Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vet your child's wish to Santa!

We have a favorite Santa we love to see each year.  He's awesome.  In fact, he's the Santa who gave C the coin after the fireworks in the other story.  However, tonight I was remembering another time we saw this Santa.  A very fateful, and as it turns out, auspicious trip. 

C was 3 1/2 years old, and it's a weekend in December.  I had just found out a few days before I was pregnant, and we were pretty happy.  We asked C what she wanted for Christmas, and she had a few ideas...I can't remember what, but they were pretty standard for a 3 year old.  So we get to Santa, take the pic, and he says, "What would you like Santa to bring, little girl?"  She ponders this a moment, silently contemplating a range of options, and says, "I really want....little sisters." 

I'm sorry?  Wha....You can see the shock and confusion on Santa's face.  He's eyeing me sideways and sweating a bit.  Seriously, how does he answer this?  "Ummmm...well, that's not up to me...."  So I step in to rescue Santa.  "Don't worry, Santa, we've got that covered."  I pat my belly.  He looks relieved.  "Well, little girl, we'll see what we can do, but I don't think any little sister or brother will come by Christmas." 

"No, Santa, I want little sisterSSS," she says, stressing the "s."  Little sisters?  I look at my DH, he looks at me.  Uhhh...hmmm...we didn't necessarily PLAN on having any more kids...So Santa hastily offers her a candy cane and shoves her off towards us.  Can you blame the man?  How the heck is he supposed to handle this?  My DH and I aren't sure how to handle it!

It's January, the Monday night before I go in for my ultrasound.  DH and I are excitedly discussing the baby (I was sure we were having a boy).  He looks at me and says, "Heck, let's have twins!  That way we'll have a big family and get it all over with."  I'm sorry, who is this WE business, buddy?  I'm the one who has to carry these.  Twin boys?  No way!!  I am not sure if I can keep up with one!

So it's Tuesday morning, and we're off to the ultrasound.  The tech looks at my belly and says, "You are kind of big for 10 weeks, you know."  So I've gained weight!  Thanks a lot!  Don't you know you get bigger faster the second time around?  I lay down, and look!  There's the baby.  Oh, so cute!  We buzz around the little one.  At 10 weeks we can't know the sex yet, but we can enjoy seeing our child look like...well...a child.  Then she flips the wand to the other side...Startled, I blurt out, "Was that another head?!?" 

DH looks at me, I look at him, blank mirrors of shock.  The tech responds, "Yeah, didn't you know that?  Why else would your uterus be so big at 10 weeks?"  She sees our faces, and says, "Oh...ummm...yes, you're having twins..."  GEEEAAAAAAGH!!!  I tell friends and family.  Everyone is overjoyed, except for one friend, who responds, "Holy S&%$!"  THANK YOU!!  That was exactly what I was thinking!!!

We come home and tell C the news.  She calmly replies, "Of course you're having twins.  I told Santa I wanted little sisterSSSS."  By now we're starting to think again, and I say, "Sweetie, what if you are having little brothers?  Or a sister and a brother."  Smugly she returns to eating her snack.  Hmmm...I'm just hoping she won't be disappointed.  Over a couple of weeks I finally convince her to consider the possibility of at least one brother. 

Two weeks later we're at the perinatalogist.  Once again it's ultrasound time, but fortunately we're better prepared for what we're about to see.  This time C is there, along with Gama.  The pictures on the TV aren't very interesting to her, and she's more concerned about whether or not she'll get a sticker at the end of this.  The tech says, "Do we want to know the sex?"  At 12 weeks?  Is that even possible?  C says, "Yes, I want to know about my little sisters."  The tech looks at her, stunned, looks at me, and says, "You already knew they were girls?"  My jaw drops.  C says, "Well, that's what I asked Santa to bring me, even if it was after Christmas." 

"Are you sure they are girls?" I ask.  "It's so early in the pregnancy."  The tech points to the screen, indicating genitalia.  "If they were boys, there would be something there," she replies.  "Definitely girls."  I look at my crestfallen DH.  In a small voice, he asks, "But...what about my boy?"  We all sit in silence, then tartly I respond, "Honey, when you can carry it, you can have whatever you want!" 

So long story short, the point is this: Be VERY certain you know what your kids will ask of Santa for Christmas.  He's a heck of a lot more powerful than you may realize! 

