jobs since we've been married than I've had my entire life.  Of course, he's had more marriages too. *I kid, I kid*

What I've been trying to keep in mind is that it's all a choice.  How I feel about the realities of my decisions isn't a foregone conclusion, but rather how I decide to look at it.  To borrow a line, I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I'm going to take a stand. I'm going to defend it. Right or wrong, I'm going to defend it.

My stand is that it's good.  This life.  These children.  This family.  Sure, it's hard, it's boring, it's tedious sometimes, but then I have these moments where we do the Monkees walk together in the Home Depot parking lot, or where I've been woken up - again - to the sounds of a six year old making me a breakfast-in-bed tray of four crackers, six tortilla chips, a yogurt and a Diet Coke.  On paper, it probably doesn't overshadow the other stuff, but I choose to think that it does, regardless.  I choose to love my life.

Even David Foster Wallace wasn't able to keep ahold of this world view all the time and his depression eventually got the better of him.  I don't mean to present a simplistic view of depression.  It's way more nuanced and complicated than just "Stop it!"  I wish it were that easy.  It's not. But for now, I choose to be happy.  I choose to recognize that this is water.

 

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Humbug

Posted on 12/17/2013 09:10:00 PM In:
Last year, I bought one of these Kurt Adler glass ball sets (See how I maturely restrained myself and typed that with a straight face, completely avoiding the Beevus and Butthead style joke that begs to be told in connection with the name of that product? Wait... dangit!!)  for my tree and fell in love with them.  So I bought another.  And then a few weeks later I bought two more.  And then I bought two more a couple of months after that. There aren't many lights on each strand, but they're kind of expensive so I kept trying to make do with one or two, and then deciding I needed more, and then had to wait until they went on sale again.  They twinkle and change color slowly and randomly and I love them so much.  The only problem is the lights are the size of regular ornaments.  What would would make them better is if I had twice as many and they were the size of small LED lights, so I searched far and wide for the rest of the year (read: I Googled it a couple of times) to find a mini-version of what's on my tree.  I actually ordered these other Kurt Adler lights, thinking they were what I wanted (same brand so it's sound reasoning, right?) but when they came, I turned them on and found that their idea of "twinkle" was flashing on and off like a neon sign in a bar that says Eat at Joe's. I looked them too long and fell into an epileptic seizure.  I could be exaggerating a little here, but the end of the story is I returned those.  

I also tried these similar lights, which displeased me as well because they didn't twinkle at all; they just turn on.  But I was too lazy to return those, so I just put them in a bowl.  

Voila.

Instant Christmas decorations.

I have done my part. Can December be done now?




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Noels

Posted on 12/15/2013 07:24:00 AM
This week we braved the whole one inch of snow on the ground and left the house for The Dormouse's Winter concert. I don't have a lot to add about this expect to wonder why recycled material robots were guarding the entrances.


I guess there's a very real chance of Wall-e and his buddies rushing the stage.

The Dormouse played the violin in the second year orchestra. 


And got to sing a solo with the fourth and fifth grade chorus.
 

A soulful solo, from the looks of it.
 

As much as I loathe crowding into the cafeteria with a couple hundred other parents who seem to think that I either a) want to watch the concert through the iPad that they're holding up in front of me (which, of course, only shows a closeup of their kid and no one else) or b) want to watch the concert through some younger sibling they stand on the chair in front of me, this is one of my favorite things about school.  When you're as Bah Humbug about the Christmas season as I am this year, it helps to have someone force your hand.  I'm working on my attitude. Perhaps I'll find some of it by living vicariously through my children.

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Sunrise, Sunset

Posted on 12/14/2013 07:04:00 AM
A long time ago I lived in Arizona.  It was a nice place to grow up, especially since we had Wallace and Ladmo and every day I rue the fact that my kids don't think of those two as family friends like I did, despite my having purchased several DVDs to round out their education.  It's just not the same. 

You know what we didn't have in Arizona?  Seasons.  Oh sure, you might remind me that it's a dry heat and as such, so much better than living in the swamp, but what you forget unless you live there for a long time is that it's never NOT a dry heat.  It might actually get cold a few times here and there, but that doesn't really change any of the vistas and sometimes you get a little tired of the yearlong Season of  Brown and pine for a real Winter or at least for leaves to fall off the cacti. 

That being said, there are many things I miss about living in Arizona.   You don't really realize how the desert becomes a part of you until you leave it.

You know what they do have in Arizona? Sunsets.  I really do miss the sunsets.  But every so often, you find a reasonable facsimile here. Of course, you have to get up at five a.m. to see it.



 

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Mexican Standoff

Posted on 12/11/2013 05:23:00 AM
We've had a couple of days of  winter weather this week, which means the whole area collectively fell to its knees, shook its fist at the sky, screamed, "Why me, Lord?" and then promptly cancelled school and shut down the government.  Then three hours later, the sun came out and melted all the snow off the roads, making us all feel like idiots.  Nature is funny that way.

More locally, the animals seemed to also sense that the end was coming and risked everything for a meal of a cricket.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.


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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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