Friday, October 31, 2008

Putting the Nasty in Nastia

Molly and I went to the Gymnastics Superstars event last night. It featured Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liuken, as well as the entire men’s 2008 Olympic team. Molly was beside herself with excitement, and so was I! I can still remember how enamored I was with Mary Lou Retton in 1984 and how I would have done anything, anything, to meet my loves-- Bart Conner and Mitch Gaylord. Tim Daggett? Yeah, him too.

Last night’s show was put on by Disney, so I expected a little Disneyfication, but I figured for the most part, it would be watching girls and guys in leotards performing amazing feats on the rings, the beam, etc, just like in the Olympics. The sweat of the gym, bright lights, grunts of exertion, some chalk dust in the air.

I hadn’t seen any commercials for it, so I was unprepared for the pseudo-sexual teenybopper rock aspect of last night’s show. Rather than leotards, the women wore sparkly bikini-like costumes or tiny school-girl skirts paired with thigh high stockings. The men’s team was shirtless with blue jeans (made out of very stretchy material, I presume) and cargo shorts. The lights were low and music blared the whole time.

It was weird to see Shawn Johnson, that beautiful little fireplug of muscles and power, tarted up in mesh and sequins flinging her hair around during her floor routine. Check out Shawn in this clip.
It’s funny b/c I’ve always thought that the Olympic leotards should be much more flattering, but after last night, I’ve changed my tune. Even though some leotards look like a sparkly duck died on the shoulder, and the bottoms tend to creep up during strenuous maneuvers, they lend an air of athleticism rather than voyeurism to the whole scene.

These young men and women are world-class athletes who have trained for years and years to be able to do stuff 99.95% of people could never do. I think their get-ups and gyrating dances took away from this. I mean I could dress up in a skanky outfit and dance with a ribbon. You wouldn’t want to watch me, but still.

Wires came down from the ceiling, transporting the gymnasts upward for a Cirque du Soliel effect. There was an all-girl rock band playing, plus Jordan Pruitt, whom I had never heard of, but Jake says is a Disney rocker he saw on a box of Mac and Cheese last year.

There was a whole Hannah Montana send-up and the male gymnasts dressed up like the Jonas Brothers. Good cross promotion, Disney.

Toward the end, Nastia donned a plain white, conservative leotard and did a floor routine set to “Ave Maria.” It was beautiful, albeit jarring after everything else we had seen up until that point. I couldn’t help but think that last night highlighted the Nasty over the Nastia.

I really believe we all would have enjoyed it just as much if it had been a straightforward gymnastics event. Oh well, the tweens ate it up! It was the best night of Molly’s life and Jake is sad he missed it. Nastia and Shawn looked like they were having a blast, too. Now I need to go get Molly into her Hannah Montana Halloween costume. Go figure.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thank You For Not Commenting

No, not my readers. I crave YOUR comments. This is for Tom. When I came home today with two mini-scarecrows to put in the pots in front of our house, but I didn’t have time to get milk for our breakfast tomorrow, you may not have noticed.

If you did notice, thank you for keeping quiet about it. You see, Halloween is 2 days away and I wanted to get a little decorating on. I have priorities. Like coming home and blogging about it.

I tend to think that if you had gone to the store for a big box of my favorite Special K and had come home with-- I don’t know…a baseball card-- I might have had a little something to say about it.

Thanks also for not getting ruffled about that little home improvement “To Do” list on the fridge. You know I like to write jobs down so we can have the satisfaction of crossing them off if we ever get to them. Thanks for not taking this as a personal affront to your manhood.

When you’ve asked me to pick up stamps while I’m out, I’m sorry for those times I’ve acted like you are trying to oppress me and all womankind. I guess sometimes a stamp IS just a stamp, and a #2 coffee filter is just a #2 coffee filter.

While we’re at it, thanks for never once, in the 9 ½ years since I quit teaching, ever uttering the words, “But you’re home all day anyway.” Good decision. Good man.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thank You for Your Support

It’s time to say goodbye to an old friend-- a friend who has seen me through thick and thin and thicker. Through childbirth and nursing and beyond. Through weight fluctuations and mood fluctuations.

Over the years my friend became a bit beaten down and strung out. Others sometimes implied that this friend wasn’t good enough for me anymore and that I should start looking for a replacement. I resented the implication and remained loyal for a few more years. We exercised together, and then quit the gym together-- again. We shared insomnia and late night ice cream runs.

