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Hoarder – or Hero?

I have learned that there is a very fine line between hoarding and being prepared.  Maybe they cover this in Boy Scouts.  I don’t know.  Since I’m not a boy.  And I have never been any type of scout.  Scouting implies, to me, finding your way around.  And that is definitely not one of my strengths.

Anyway, my husband and I often have arguments about what should be thrown away.  Pretty much 95% of what he owns – according to me.  Nothing ever – according to Cap’n Firepants.

I can honestly say that I have never regretted anything I’ve deliberately thrown away.  (Accidental disposals do not count.  I did not intend to throw my engagement ring in the garbage; it slipped off of my finger.)  Despite this stellar track record, however, the Cap’n rarely listens to my advice.  And trust me, I give it to him often.

Here is the most recent example:  We can’t use our old dog bowls on the new concrete floors because the rubber on the bottom counteracts with the stain in the floor.  The Cap’n bought new ones.  I had almost released the old ones into the garbage can when the Cap’n said, “Wait!”

I looked down at the dingy, slobber-covered bowls in my hand, and looked back at him.

“Tell me one thing you plan to use these for in the next year,” I challenged.

He was silent.  Into the garbage went the bowls.

That night, I looked up at our kitchen ceiling fan.  One of the blades had split in half.  To me, this was an opportunity.  I’ve hated that ugly fan since we moved in.  It’s in a dumb place, and it’s, well, hideous.  I pointed out the broken fan blade to the Cap’n.

He looked up.  “I can fix that,” he said.

“How?” I said, doubtfully.  I pictured Dimples’ Skull and Crossbones duct tape adorning our fan.  Which might actually be an improvement.

“I have replacement blades.”

“Huh?”

“From the fans we took down in the other rooms.  I kept the blades.”

He KEPT THE BLADES OF THE FANS WE HATED SO MUCH THAT WE TOOK THEM DOWN  – “just in case”.  And now there was a case.

I hate it when hoarding comes in handy.

I deliberately left it dusty so you would be more likely to agree with me about its ugliness. As for the popcorn ceiling - yeah, hate that too.

Happy Birthday, Crash!

Today is my dear sister’s birthday.  She is probably hoping, as she does every year for the last decade, that I will be surprising her in North Carolina.  Unfortunately, I can’t do that again until she stops expecting it.  Do you hear that, Crash?!!!!  Anyway, I just want to say Happy Birthday to my crazy sis.  Sorry I can’t be there.  But here is the next best thing.

Crash is the cute one on the left. I am the one holding the, uh, what the heck is that thing, anyway?

Gee, Mother Superior, I Wanna Go Home

A bunch of us moms (what is a bunch of moms called, anyway – a gaggle, a murder, a herd?) were talking about summer camp one night while the girls were at swim practice.  Because it’s never too early to plan for summer camp.  One of the moms, who has a daughter a year older than Dimples, 10, mentioned that her daughter is going to sleep-away camp for the first time this summer.  For 3 weeks.

I immediately flashed back to my first experience at sleep-away camp around that age.

My mother had convinced me to go with my best friend, who had been going for years.  For one week, I would have the best time of my life, she assured me, swimming in the lake, canoeing, and watching movies.

I was pumped.  I really couldn’t wait.  I eagerly labelled every item I owned, even if it wasn’t going with me for the week, and told all of my friends what I great time I would have.

The ride to camp seemed even longer due to my excited anticipation.  When we arrived at the camp, a facility run by Catholic nuns, I nearly threw myself out of the car.

My mother got me settled in to my cabin, signed all of the appropriate papers which, I’m sure, included one that promised me to a nunnery when I turned 18, and left.

As soon as my mother got in the car, a huge lump rose in my throat.

I turned to my best friend, so she could take my mind off of this sudden rush of homesickness.  She was gone.  After several years of attending camp, she had a circle of camp friends who were much more fun than I was.  She really wasn’t my best friend, anyway; our moms were best friends, and we were always stuck together.  Of course, I did not realize this until that moment.

I began to cry.  And cry.  I couldn’t stop crying.  Even when the very nice cabin nun tried to comfort me.  Even when we sat in the auditorium watching Ben Hur that night.

This is What Our Cabin Looked Like - Kind Of

Even when the girls told me about the man with the hook that had been seen the night before trying to break in to one of the cabins.

I cried for three days straight.  Finally the Head Mother Superior Nun Lady sat me down for a talk.

“Why do you keep crying?” she demanded.

“Because I want to go home!” I sobbed.

