Tuesday, December 30, 2008

a long long day

Try as I might, I can seldom get Quinn and Reilly up before 11:30am. I haven't decided whether this is because we homeschool, or if it's the reason we homeschool. I'm fairly casual about it because hell, I get a lot done in those quiet morning hours. But every other week I see Scott at 11:00am, and on alternating weeks it's 2:00pm. The 11 o'clock mornings are quite the scramble, no matter what time I put the little darlings to bed. In fact last night, in preparation for today's early session, I let Reilly spend the night at my mom's, so she'd already be there, and truth be told, Quinn is a bit easier to roust than his sister.

Imagine my surprise when I was awakened at 5:00am today by my smiling son, all showered and happy, and already done with his chores. He was hoping for some extra game time, to which I consented, and, since I am both a nightowl and an early bird, I got up and made a wicked to-do list. By 6:00am I had already vacuumed my car, done all the laundry, dusted the house, and mailed the New Years cards. I was really pretty pleased with myself, but dreading the day ahead, as I had appointments at 11:00 and 4:00pm, and would be marooned downtown for four hours. Ugh. I needed a calendar, so I planned to peruse the Book Bin for several hours, but was so frustrated by the selection (all kittens and outhouses [???]) that I grabbed the only suitable option (Hawaii), and fled. I was so smart, I drove v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y up Commercial to Lifesource to get a salad, but suddenly they're like $25.00/lb., so I left. Next up was Fred Meyer to buy impulse earrings and a gift for a friend, which was supposed to take at least an hour but somehow I was out of there in 12 minutes. I sauntered to my car, and got a text from a friend. Behind the wheel, I opted to relax and enjoy my text chat, hoping it would stretch out for two hours. At some point I decided that reclining my seat would make the chat oh so comfy, and uh, the next thing I knew, I was startled awake by a text from Pamela saying "I totally overslept today." I was so disoriented I just stared at it, groggily thinking maybe I had typed it myself, having just awakened from a very unexpected nap. We had casually spoken earlier of meeting for coffee, but none of that made sense to me in the moment. I just lay there, reclined, completely unaware of the fact that I was still at Fred Meyer, and had just slept there for two hours. It was as though I was a castaway, alone in the car, with no one around. Both liberating, especially since I devoured my ration of two Twix bars (shhh...), and frightening, because I was afraid that if I raised my seat, everyone in Salem would know that I was passed out in the parking lot like some hobo. Then Gab texted to remind me of my 4:00 appointment, so I bolted upright, and blasted the heat to thaw the icicles on my fingers. I still had 45 minutes, so I crept further up Commercial to get a bean burrito at Muchas Gracias. Sometimes they just give me the burrito, sometimes they give me the kids meal, sometimes it's $2.15, and sometimes it's $4.85. It's a roll of the dice, but it was life or death. Suddenly, at long last, I was actually in a hurry to make my appointment, since I always forget where it is, despite having been there yesterday. So I careened downtown, gobbling the messiest burrito in documented history, glops everywhere, curious passersby EVERYWHERE, but I made it just in time. Two hours later I was headed home to dive into disc one of Lost, season 4, which we have all been frothing over. Approximately 80 episodes in, a friend texted and wanted to meet, and I lept at the chance because I was eager to give her her misshapen, hideous gift. She was quite and gracious, though as Jacob says, I know she went home and spit it into her napkin. (It is not edible, fyi.)

I just walked in, and cleaned the living room, and got some things ready to mail, and sorted laundry, and decided to post this stream-of-consciousness crap. I am so ashamed to have napped at Fred Meyer. I may as well have curled up on one of their three-foot display beds. But it ate up two hours, so get off my back.

Believe it or not, I'm not ready for bed. There's still folding and wiping aplenty, and then perhaps I'll lie down. It feels like I've endured Chinese sleep torture, and yet my engine's still humming. It was great to have the extra two hours, and I've almost convinced myself that the nap never happened, but all the same, if my son ever wakes up at 5:00am again, I'm locking him inside one of my new ottomans...and I'm keeping the other one, along with a blanket, in my car.