Today, however, was the final straw. My friend failed me in a dramatic way and I just knew I had to look somewhere else for much-needed support. I can now admit it: my favorite bra, dingy and torn, has to go.

If you’ve had kids, you know how your life changes dramatically in so many ways. I’m not even going to get into the physical changes here, some of which do focus in the bra arena, but rather, I'll mention the psychological. The need to be ready to spring into care-giving mode on a moment’s notice changed my habits. Namely, when I had kids, I went from sleeping in the raw to sleeping in a bra, and this comfy cotton number was always my favorite.

I remember a while back Tom asking, “Since when do you sleep with a bra on?” I was like, “Thanks for noticing. This thing hasn’t left my body since 1999." Daytime, nighttime, my bra was the best.

Today I found 3 snazzy yet utilitarian numbers to replace Old Faithful. I hope I’ll like them half as much. Well done, old friend, well done.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quite the Duds

I am trying to fathom how anyone could spend $150,000 on clothes. In today’s papers Sarah Palin denied that amount, and I hope she’s right, because I just cannot wrap my mind around such a staggering number.

It makes me sick that citizens will pony up huge donations to pay for a candidate’s clothes, or, after an election, to replace the rug in the Oval Office ($30,000-50,000--replaced in EVERY new administration, Republican or Democrat), but would these same people donate as much to address world hunger or eradicate malaria??

Today I went to Wal-Mart to stock up on necessities and I actually found some adorable clothes there. Okay, I know I should consider quality over price, but these were semi-trendy clothes, and I’ll feel a lot better next season when today’s baby doll styles are out if I spent $50 rather than $1500 on them. BTW, is that whole sweatshop thing resolved, or do I need to stop buying clothes at Wal-Mart?

I’m sure Sarah Palin has a Wal-Mart in Wasilla, so if she’s reading this, I’d like to give her an idea of what I got for my $226 today: two birthday gifts, jumbo TP and paper towels, 3 bras, 3 sweaters, one trendy blazer, 5 loaves of bread, English muffins, 8 yogurts, 5 boxes of cereal, hair clips (yep, banana clips), 4 bottles of Acai juice, laundry detergent, canned food, snacks, turkey, cleaning supplies, and a few other items I can’t identify from the receipt but that seemed really important when I was there.

Now I’m not saying that Sarah Palin and other politicians must shop at Wal-Mart, Target, and thrift shops like I do, but, hello, how about giving Ann Taylor or J. Crew a try?

Friday Confession

I'm already on my third round of candy corn for the season. I've gone through 1/2 a bag of Skittles and just opened the Reeses assortment Tom bought for trick or treaters. I hate to think I'll have to make a run to the store on Halloween night, but why should this year be any different?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dropping the Ball

This morning we ran out of milk. And toilet paper. And tampons. Each of these might not have seemed like a big deal individually, but together they meant a very stressful start to my day.

I liked it when there was someone here all day who made sure we were well-stocked in necessities. When I opened the closet, towers of paper towels greeted me and made me feel secure. She also made sure the house didn’t look like a sty and that we didn’t accidentally put our NetFlix movies in the recycle bin. She bought a lot of Lean Cuisines on sale so I didn't have to eat Candy Corn for lunch. Oh well.

For those of you who have been ably juggling a job, family, and keeping everyone in food and personal care items for years, I salute you. I hope I get better at it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On Discovering My Son is a KABOB*

I've been a tad stressed about writing because this is my 100th post. A lot of people do something special for their 100th, such as writing 100 things about themselves. I've got squat! So I hope a regular post will do.

I’ve been meaning to share with you an event that Jake, Molly and I attended called Brick Fair. As you know, Jake is a huge Lego fan. On the first day of school when he told the class he wanted to be a Lego designer when he grew up, he said some kids laughed at him. So, when outraged Mommy found out there would be a Lego extravaganza in our town, I took him, hoping to support his passion.

Molly wasn’t psyched to go along, but she rose to the occasion. Thousands, yes thousands, of people lined up around the outside of a hotel waiting to get in. A woman with 3 kids and a stroller smoked in our faces as we waited—thanks Lego Mom! 45 minutes and $30 later we were in and surrounded by AFOL’s.