Oh, and I'm taking my eldest to buy lottery tickets...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guys may be guys, but BOYS can be idiots!

I have to get this off my chest because I was SO ANNOYED this morning!!  I want to start by saying that when I'm talking about boys here, I'm not talking about the entire male gender.  Nor am I talking about males who are toddlers, pre-adolescents, college age, etc.  I'm talking about that subset and middle-aged males who REALLY shouldn't be know whom I mean.  Those guys who are 47, living at home, and whining because Mom won't let them put a FOURTH X-box in the living room....Definitely not smart enough to appreciate just how little responsibility they have, and how lucky they are that someone ELSE wipes their noses!

This morning C was participating in a Thanksgiving play written by and starring the kids in her enrichment group.  They made their own costumes and props and did all their own research.  I am so impressed with her first grade teacher!  It was just a 3 minute play, but there was a lot of good knowledge in there!  Her teacher has created a very student-centered, technology rich classroom, and I must say she's very inspiring to me!!  The kids love her, too. 

C also wrote an original joke that she was to read on their school news program, so I had to get her in early to be on time.  (Her joke: How does a turkey get into his house?  By using the "key" in his name - Tur-KEY!)  So I dropped her off and decided to head to Starbucks to relax in the intervening 30 minutes.  Can I tell you the last time I've done anything like this?  DH stayed home to sleep in and watch the twins until I returned, so I knew I could have some time to relax.  I take my gift card and buy one of those protein meals (which are really good) and a skinny coffee, and sit down in a comfy chair to relax.  It's about 7:25, so I have 15 minutes. 

To the left of me are a group of four middle-aged "boys" (see above definition).  At first they are talking about God, and how He called families to have at least one parent at home with the kids, because the women who work are destroying America.  Yeah, 'cause there are no families out there with two working parents just to make ends meet.  Of course women work just 'cause they are trying to destroy American society!  Then one guy says, "I mean, I made a CHOICE to stay home with the nanny because I wanted my kids to have ONE parent at home.  I wanted my wife to do it,  but since she's an ATTORNEY she refused." 

...Uh...ummm...I'm sorry?  Did you say NANNY?  You stay at home with the NANNY?!?!?  Because your wife is an ATTORNEY and can afford to have you stay at home AND have a NANNY?!?  What the?????  I want a nanny!!  Can I stay at home with a nanny?  How the heck is that parenting?  And more importantly, how do you think that your wife got that high powered job?  Clearly women's lib is totally destroying this poor man's life! 

The conversation continues in this vein about how these men chose to stay at home with their nannies because this is God's mandate (which book of the Bible, exactly?).  Then one guy sniffs, looks around at the rest of the patrons (some men, some women), and says, "Perhaps if they'd stop buying these fancy lattes they would have the money to stay home."  Dude, you nailed it.  It's clearly the love of fancy lattes that is driving women's lib and destroying this country's morals.  Now, you just go back to your pastry (which is SO manly) and venti coffee drink (oh, wipe the whipped cream off your nose, sweetie), and please tell us what else is ailing this world...

These pasty, pudgy, combed-over middle-aged boys...what do you think they do all day?  Obviously they are home for their kids (oh, except for now, when they are at Starbucks piously invoking the Lord's name while bashing women and whining about how they are only allowed ONE Maserati...).  My DH thinks I'm being unfair.  Every man deserves a chance to sit around all day and watch all of those classic football games he's heard about but ever seen!  Not to mention, do you have any idea how difficult it is to work AND watch soap operas?  He does agree men should get behind women having very high powered, fancy jobs.  He's even offering to stay at home while I become a VP...he said he'll handle the nanny applications...I don't know...perhaps I'm wrong to judge. 

At this point my time is up and I have to pop back over to the school to watch C's play.  As I get up to go, one guy says, "Oh, hey, I have to be home by 9:00 today."  Another guy goes, "Yeah, I have to leave early, too."  So let me get this straight, you sit here for 90 minutes in the morning?  You poor things!!  I left these tragic, troubled souls munching sadly on their pastries as I headed out to spend 10 minutes fighting traffic to go less than a mile.  Oh, the humanity! 