Monday, December 29, 2008

gab, meet the twins:

I knew you were on the brink of violence about not seeing the ottomans, so this pic is just for you. And the seven other people who were disappointed by my egregious oversight in not posting pics in my christmas blog. My mom got me the first one, and then I had to buy another one because one seemed terribly unbalanced, and everyone was using it, and because I'm excessive.

Impressive right? You needn't point out that they don't match the glorious turquoise, wanna-be-mod throw pillows which I now loathe because turquoise sucks, and belongs in New Mexico. I already know.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

ottoman empire

Since I typically overwhelm my (two) readers with my pathological verbosity, I thought I'd give you some reprieve and overwhelm you with pictures instead. Yeah right, you I'm still going to blather on, pics or no pics.

We had an amazing christmas, and I hope you can all say the same. Naturally, during the preceding weeks of shopping, there were intermittent bouts of wanting to hang myself with my neighbor's noose (see previous blog), but even I can't reach that high, so I forged on, immersing myself in retail mania. We celebrate at my mom's, since Todd is Ebenezer Scrooge incarnate (said in love), and she and I always overspend. As magical as it is to watch my little darlings open 6,000 presents, the minute I haul all the shit home in 17 laundry baskets, I rue the day the baby Jesus was...well, I vow never to let it happen again. This year we made our tenth consecutive vow not to overdo it. And praise be to that sweet baby Jesus, we managed to tone it down this year. A lot. We promised to spend a little more on a few perfect gifts, and forgo (my dearest mother's propensity for) last-minute Rite-Aid impulse buys. The kids and I spent the night in the living room, watching Home Alone, and even though they are total sleeper-inners, I expected to be rousted and rushed to get to Gia's (my mom). To my surprise, they slept until 11:00, and it was I who shook them awake. En route to my ma's, as has become custom, I stopped at Starbucks and Jack-in-the-Crack for breakfast sandwiches so I don't become a bellowing tyrant about my kids eating candy in the morning. (I HATE that!)

The following are little portholes into an absolutely perfect christmas. (Well, except that Mom scoured the universe for a Barack Obama calendar, but was unable to find one. I was so sure I was getting one I actually asked, "Where's my calendar?" Lol.)

The loot: (Keep in mind this is for five people.)

Could this beautiful boy be any happier? He loves giving presents!

Gia, who brings christmas to life, with her beloved Quinn and Reilly:

The one day a year my semi-goth, pirate-loving, black-wearing girl gets all soft and festive (with her prized classic Rudolph):

The tiniest box in the world. I was obsessed with it, and didn't want to mar its cuteness by opening it. As for my chipped ghetto thumbnail? There's a story. Ever since I became allergic to every consumable food on earth, I have adhered to a diet of mostly bananas and dry Ramen. The weight is melting off so I've been whistling Dixie, you know? Except it turns out I'm malnourished because of my appalling prison food regimen, so my fingernails have begun falling completely off, a fact which no amount of polish can disguise. And my hair is falling out too. B says I will get scurvy soon. I'll have to brush up on my pirate jargon. Anyway, I love this box:

The collage we made Mom of her four grandkids:

Reilly's stocking was so overstuffed it begged us to call 911:

One thing Reilly really wanted was a diamond ring from an actual jeweler. I lucked out found the perfect one at Nordstrom (for $28), and we were all verklempt as her eyes filled with tears when she saw it. She says it's her favourite gift. (Heart melting.)