This flummoxed her.  She could not understand why the engaging activities at her camp would not instantly cure me of wanting to go home.

“How about if I promise to call your parents and ask them to pick you up on Friday instead of Saturday?”

I perked up.  This was the first sign anyone had shown of giving in to my hysterics.

“O.K.” I whined.  I stopped crying.

For two days, I refrained from crying.  Except in my cot at night.

On Friday, I woke up early, dressed, and packed my duffle bag.  I sat on my cot after breakfast, waiting for my parents.

Who never came.

The next day, when they finally arrived, I threw myself at them.  “Why didn’t you come yesterday?”

“What do you mean?”

Yes, you Smart Readers.  You anticipated what I surely should have realized myself.  According to my parents, no one had ever called them from the camp.

Now, I ask you – who would you believe, your own parents or Sister Mary Quite Contrary?

I never got to the bottom of this, but the long-term effect was that I now view both Catholics and parents with a critical eye.

And I will not be sending Dimples to summer camp.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/emiliano-iko/5460822061/”>i k o</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Studies are Detrimental to my Health – and Sanity

Have you Been Spying on me, Jennifer Hull at jenniferhull.com?

Ever since I found out about the multitasking study recently done by Stanford, I have become a bumbling, inefficient, no-tasking idiot.

Having hypochondriacal tendencies, I merely have to hear about a disease before I begin to display its symptoms, and this apparently extends to brain function, or the lack thereof.  I was once a gloriously productive multitasker with the ability to juggle at least 5 activities at the same time – not including breathing and moving blood through my body.  Now, I am lucky if I am able to get the latter done.

According to the Stanford studies, high multitaskers cannot filter out irrelevant information as easily and have a hard time organizing their memories.

I thought the culprit for that was Motherhood.  But when you think about it, I guess Motherhood is probably the Queen of multitasking activities.  Fatherhood is not.  This is evidenced by the fact that my husband is unable to do anything else, including laundry, the rare times that he is the only one responsible for keeping an eye on our daughter.

According to the Stanford study – or the creative extrapolations made by reporters from the study – my husband is probably doing a better job than I am.

I guess that depends on how you define his job.  If being a father is merely sitting in an armchair with your daughter and watching MacGyver, then, yes, he is Aces.  I cannot sit down and watch anything without doing something at the same time.  Even if I’m only playing Sudoku on my iPad.

If parenting includes helping your child with homework while you are: cooking dinner, feeding the dogs and trying to keep them from tearing each other’s throats out, rinsing out the pots from the night before so you have enough to cook the dinner in, listening to messages on the answering machine, adding food to the grocery list, AND signing your daughter’s field trip permission form – well, I think I might win out on that one.

At least I would have before the Stanford study came to my attention.  Now, I’m: putting dog food on the stove in the unwashed pots, pressing the button on the timer to listen to my messages, letting the dogs rip up the permission form and, what the heck, they can have the homework while they are at it, and completely forgetting to put anything on the grocery list except the word, “HELP!”

You owe my daughter a scholarship for this, Stanford.

We Have No Kitchen Synch

Sometimes, I think about the irony of my daughter being involved in Synchronized Swimming.  Because, really, there is very little about her that is in synch with anyone else.

If there was any other part of her life that I could get Dimples to apply her synchronized swimming skills to, it would be to her meal-eating.  In fact, our whole family could probably use a coach on this.

Impressive. But, can you eat Hamburger Helper at the same time? (courtesy of proacguy1 on Flickr)

Being a teacher, I have developed the habit of eating quickly.  Elementary school teachers have, on average, 4 minutes to scarf a lunch.  Officially, we are allotted 30.  But, once you get all of your students through the line that was already backed up because the school kitchen ran out of its nutritious pizza rolls two classes before you, and you use your one chance to pee and make any phone calls you need to make, and try to cook the frozen dinner you brought in the one microwave available for 100 teachers in the Teacher’s Lounge, that 30 minutes is pretty much gone.

When I met the Cap’n, I tried to slow myself down a little.  The Cap’n savors his food, and does not rush.  The Cap’n gets an hour and a half for his lunches.  He can go to restaurants, even.  So, he does not really understand the concept of “inhale it or lose it.”

Then I met the Family Firepants (my future in-laws), and knew I was really going to need to change my habits.  They come from the era where your entire day is about the meals – the preparation, cooking, eating, and cleaning up and starting all over again.  And there was no rushing through any of these phases.

And then I gave birth to Dimples – the Slowest Eater of All Mankind.