AFOL’s are Adult Fans of Legos. You see, while this event attracted numerous children, it was really a weekend convention geared to adults who still love to build with Legos. They painstaking planned, assembled, disassembled, transported and reassembled behemoth creations—castles, cities, bridges, a huge American flag, and mythical creatures—so they could share them with fellow AFOL’s and children. There were awesome robots. In one entire room, a huge chain reaction machine involving Legos, pulleys, computers and trains, transported little balls from one place to another. The men (yes, mostly men here) wore headsets and communicated with one another electronically. Jake was in heaven.

Now, I don’t mean to be harsh, but I know that Trekkies and Star Wars fans get mucho grief about how geeky they are. Let’s just say AFOL’s can hold their own in geekdom. While on the one hand I was encouraging Jake to explore his passion and assuring him he never need outgrow his Legos, I also inwardly hoped he wouldn’t become one of the AFOL’s walking around gushing at different creations, taking pictures, wielding an 8” x 8” jumbo Lego-covered name badge with nary a child in sight. I'm hoping he'll at least have a kid as a cover. A few young AFOL couples (matching plastic Lego badges, striped knees socks and overalls, no children) convinced me that Jake can one day find a woman to share his brick building passion.

I did crack up over one dad’s amazing creation—our favorite of Brick Fair. It was a humongous castle complete with secret passages, moats, a dungeon, a chapel, etc. dubbed “Kathryn’s Castle” in honor of his daughter. As he spends thousands of dollars adding to it in his basement, he can just tell his wife he’s doing it for his daughter. Yeah, right Dad.

Oh, AFOL’s are very touchy about, well, touching. Head bent over Lego bricks, no eye contact whatsoever, an AFOL can somehow sense if little fingers are sneaking close to a colorful brick. “Hands off!” they shout, never raising their eyes from their work. Jake already hates it when anyone goes near his Lego creations, so he will be well prepared for this aspect of AFOL-dom.

In all, Brick Fair rocked. I got to feel like a supportive mom, and of course I loved my window into a subculture I heretofore had no idea existed. Jake felt buoyed in the knowledge that he was not alone in his love for all things brick. Molly, well Molly got to get her shopping mojo on by buying a few trinkets for Jake and herself. Tom? He was at the office, which is good since he can’t stand crowds. Next year, however, is his turn. In fact, his mom and dad still have his old box of Legos from childhood, so Tom could still turn into an AFOL and I can be his NLS.

A few terms:
“Adult Fan Of LEGO or AFOL refers to those adult hobbyists who build with or collect LEGO. Quite often these people played with LEGO as children, went through what are called Dark Ages, in which their interest in LEGO waned, but then regained their enthusiasm for the hobby.”
NLSO - Non-LEGO Significant Other: the partners of AFOLs
NLS - Non-LEGO Spouse: like NLSO but requires marriage
NLF - Non-LEGO Friend: other people in the lives of AFOLs
*KABOB - Kid with a Bunch of Bricks

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Christmas in October?

I'm having a hard time getting pumped up for Christmas shopping for the kids (yes, we are already thinking of this at our house) when a lot of their toys are still wrapped in garbage bags from this summer's lice infestation. They haven't missed them at all.

It's disheartening to have so much junk that you need to get rid of some before bringing more in. I feel bad about it, but we grant Jake's gift requests much more willingly than Molly's because he wants things like Legos. Okay, he just wants Legos. Tom was a big Lego guy when he was little, so we have the nostalgia factor going on. I don't like the outrageous prices, considering he already has thousands of pieces, but the plus for me is that they store neatly in nice plastic tubs. I like order.

Molly's requests usually cost 1/10th the amount of Jake's, but they just don't have the same appeal to us. She is as happy playing with a piece of yarn, a roll of scotch tape and a tube of lip gloss as a $50 toy. This leads to good, creative play that is a cheaper, but exponentially messier than Jake's. It kind of makes me just want to buy her a pack of pipe cleaners and a cool temp glue gun and set her loose with them.

She is not a hoarder, but she could be described as a collector. Chaff and grain are thrown together in various piles around her very small pink bedroom. Clothes mingle with stuffed animals, schoolwork, and Ranger Rick magazines. Sometimes I go in and throw away little slips of paper and various treasures when she's off at school, but I feel like a jerk doing so. Why is a plastic Lego precious, but not a scribbled song lyric by a future Rock and Roll star?