After going on a daunting treasure hunt, as is our custom for the kids' big present, I tricked Quinn into thinking I had gotten him some LAME video game, to which he responded with the perfect mixture of indignance and grace. He then discovered that inside the box was a receipt (reservation) for a soon-to-be-released game called Halo Wars, which was the only thing he wanted for christmas:

My mom and me, so happy to see everyone smile, and secretly happy it's fucking over. (ho ho ho) And no, my mom didn't get an eye lift, she's just trying to get ready for the flash:

Scorn me if you must, but they are the reason for the season. I have no idea why there is a haze over Reilly, nor why it looks as though Quinn's head is a transplant. What can I say, we're not perfect:

See? It was such a fabulous day my kids were glowing:

As always, we asked each other to name his/her favorite gift, and aside from Reilly's ring, which won out over a stereo and a scooter, none of us could. My mom cried over her certificate for the geese I bought in her name for a family in Africa through Heifer International. Same as last year, when I bought chickens. But she also loved her collage, and was awe-struck by the thought my kids into their gifts to her. Quinn's fave, when pressed, was Halo Wars. As for me, well, I have enough gift cards to build a house of cards, and you bet your ass I'm going EVERYWHERE tomorrow. If I remember, they were for Lane Bryant, Rockstar hair salon, Starbucks, and like 8 million dollars to Old Navy, since that appeared be everyone's default, lol. But, in terms of tangible things, I am so madly in love with my new red suede ottoman, I am going to fondle it right now, and buy another one tomorrow. I mean, these ridiculous legs have to go somewhere!

So that's my story, in too many pictures, and too many words. We have so much to be grateful for, and I hope everyone shared in that sentiment today. Thanks be to the fleet of friends who texted glad tidings as early as 7:08am. Not naming names (Megan). The deluge of festivity and love put a smile on this old curmudgeon's face.

And Jacob? Queen of evasive maneuvers and unanswered texts? I just want to say, I'll get you my pretty...and your little dog too!

Merry christmas guys.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

love thy neighbor?

Look, I'm the last person to judge the appearance of someone's house. After all, I live in a ramshackle 70's manufactured hovel, pieced together by the previous owners with, I'm guessing, Elmer's glue, duct tape, and a serious inability to comprehend symmetry nor really, aesthetics of any kind. So this post is not borne of malice nor judgement pertaining to the conditions in which people live. Just crazy fucks who clearly fell through the system.

But we have this neighbor, who lives at the end of the cul-de-sac behind us, whose home and yard are actually pristine. But something is terribly amiss. He, whose name I do not know, is a peculiar, and possibly dangerous, semi-shut-in, whose abode is plastered with a frightening assortment of signs and the most original lawn ornaments I've ever seen. Clearly he is mentally unstable. He drives through the neighborhood several times a day, at 1 mph, in a truck covered in confederate flags, looking for God knows what. But I'm guessing lesbians. Hear me out.

Several years ago while walking with the kids on said cul-de-sac, Todd and I were quite alarmed to discover that at the very bottom of his driveway was a seemingly brand new toilet, with a jug of bleach on the seat, and huge containers of laundry detergent sitting next to it on either side. Furthermore, his very clean dwelling is adorned with extremely explicit signs saying things like, "Hang the dykes," and "Bitch crossing." Now, it is worth noting that this is not Wisteria Lane, and we do not know our neighbors, especially the ones behind us, but somehow, Todd surmised that the target of these hostile, unsightly, visual assaults is a lesbian couple in a neighboring house. Mind you, I've never laid eyes on this couple, nor do I have any proof that they exist, nor does their house have a rainbow flag out front, nor anything else that might raise the ire of some crazy old coot looking for an outlet for his rage. Their house is clean, their yard well-cared-for, cars new. So my best guess is that his "crimes" are purely hate-driven, which makes me very glad his fence is sooo high, as it is in our yard. Oddly enough, while he has always raised every red flag I possess (and I've even borrowed a few from others), the kids and I used to see him every morning at Borders, when we used to do our schoolwork there. He ordered coffee, black, and chatted amiably with the staff, and then shuffled out, presumably to scour our neighborhood for any goddamn deviant dykes. Todd has also said that he's chatted with the psycho over the fence before, and that he was totally normal and conversational. But, um, hello! He has a toilet on his driveway, stacked with cleaning solvents, presumably to cleanse his territory from the vileness of the lesbians. (Gasp!) I mean really, can a person who patrols the streets eerily, and who has a toilet on his driveway, and a noose hanging from his antenna really even be on the spectrum of normal? My verdict is no. Recently, as the snow has invaded, I've walked around my back yard in the morning, and several times have heard him, though I can't see him over the fence, come out onto his porch as early as 7:30am to scream and bellow at the offending dykes. It is really disconcerting, and I am dying to know if they've actually done anything to him, besides exist.