Here is a typical Family Dinner during the week:

Dimples and I arrive home around 5.  I have not eaten since 11 because that is the ungodly time my lunch is scheduled at school.  I am starving.  But I don’t want to snack because it is close to dinner time.

I call the Cap’n to find out if he will be working late or coming home for dinner.  If he is working late, I fix a no-fuss dinner right then and there for Dimples and me.  If he says he will be home for dinner, I wait until about 5:30, and begin the dinner preparation process – which begins with the Feeding of the Dogs.

Wonderbutt and Mrs. P.I.B. are as unsynchronized as the rest of the family – with Wonderbutt finishing approximately 5 seconds after the food hits the bottom of his bowl, and Mrs. P.I.B. waiting until every part of the environment meets her satisfaction (pantry door closed, at least one human family member within her vicinity, but no living creature within a 3 foot radius of her bowl).  Once Wonderbutt is finished, he hovers, hoping to get any tidbits Mrs. P.I.B. might leave behind – or to brazenly push his way to her bowl when she leaves her head lifted for too long.

Once I am done refereeing the dog meal, I begin to prepare dinner.

At 6:30, I serve whatever I haven’t eaten as I was pulling out of the oven because I am so ravenous.  The Cap’n is usually not home by this point.  He has no Dorfenbergerthalamus, if you recall, so he has probably gotten completely wrapped up in his work, and has no idea that it is even near dinner time.

At 6:45, I am finished with all three courses of my dinner.  Dimples has taken one bite out of a roll, and put some butter on her peas.

At 6:50, the Cap’n calls and says he is now leaving work.

I start doing dishes.

At 7:10, the Cap’n arrives.  Dimples has finished 1/8 of her meal.  The Cap’n serves himself up a plate of cold food, and sits down to eat with her.

At 7:35, the Cap’n is finished.  Dimples is about halfway done, and begs him to stay at the table with her while she eats.  Because he is a pushover where Dimples is concerned, he usually does.

At about 7:55, Dimples finishes, then gets upset because she has only 5 minutes before she needs to get ready for bed.

As I ponder the possible reasons for our unbelievably unsynchronized meals, I think I have come up with the answer.

We need to orchestrate the meals with music.

And possibly wear our bathing suits.

If you have any suggestions for appropriate music (preferably NOT from the score for The Sound of Music), feel free to give your recommendations.  If I put a little more effort and artistry into this, it could become the next Olympic sport.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Update to “They Probably Would Have Kicked Us Out of Austria”

This is not my actual post for today, but I thought those of you who read yesterday’s post might be interested in the Epilogue.  I picked Dimples up from her first day back to school today, and she nearly ran me over in her excitement.  She had choir practice after school, and the music teacher announced that they would be singing songs from Broadway shows for the Spring Concert, including songs from – you guessed it – The Sound of Music.  Perfect Friend, who slept over this weekend and was subjected to a showing of the movie (once I figured out how to download it from iTunes), is also in choir, and was apparently equally thrilled.  Dimples has assured me that she will be informing her music teacher at the next available opportunity of my song revision on my blog.

She is currently wandering around the house singing Jingle Bell Rock.  Go figure.

Warning: Mnemonics Can Cause Histrionics

A loving text from my husband to me yesterday morning.

“O.K.  not your boyfriend’s nickname?” was his joking response.

“Ha.”  As if.  With a husband named Cap’n Firepants, who needs an Idiot for a boyfriend?

Despite my husband’s seeming alarm, he is quite used to my unconventional methods of reminding myself of things.  It really didn’t surprise him at all that I would add a memo to our electronic family calendar so I could remind myself that one of my favorite bloggers was having surgery and I was supposed to send the patient some good thoughts that A.M.

Just that morning, as a matter of fact, I had employed two other memory techniques that just made Cap’n Firepants shake his head.

When he was about to get in the shower, I said, “By the way, your razor is in my makeup organizer in my medicine cabinet.”

He paused.  “Uh, why?”

“Well, I remembered late last night that I needed to ask you about those gift cards before you left for work.  You were already asleep, so I figured if I stuck your razor in my medicine cabinet, you would ask me if I knew where it was after frantically searching for ten minutes, and I would remember that I needed to ask you.”

He shook his head, told me where the gift cards were hidden, and headed in for his shower.

I continued to get ready for work.  Thirty minutes later, I grabbed the presents I was bringing to work with me and headed out the door.  Except my keys weren’t in the key bowl.

“Gosh darn it.  Where are my keys?” I was already running late.  Geez! Oh yeah. In the refrigerator.  That’s where I put them when I need to remember to bring something to work.  What was I supposed to remember?  The presents.  That were already in my hands.  So, basically, I remembered the items I was afraid I would forget, but not the device I was using to help me remember them.  Typical.