If she asked for one high quality item (read: American Girl doll) rather than a dozen little plastic items (Littlest Pet Shop animals again!) it'd be easier to comply. But the American Girl dolls have been in lice quarantine since September and have not been missed. Now I'm afraid she's going to ask for MORE stuffed animals to bring into the fold.

When the kids were younger we got them each three gifts: one book, one toy, and one board game. We got this number from the gifts the 3 Wise Men brought baby Jesus. I am not sure when we stopped doing this, but it wasn't because the kids asked for more. As parents, we would just see one more cute thing and want to buy it-- another book, a calendar, a toy car. Before we knew it, our 3 gift limit was shot. Last year I had a whole stocking full of thrift shop goodies that were simply overflow presents.

When I was little, we seldom got anything on our lists. I now know that's probably because I asked for crap and my mom was crap-averse. I'd like to post a Christmas list I found in which I asked for a Shrunken Head Kit that could turn an ordinary apple into a delightful shrunken head. Hmmm. I usually moped around on Christmas thinking I'd gotten the shaft once again. Calling my neighbors, the Joneses, never helped matters. Keeping up with them, as I'm sure you could guess, proved almost impossible.

Oh well, I have 2 1/2 months to ponder these things. The economy could answer some of these questions for me, or at least motivate us to re-institute the 3 gift tradition.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Friday Confession

I am a fast-talking person whose mouth sometimes gets me into trouble. Sticky situations happen more than I’d like to admit. Fortunately, sometimes I see God work through the humiliating messes I make and teach me something important.

If you know me personally, this Friday Confession won’t be new to you; if you are a blog friend, I know this post is long, but I hope you’ll have a chance to read it anyway:

My family moved about 5 years ago. I loved my old neighborhood, and I was nervous about making new friends in my new home. As I settled in, I waited hopefully for a family to move into a vacant house a few doors down. I prayed that they would have young children and that we would be friends.

One day, as I pulled into my driveway, I saw people in the kitchen window of the vacant house. It was a family! Instead of calmly driving up to my house and coming back later, I pulled over and jumped out of my car. I had always tried to be super-friendly in my old neighborhood, and I wasn’t going to let two cranky toddlers and a full bladder stop me from rolling out the welcome mat!

As I crossed the lawn, a cute mom came out of the house holding a baby and leading a four year old by the hand. Jackpot! As I introduced myself, the wheels started turning. This woman had potential… best friend potential! I pictured us swapping babysitting, planning Halloween parties, the works.

My kids yelled and screamed, wanting to get out of the car, but I was on a roll. Within two minutes, the woman knew ½ my life story, where I attended church, and where the best parks were.

When I pointed out my house, I launched into an amusing tale that I had told pretty much the whole neighborhood since moving in. Yes, we liked our house, but we knew we had overpaid for it. Why? Well, we got into a massive bidding war with some random couple that jacked the price up 11,000 dollars. The hilarious things was that by looking at the signatures on the documents I figured out I had dated the husband in college. Ha! Ha! She and I laughed together.

A few moments later the woman said something that hit me like a freight train. It became obvious to me, but somehow not to her, that I had been talking about her and her husband. They were the ones who had lost the bid on our house. They were the ones I was gossiping about. Crap. Crappity-Crap. Crap.

I felt sick and ashamed; I wanted to move. My whole life I had been so proud of making people feel good about themselves, and for being loving. Yet here I was, talking about someone, insensitively, right to her face.

At this point I could have fled, but I knew I had to address the situation immediately. Full of misery, I confessed my mistake and asked her to forgive me. Do you know what she said with a warm smile on her face? “That’s okay. We extroverts do that sometimes!” I wanted to kiss her.

This woman, a total stranger, helped illustrate to me, in a very real way, what GRACE means. I did not deserve her favor, her forgiveness, but she gave it to me anyway. I felt low, terrible, and ashamed of myself, but she made it right.

At that point I had a choice to make. I could wallow in my mistake, bringing it up again and again, even though it no longer bothered her. I could try to AVOID her, because seeing her would remind me of my own faults, OR I could accept what she offered and move forward.

This is the way it is with God. He offers us forgiveness and grace even though we can’t earn it and don’t deserve it. If we accept it, there is no need to look at the past anymore. Instead, we can move forward in a relationship.