On another note, I'd like to take a moment to say how lucky I am to have so amazing a husband!  He takes responsibility for himself and his family, he gives me time off to see my daughter's play, and he is a REAL MAN! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


We've all done this, right?  You and a number of family members and friends get an email from family member A.  This email is meant to inform you of a potential scam or theft, and is sent because family member A cares about you.  In this case, the email regards the possibility of cashiers at stores like Walmart stealing money by claiming you requested cash back, but not giving you the cash back.  You read the email, and say, "This looks like a hoax."  So you check and discover, yep, it's a hoax.  You love your family, and don't want them to have more anxiety than necessary in this crazy, mad world.  So you send out an email to let everyone know that fortunately in this case there's no need for concern.  In my case, the email sent out to my family and friends looked like this:

"FYI: This is impossible.  The only way you can get cash back is by inputting that request yourself.  Cashiers cannot initiate this - it's a safety.

Not that checking your receipts is a bad idea, or anything!"

Thinking you've now performed your public service, you go about your merry way.  But family member B reads this and lets you know that family member A's feelings might be hurt to have her email so publicly corrected.  You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, especially since both are doing this out of a sense of love.  So you send an apology.  But you can't just write ANYTHING.  You have to be careful.  You can't offend the offended family member by flippantly apologizing, or writing anything that could look flippant, because you are sincere in your desire not to you carefully craft an apology to let everyone know that you really don't want to upset anyone.  Mine looked like this:

"My apologies to all if the initial email response I sent sounded rude or curt.  I assure you I did not mean to be so.  I know that there are so many concerns about theft, and I was trying to reassure everyone that this is a scam.  I don't get to spend much time online these days, so I spend my evenings trying to shoot through my emails as fast as possible.  If I offended anyone with my words, please forgive me.  Chasing after three kids kind of crimps my internet time!  Much love to you all!"

In most normal worlds, this is the end of it, right?  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Have you MET us?  Here in follows the email conversation.  Names have been changed to protect the (somewhat) innocent:

First reply (from someone who lives in my house and is the only person of the opposite gender in my house) we'll call Guy 1:
"I would like to apologize if anyone thought I was upset at Colleen's original email.
I also apologize for leaving my socks on the living room floor.
I feel better now.
Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?"

Next reply from another person we'll call Guy I've known all my life: 
"Well I apologize for getting upset, I was thinking this would be the perfect way for me to transition into retirement by working at Wal-Mart as a cashier and being able to generate enough tax free income to truly retire.  Darn another perfectly good plan down the tube socks."

Next reply from another recipient we'll call Winner of Best response: 
"Well!  What a fire-storm!  I was offended by all of you.  Don't send me any more of these e-mails, ever and I mean ever.  My time is much too precious to be spending it reading all these emails.   And now I'm worried about every transaction I make at every store I go to and I'm under so much pressure from these warnings and you know, there are other things out there to be afraid of.  Like spiders and snakes.  and ...what are those little bugs that have those pinchers...they look like small lobsters...yes, stay away from them too!

So glad to be included in this nonsense.  Love y'all"

Last reply from person we'll call Guy I've known all HIS life: 
"The person responsible for sacking the person who has offended the group has been sacked.  Thank you.

--Management" what?  After laughing your butt off, what do you do?  I mean, you really didn't mean to offend any family members (and the good news is for the record no one was offended - this has become a fun family joke).  But at the same time...I mean, did you READ the email thread?  So here's where I decided to go in the end: 
"AAAAAAAAUGH!!  There are insects with little pinchers out there stealing my money from Walmart and stuffing it down people's tube socks?!?  I can't deal with all of this - no more emails!  
To [Winner of Best response]: YOU are hilarious!  Thank goodness you've been fired!"  
Oh your family and friends are NUTS but you love them!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

People can really be amazing...

Today I went to the grocery store with my girls.  It was one of those days that reminds you that people can just be amazing...and not in the good sense.  No worries, I'm still a believer in the goodness of humankind.  But it's one of those days that leaves you shaking your head and thinking, "Just how fast can I get home?..."

I went to the Publix by my house.  It's our "home" grocery store.  Everyone in there knows us (and if you read my "plumber" article, you know they may know more of me than I wish...).  The produce manager regularly comes out with sliced produce for the girls.  The sample lady always gives me a little plate to feed the girls.  The pharmacist and her assistants are always so excited to see us - unless we're picking up antibiotics or something, and then they are always very kind and sympathetic.  It's our favorite store. 