Once, I went on a trip to an education conference when our daughter was really little.  So, my husband’s parents came to stay with him to help out while I was gone.  I called the first evening to see how things were going.

“Guess what my parents found in the freezer?”  Cap’n Firepants asked me.

“Uh, chicken?”

“No.”

“Meatballs?”

“No.”

“Oh!!!!!  My keys?”

“No.”

Now I was really perplexed.  “Just tell me.  What?”

“Your curling iron.”

Oh yeah.  I had put it there to cool it off really quick before I stuck it in my suitcase.  So, now his parents not only thought I was a bad cook, but that I somehow figured cylindrical hair appliances belonged in one of the food groups.

If I had programmed a calendar reminder to look for my keys in the fridge to remind me to pull my curling iron out of the freezer, my in-laws would never have discovered what a whacko their son had married.  At least for another month or so.

I should be thankful, I suppose, that when the “Idiot’s Surgery” reminder popped up on my husband’s phone he did not promptly text me to ask what time my surgery was scheduled for that day.  Married to me for eleven years, and he still does not immediately jump to the conclusion that I’m an idiot.  There’s that.

Who Do You Think Pulls the Sleigh?

My sister, Crash, is on the left. When I became Santa (years later), the hardest part of Santa Boot Camp was learning how to descend cardboard chimneys. I learned not to wear such short skirts.

Sometimes my daughter can be extremely smart and devastatingly dense at the same time.  Her Santa Claus reveal is a perfect example.

A few years ago, when Dimples was 6, she started making little comments that hinted at her suspicions of Santa’s true identity.  One night close to Christmas, Cap’n Firepants had to work late.  Dimples and I were eating dinner, and she suddenly blurted out, “Mom, are you Santa Claus?”

Dimples has always been a pretty logical person.  I could have dodged the question, feeling quite comfortable in saying “no” because I actually am not Santa Claus.  I’m Mrs. Cap’n Firepants, and that’s burden enough.  But I knew what she was asking, and I decided to honor the spirit of her question.

“Do you really want to know?” I asked.  Because there is no going back once that question gets an honest answer.  Step over that line and part of your childhood is gone and, quite frankly, part of the parents’ childhood is gone, too.  Because we all live vicariously through the innocent joy and anticipation of our children during the Christmas season.

“Yes,” Dimples responded without hesitation.  Remembering how bummed I was when my mother finally gave me the affirmative answer to my own Santa question, and the betrayal I’ve felt ever since whenever someone insists on giving me T.M.I. on something I preferred to believe was magical, I was still reluctant to eradicate the entire North Pole franchise over a meal of fish sticks and macaroni.  But, unless I was imagining things, Dimples seemed almost hopeful that I would debunk this myth she had barely believed all along.

“I am,” I said.

Her eyes widened, and a big smile slowly widened across her face.

“I knew it!” she said. She wasn’t bragging about solving the mystery. Instead, she acted like I had just confirmed that I had my own super powers.  Like I was the one hopping into a souped up air-surfing vehicle every Christmas Eve with the intention of criminally trespassing a billion times in one night so I could leave behind a few gifts the elves had bought online from Walmart.

“This is so cool!” she exclaimed.

She couldn’t contain herself, leaping off her chair and giving me a hug (a rare demonstration from Dimples, who usually offers her back to you when you try to show too much affection) – apparently noticing that I was taking this news a whole lot harder than she was.

After a few minutes of one-sided celebration, she suddenly stopped, and looked up at me with a very earnest expression on her sweet face.

“Does Daddy know?”

Is There a Blogging Workman’s Comp?

I am trying to type this with a sixty-five pound bulldog in my lap.  A snoring bulldog.  Who does not make a very good iPad stand.  If it weren’t for my perpetually vigilant autocorrect, these sentences would be gibberish.  In fact, I was going to turn the autocorrect off so you could see what kind of handicap I’m working under, but I can’t find it, and I’m having trouble focusing because of the gas cloud that just wafted up to my nose.

I’m pretty sure if this continues, I am going to either have to stop blogging, get surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, or succumb to the fumes altogether one night.

Aforementioned bulldog has recently developed an intense sense of entitlement, and I am apparently the chosen Entitler.

After my day is supposedly done, demands of students and family all met, I blog.  It usually happens around 9:00 at night when I finally set my butt into the desk chair hoping to get an extended period of time absent of questions or pleas for attention.