Since that time, my neighbor and I have become super-close. We are freakishly alike and we know we can be real with each other. When she and her husband had their third child, Tom and I were blessed to be asked to be the godparents. This rich relationship wouldn’t have been possible without her offer of grace, and my acceptance of it.

An Inch of Gray, A Dearth of Friends?

Seems like an inch of gray may not be the way to go. Is this why my phone hasn't been ringing lately? Check out this Clairol ad from 1944 and see why.

(click on image for a closer look)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I started a new job today after 9 1/2 years at home-- more on that later-- but I thought you would enjoy the kind words I got from the family this morning. Tom wrote me a little note on our kitchen chalkboard. Here it is:

Molly encouraged me in her own way, which I loved!

Her wish for me is my wish for you in whatever you do today, whether at home or in an office: Work is boring, but I hope it isn't for you.

Monday, October 13, 2008


With school in session, I can take care of a lot of things I put off during the summer, things I don't want to have the kids around for. I'm thinking haircuts, doctors' appointments, the dentist. This has not always been the case. If you are an at-home mom with little ones, you have probably taken your kids lots of places you wish you hadn't. Even a trip to the grocery store can be a major pain.

I remember taking both kids to the gyno with me when they were little. This, of course, would not have been my first choice, but circumstances prevented my getting a sitter that day and off we went. Now a pregnancy visit is one thing-- pee in a cup, the weigh-in, a little feeling of the tummy. This was an annual exam.

The waiting room wasn't bad, although I wonder if a few of the pregnant women were self-righteously thinking, "MY kids will never act like that!"

Does this happen to you? When the waiting room time is over, you think you're close to seeing a doctor, but instead you are tucked into a tiny examining room, told to strip, and then you wait for a seemingly interminable length of time. Maybe it just seems long because of the lack of pants.

When you are on your own, you can artfully fold your little pile of clothes on a chair, pull the paper robe around you and read old copies of Good Housekeeping. With an 18 month and a three year old in tow, you are simply on germ and damage patrol.

Keeping order in such a small space was nearly impossible for me. Within seconds, my neat pile of clothes hit the floor and Molly started caressing the Sharps container. When I got her away from that, she tried to lick the stirrups. Ugh. Three year old Jake was easier to restrain. Sure, at one point he opened the door to expose me in my paper-gowned glory to folks in the hallway, but I actually think that helped get the doctor in sooner.

During my exam, Jake asked, "Mommy, why does that man have his hand in your bottom?" Yikes. I quickly thrust an old National Geographic at him. "Here, read about the pretty zebras." My exam was brief, to say the least, and after the doctor's hasty retreat, I retrieved my clothes from the floor and began to dress.

Jake soon had another question, "Mommy, why are these people all bloody?" Yep, zebras may have been on the cover, but the magazine was documenting a massacre, in full color.

For those of you in the throes of toddlerhood and preschool, I wish for you unencumbered visits to the gyno, the dentist, and maybe even to get a pedicure. The day will come when you can do all these things on your own again. I know we aren't to wish away our kids' childhoods, but I think in certain circumstances it's okay.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Confession

I’ve always been a bit of a wordsmith, so I’ve decided to focus this Friday Confession on times words have turned, well, awk-----ward for me.

Scene 1:
College French class. Upper level French Phonetics. I was zoned out, thinking about that night’s fraternity party, while the professor wrote on the board. Seeing the vacant look in my eyes, she called on me to pronounce the word on the board. Since I hadn’t been paying attention, I assumed what I saw must be one of the many French words yet unfamiliar to me. “Keeeeeeeet,” I said, in my perfect French accent. Laughs and giggles. The word was in English: kite.

Scene 2:
Let’s go back farther. Sixth grade. I was walking down the hall after school with my two buddies, both boys. We discussed all of the things we had learned that day. When talk turned to math, I volunteered what I knew about geometry, specifically triangles: “Isosceles, Scalene, Scrotum.” Yes, this was the same week we started “Family Life Education,” or Sex-Ed. The good news is, I don’t think my young buddies picked up on it.

Have a great long weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Too Little Information?

Jake is fascinated with movie ratings right now. He is astounded and appalled that some parents let their kids watch PG-13 movies before they are 13. This is one of those cases when I am glad my kid is a rigid rule follower. Definitely helps with movie and video game monitoring.