So yeah, it's really odd, and sometimes creepy. I mean, one would think, even with an antenna from the olden times, that he could find something on TV compelling enough to keep his scary ass inside. Then again, we have premium cable and there's never a damned thing on...maybe I ought to start screaming out my front door at our neighbor who always parks askew in his driveway.

I was able to capture these pics from my back porch. I tried to peek around to snap the toilet, but the fence was too great a barrier in my invasion of his privacy. It's just as well, I'd prefer he not know I exist.

Friday, December 19, 2008

little miss jekyll and hyde

Recently, Reilly responded to a difficult situation by refusing to speak. Since this was as unexpected as the return of the Hale Bopp comet, I was a trifle concerned, and thus tried for an hour to coerce my chatterbox to talk to me. FYI: Anyone who enters a battle of wills with Reilly will lose. Period. A while later I encountered this note, and despite its eerie resemblance to a ransom note, I laughed my ass off.

Fast forward to today. Rei spent the day with my mom while I shopped, and when I picked her up, I was greeted by the sweetest snowman I've ever seen, which she made all by herself.

How can the same eight year old have written this note, and built this snowman?

Whence do these conflicting moods come?

The world may never know...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

when the weather outside is frightening...

Pretty much the only things that keep me home are vomiting, an empty gas tank, and impulse haircuts. Otherwise, I'm outta here. I have a strong aversion to being in my house for long, or even significant, durations. There are several uninteresting reasons for this, but they don't matter. What matters is that somehow Monday found me home all day, though I can't recall why. It was just Quinny and me, and he was all sprawled out on the couch reading, and growing an average of three inches per minute.

My kids get very excited about the gifts they buy, and every year they amaze me with the things they select. Not only that, but they have serious stealth powers when it comes to buying/wrapping/stashing. This year Quinn bought some awkwardly-shaped items, so when he finished his book he asked me to help him wrap...EVERYTHING HE BOUGHT. Sure, totally, I'd love to, right? So I hauled out our really awkward pseudo-bin I guess you could call it, and we proceeded to cover the entire living room with paper, bows, microscopic scraps, shards of errant ribbon, and so forth. Yeah, it was the best. My OCD went into Four-wheel-drive. Quinn knows the basics of wrapping. That is to say, things that are square or rectangular. But what do I do with a reindeer sticking mostly out of the package? Well honey, you get a bigger box, and some tissue, blah blah blah.

One thing he was really concerned about was attempting to use cursive on all the tags. He has written exclusively in ALL CAPS for like three years, so cursive requires an awakening of a whole new lobe of his brain. He was doing really well, but got angsty about capital G's. I wrote several for him, and confessed that they're not exactly my favorite cursive letter either. So he focused on the tiny, slippery tag, and ended up writing such a beautiful G we've been asked to ship the tag to the Smithsonian after christmas. I was really proud of him. He perfected taut corners, how to hold the seam and rip off the tape, and most importantly, improvisation. 'Cause you know, some shit is always going to go wrong when wrapping presents. He was so pleased to see everything wrapped (except for my gift, which he surreptitiously managed to buy today), and I was so pleased to get all the shiny, sticky, itty bitty wrapping scraps out of my living room. I was really proud of him, even though he did use one gold bow, and gold is really...not my favorite. I love that my kids love to give, and that they care about every detail.