Lately, that time hasn’t been too extended.

Wonderbutt, with the keen perception of pretty much everyone else in my life, knows that I am trying to fit in some alone time.  Naturally, he believes if I am not busy with anyone else, it must be time for me to spend time with him.  So, he waits by the gate to the Forbidden Section of the house, hoping I will cross over any moment.

Sometimes he waits like this.

Sometimes, like this.

This is what I imagine he is thinking:

Any moment.   Any moment…

O.K. I’ve waited long enough (a whole five minutes).  Time to notify the Lady of the House I am expecting her presence.  Now.  

And so, Wonderbutt makes a few, well-spaced plaintive comments about how long I am making him wait.  Afraid he will wake up Dimples or aggravate Cap’n Firepants, landing me back on square one in the Family Needs Met department, I make a mental note of my blog topic, grab my iPad, and hop over the gate.  Sometimes I fall over the gate.  I’m not very nimble any more.  Well, ever.

Wonderbutt cheerfully follows me to the living room, sits expectantly by the couch, and watches me sit.  When my leg placement finally meets his approval, he hops up, curls himself into a semicircle, plops his paw on my knee and his head on my leg, and goes to sleep.

I am well aware that I am coddling him, creating a monster, etc…

But I like it.  I can’t figure out why.  If one more human being needed me today, I would probably scream.  But I find Wonderbutt’s need comforting for some reason I can’t explain.

I am trying to relearn how to type with one finger.   I haven’t done that since I was in elementary school.  Typical of Wonderbutt to make me regress.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you have been finding my most recent posts to be somewhat lacking in quality, I would like to blame Wonderbutt for forcing me to work in less than ideal working conditions.

And if you haven’t noticed any difference, well just carry on and pretend you never saw this.

Wonderbutt Takes After Me

I recently read a very funny post by Not Quite Old regarding the decisions her computer likes to make about what e-mail she should read.  Her computer is The Decider.

My daughter is The UNDecider.  I swear, the kid refuses to commit to anything except my committal to an institution.

Here are a few of the quandaries she has had recently:

1.)   whether or not to wear long or short pajamas (it has been in 30’s for the last three nights)

b.)  what shoes to wear to her choir concert (flip-flops were part of this multiple-choice – see #1)

III.)  whether or not to wear a light jacket or a coat (see #1)

Four.)  whether we should buy Wonderbutt the rope toy attached to the ball or the ball toy attached to the rope – 10 more minutes of my life that I will never get back

Cinco.)whether or not to continue to use her princess nightlight

Experienced parents will nod their heads and tell me that I should enjoy the fact that my daughter still wants my opinion because, as soon as puberty hits, the child will be full of her own opinions and never ask my advice again until she is 40.

I say that you are wrong.

First of all, Dimples has always been like this.  And she doesn’t actually want my advice.  She wants to drive me crazy.  If I ever do offer my advice, she proffers the opposite.  If I agree with the opposite, she throws in another, completely off-the-grid, solution.  It is a no-win situation.  So, there is nothing to enjoy here.  And, clever People, if I try the Make Your Own Decision tact, it is equally excruciating.  She will do her thinking out loud as close as possible to my ears, procrastinating the choice until the reason for making the choice is long over.

Secondly, she will never change.  I know this because I know at least two other adults to which she is related, one of whom I am married to, who do the same thing.  Being in a car with the three of them is EXASPERATING.  Imagine agonizing over which fast food restaurant you will stop at WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR TEN MILES THAT YOU DON’T CARE – AND YOU REALLY, SERIOUSLY DON’T CARE – BUT THEY APPARENTLY DO BECAUSE THEY SHOOT DOWN EVERY NAME YOU PUT OUT THERE.  And – hey, look at that roadside stand selling watermelon over there!  Uh, what were we talking about – well, should we eat lunch now, or just stop at a rest area for a bathroom break?

If I finally decide to name a place with a very decisive tone that notifies everyone that this is the last word, no arguing, and everyone agrees, we will get into the parking lot, and one of them will, I swear, say, “Maybe we should try McDonalds instead.”  Which was never one of the choices we discussed to begin with.

I love Dimples.  She has a lot of things going for her, and I’m sure she will be a success in life.  Doing what she decides to do.  For the sake of our country’s future, I will do my best to discourage her from pursuing law or medicine.  However, I’m not sure I can keep her out of politics.  Sadly, I think she would fit right in.

Wonderbutt is very Decisive

 

Especially When it Comes to Things He Believes Need to Be Destroyed - Just a Bit like Hitler

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