He is pretty curious about what earns films their ratings and has a good idea about PG-13, but is less clear on R and the other one (that I am afraid to type here b/c I don't want to come up on anyone's weird Google searches).

He couldn’t understand why mom and dad might even want to watch an R movie, so I explained to him that although there might be some foul language and violence in a movie, the rating is probably because the themes presented relate more to an adult’s life than a child’s. In fact, a child would probably find it boring. Whew.

I have no idea how he learned that the other rating exists-- probably at the lunch table-- but he is equally curious.

“Mom, what is in a (letter after W) movie?”

“I’m not quite sure, honey, because I’ve never seen one.”

“Well, is it violent?”

“I guess so.”

“Is there a lot of cussing?”

“I bet there is.”

“So mom, those movies have people running around killing each other and cussing?”

“Yes, Jake, I think you’ve got it.”


“Um, Jake, I think there might also be some nudity.”

“So it’s naked people running around cussing and killing each other?”

“Yes, Jake, I believe it is.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Am I Blue?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an Anna See in possession of a gift card must be in want of a blue sweater. Most birthdays and major holidays Tom bestows upon me a gift card to a store that is much nicer than where I usually shop (like Goodwill or the side of the road).

I take the gift card to the store, and after searching the racks, settle on a beautiful sweater or blouse in some shade of blue. Imagine my surprise when I hit Ann Taylor Loft yesterday and couldn’t find a single article of clothing in my favorite hue. Clothing colors are cyclical, and apparently with my “summer” complexion of fair hair and eyes, I’m just not “in” this fall.

The saleslady brought me lots of choices of colors—reds, mustards and purples. When I tried on a burnt orange sweater she yelped, “That’s it! Orange is definitely your color!” Now it’s not as if I thought the earth would spin off its axis if I didn’t fall back into my blue sweater rut, but is it really possible at this advanced stage for “my color” to change? I politely tried on a few more orange things while the other shoppers circled around me voicing ardent approval and unsolicited advice like some sort of Greek Chorus.

I wasn’t sure whether they were messing with me. Perhaps there was a quota to push orange items pre-Halloween. So, I brought back a shirt in the brightest, most vivid emerald green I’d ever seen. Would they rave about this too? Silence by all. This, decidedly, was not my color. But I just loved, loved, loved it. Have you ever bought something that you knew wasn’t the most flattering just because you just HAD to have it?

Total haul: one black shirt (safety), one burnt orange sweater (peer pressure), one emerald green shirt (independence!).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Confession

My friend Kate over at The Big Piece of Cake likes to share “Friday Confessions” and entertain her readers with the quirky things she does. I, of course, thought I had nothing to share. Ha! Here goes one:

I just opened a birthday card and looked at the back to see how much the sender spent on me. What's up with that? I don't know if this is a habit, or whether it was the first time. After I did it, I actually found myself wondering if I could gauge how much our relationship was worth based on what they spent. It was the cutest card, adorable actually, and just my style. Retail price? $1.99. I felt a little, well, bummed.

Now I’m a bit freaked because, as you may know by now, I am notoriously… thrifty. I love to buy 10-packs of cards at Michael’s for $1.00. Does that mean my friends think they are worth a mere 10 cents to me? Eeek.

Costco has those big boxes of assorted cards with all sorts of embellishments and glitter on them. When I buy those, I think I’m being extra cool and generous because they look so fancy. The problem is, the card selection rarely changes. Soooo, if you are a regular Costco shopper (I still prefer to call it Price Club), you totally know if someone is sending you one. And at 30 + cards for a mere $15.00, you could get a bit of a complex.

Having such a storehouse of cards also makes me run the risk of sending the same card several years in a row. My friend Jenn? She seems like a sparkly, cute 3-D purse kind of a girl. Is that because of her personality, or because I keep sending her the same card?

My mother in law never forgets a holiday. She has a tight relationship with her local Hallmark store. I could get all puffed up seeing her spend a whopping $5.00, okay $4.99, on me. However, if I start to over think it, I get a little deflated. After all, she’s in the club. Does she really like me 50 times more than I like my girlfriends, or does she just love racking up those gold crown points?