I also love that I've been out at least three times a day since then, despite the snow and ice. That's all I'm saying.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

prison break

My kids' bedroom is approximately the size of a prison cell. Hell, our entire house is roughly the size of two prison cells, hence my constant battle with--and whining about--clutter. It's not that I can't keep it clean, I mean, it's no secret that I pretty much scrub it to the bone everyday. But the clutter, sigh... Quinn and Reilly share a cell, er, room, which is dominated by bunk beds, two full sized dressers, a 7-ft. bookshelf, various Rubbermaid stackable drawers, and scads of other so-called space-saving units stuffed to the brim with every knick-knack-paddy whack one could ever conceive of, and more. Reilly has what seems to be an incurable case of shop-a-holicism (don't know where she gets that, shhh), and is quite adept at stuffing it all away in crevices, drawers, underneath things, and among the menagerie that resides on her bed. Quinn is far less driven by the need to save every toothpick. (Which Rei would name "toothpicky" in an effort to humanize it and therefore be allowed to save it.) But he does have expensive Lego sets and Halo action figures that require safe, high-up living quarters, of which there were none. Until yesterday.

With christmas fast-approaching, I couldn't live another day with their room packed to the gills, so when the kids woke up, I announced that instead of daily chores, we were going to CLEAN OUR ROOM! Needless to say, they were popping champagne and turning cartwheels. Now, I was too ashamed to take a "before" picture, which I know cheapens the "after" picture, but I couldn't bear for Gail to see how bad it had gotten. My main priority was to throw away as much as I could, which meant that I held a trash bag close to me and tossed everything I could without them (Reilly) seeing. Bye bye toothpicky, rubberbandy, empty Ziploc baggy, you get it. I discovered that my girl saves every shopping bag, tag, errant v-shaped (ruined) bobby pin, and all their useless cousin trash. They've saved every birthday card they've ever gotten, so I picked out the few precious ones and slipped the rest into my burgeoning bag. Meanwhile, I set Reilly to culling through her stuffties and getting rid of some (by some I mean five--tiny ones). Quinn dutifully put away his laundry, rounded up wayward Legos and put them in the aforementioned leaning tower of stackable drawers, and was generally quite amenable to throwing things away. But my darling daughter fought hard to save every centimeter-sized piece of paper money she made ten years ago so her stuffties could have their own currency. Christ, I thought she was going to hire a lawyer. But Mama's sneaky, and won the battle. My goal was organize all their books so the two remaining shelves up top could showcase Quinn's precious figures. Mission accomplished, though naturally Mom set them up all wrong. Throughout gutting this catastrophe, I was wiping down every surface with Clorox wipes, and felt so good when the joint began to sparkle. Despite the fact that the kids have been over Dr. Seuss for like five years, I don't have the heart to get rid of all his books, so I crammed those in to their own special space.

The hardest part was when Reilly pulled 7,005 stuffties from underneath her bunk and spent two hours "sorting" them, by which I mean getting rid of none, but repacking them into assorted vehicles and weird things, just so, and mashing them back under the bed. Oh well. We ditched several large useless baskets and one giant mesh cylindrical nightmare receptical which housed a fleet of unused stuffties. Yea! I wasn't able to wrestle away the life-sized horse with duct tape on its legs, but you know, I was secure in my over all feat.

Finally, my moment came, and I charged in with the vacuum cleaner and squealed in delight every time an enemy particle was sucked away forever. Alas, the room is clean, and I no longer have worms of worry and dread crawling through my head about it. I'm really proud of my kids. So proud that I decided to assign chores after all, since we were on a roll. I'm so relishing the clean, shiny surfaces, and will enjoy them for 13 days until evil christmas invades and laughs in my face as the kids haul in all the things I'm so excitedly buying now, lol. But at least there are vacancies underneath the beds and dressers, so I can turn a blind eye for six more months until I can no longer longer tolerate the din of the paperclippy family, nestled somewhere in the bed rail.