I do hope this post won’t scare anyone off from sending me a card in the future. Seriously, mail is precious. If you do dare, I promise I won’t turn it over!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why Blogging is Dangerous

Certain people think blogging is dangerous because of privacy concerns. I think it’s for other reasons. I’d like to tell you what happened here last night. My stomach flu-addled self was freaked when we got a call from a mom saying that yet another girl in class has lice. You know how I feel about lice, so I decided to get ready for the onslaught.

My first step was to get out our heavy duty lice combs and boil them so they’d be ready for action. Then, I proceeded to head downstairs to my computer to read some blogs. I got caught up in a blog put out by a crazy in my town, who writes all sorts of inflammatory stuff about our town council members. I am used to reading wildly entertaining and edifying blogs by my fellow bloggers each day, not this vitriol, but I found myself caught up rather quickly.

About ONE HOUR into it, I smelled something burning, and didn’t even bother to investigate. Probably Molly’s sneakers getting a little overheated in the dryer. When I started to gag and choke, I turned around and looked upstairs. The house was filled with thick gray smoke, with the most disgusting burning chemical smell imaginable. In the kitchen I saw the pan that once held the lice combs on the stove. Metal on metal, not an ounce of water or plastic left. All of the plastic had disappeared, apparently straight into our lungs. I put the pan outside and started opening doors. By this time it was almost midnight. The smoke had primarily bypassed me, since I was on a lower level, but had shot straight up to the tippy top of the house where the kids were sleeping. It had been burning quite a while before I noticed.

Now if you are wondering whether that Dateline stuff about kids not hearing smoke alarms is true, believe it! The alarms were going off and didn’t wake either kid or my husband. I woke Tom. He turned off the alarms, opened our window, and went back to sleep.

I went to the kids’ rooms, opened their windows (note to self: get new windows that are NOT painted shut), turned on their ceiling fans, and stuffed towels under their doors. I wasn’t sure whether I was keeping the bad stuff out or in, because it truly was everywhere. Jake’s room was the worst because it was the end of the line, smoke-wise.

After that, I was on watch for the rest of the night. With all the doors wide open, I stayed awake in case some sort of critter decided to waltz in our door. I checked on the kids hourly to see if they were breathing. I toyed with the idea of taking them to a motel, because it was taking hours for the rooms to clear. My husband’s slumber was both comforting and annoying. Okay, it was just plain annoying.

He has slept through hurricanes in this house, while I stayed awake worried about a huge tree coming down on the kids’ heads. He happily tucked them in bed in the 105 degree heat when our furnace whacked out on New Years. Both times I suggested moving them to the basement or our bed, or out of the house. It seems that as long as they are in their own beds, he is incapable of worrying about them. This is annoying because it puts the entire worry burden on me. Why I didn’t move them to the basement last night is beyond me. I just thought of that right now, and it makes me want to cry.

About 4 a.m. I tried to engage him in a little discussion.

“Tom, our kids have always been of above average intelligence! What will a whole night of chemicals do to their brains?”


“Tom, the asbestos was nothing compared to this! Ever heard of Chernobyl? 3-Mile Island? Our lungs are shot. We WILL all get cancer, you know!”


The good thing about his non-engagement is that he doesn’t say, “What kind of mother almost catches the house on fire because she can’t pull her lazy butt away from the computer for 5 seconds! You haven’t gotten off the couch in 5 days because of the “stomach flu” yet you manage to fill our house with toxins, effectively ruining our lives and our children’s futures when most normal people are already in bed!” or, “If you would quit obsessing about lice, perhaps you would be less likely to burn the house down.” So, although I really need someone to process this with me, I guess it’s okay that that someone won’t be Tom.

Those who know me personally may think I am exaggerating a wee bit in this post, but I am not. I have huge mommy guilt on me right now and worry about what we breathed in. I really think I should have gotten them out of the house last night, or at least to the freaking basement, but I didn’t. There have been plenty of other times in parenting when Tom and I have been slow to face problems, and this alarms me because last night did not prove we are heading in a better direction. It makes me lack confidence in our roles as protectors.

A few positives:

The disgusting table and chair smell are not as noticeable now that the whole house smells like burnt plastic.

The hermit crab lives! Did I hear that they were around during dinosaur times? I believe.

And most importantly, we all appear to be safe, for now, thank God!

Warning: blogging can be dangerous.