I'm sure it will come as a great shock to learn I'm a creature of habit (please, I'll wait until you can breathe again...)  I always pull into the same row and then back down the next row to park in pretty much the same area.  Today, as I'm pulling into the first row, this lady just suddenly shoots backwards with no warning.  It's not her fault, she can't see me.  However, today I've got this jerk on my tail who simply has to get... SOMETHING from the store RIGHT NOW!!!  So I nearly get rear-ended.  The lovely person behind me starts blowing on his horn.  The lady in front of me (who's got a couple decades on me) freezes.  She doesn't pull into her space.  She doesn't continue backing up.  Her hands alternate between flying up to her face and back to her wheel.  Jerk continues honking.  Lady in front starts CRYING.  My girls start CRYING.  Oh crap, this shopping trip has dissolved before it began...then the lady looks at me.  RIGHT AT ME.  She flips me off.  Seriously?  I'm trying to be patient with two crying girls in the car, and you are going to flip ME off?  Then she finishes backing out and leaves.  You can already tell what a good trip this is going to be, huh? 

I pull around to my usual spot.  The guy takes her spot.  Of course, HIS tag doesn't have a handicapped sticker on it, but why should HE be held to the rules the rest of us must follow?  After all, we are but sheep, and he's...OK, moving on.  So we walk into the store.  Just as we walk into the first set of double doors, a lady and her child walk through the store double doors, so we're facing each other.  The woman has one child, probably around three, and I have the twins.  There's one double shopping care know, the kinds that's designed like a race car with the little steering wheels.  As any mom with two kids of same or similar age knows, you take the double cart when you have more than one child because it's the ONLY cart that fits MORE THAN ONE CHILD.  And how many does she have?  (No peeking, you should have been paying attention!  Bad reader!).  So I say, "Do you mind if I grab the double there?  I can't fit both twins and my groceries into a regular cart."  She looks me up and down and says, "Yeah, I do, I've got stuff to do, and I don't need her fussing."  She grabs the cart and walks off.  Uh...OK, yeah, see, this is a physics problem, and two objects of mass cannot occupy the same space at the same time...

So we head back out so I can scour the parking lot for a potential cart.  I know there's a lot of people there, but I've never come when there wasn't at least ONE cart I could use.  There!  In the back left...WA-A-A-AY in the back left...Eureeka!  I heft one girl on each arm and bust my butt to get out there.  Gasping and wheezing, I shovel each girl into her seat.  Good lord, are they using this parking lot for a football field in their spare time?  I swear it got longer with every step!  What am I feeding these girls?  I digress...

We rumble back into the grocery store.  At least the noise and vibration of the cart going over the asphalt never fails to make them smile!  Now we're in a better mood (I need a shower) and ready to shop.  We head over to the pharmacy to get our prescriptions (and ego boosts).  "All better," as the girls would say!  The shopping goes about like normal.  About 2/3 of the way through, the girls are alternating saying, "All done, Mommy?  All done?  ALL DONE?!?"  Finally, I can say, "YES!  We're all done.  Let's go pay." 

So I get into a ridiculously long line behind these two moms.  Each mom has a child...why, yes, one looks just like...oh, say hello to my lovely friend from the cart incident!  We'll call her Cart-Grabber for short.  So she and the mom in front of her are having a "mompetition."  You know - one of those "conversations" that's really a one-upsmanshp for "My mommy-ing if far superior to your mommy-ing."  So I'm listening (and snickering).  Here's a summary of the transcript:

Unknown mommy (using "I'm being so kind to explain this to a total simpleton voice"): First you need to wash the fruit, then you cut it in half.  But you don't want to transfer the pesticides all throughout the fruit, so you discard THAT knife and get another one to finish cutting the fruit into pieces.  (My thought: I'm sorry, exactly how did you NOT transfer pesticides in the first cut?....)
Cart-Grabber (using her "You are a total moron but I'll suffer through this to show that I can bestow charity on the less fortunate" voice): Oh, well, I suppose that's well and good, but if you use a fruit wash to take the pesticides off in the first place, you've solved the problem.  (My thought: With a mom like you, I think pesticides are the least of the problem...)
Unknown: Yes, but only if you aren't worried about the fats and sugars the wash transfers to the fruit.  I wouldn't want my little sweetie gaining weight!  (My thought: ?!?!?!?  Have you ever read the label?!?)
Cart-Grabber (Sensing blood): My child won't be gaining weight, because I monitor her fat intake VERY carefully.  (No wonder that woman is such a ______ - give her a chocolate bar, stat!  The kid, too.  The kid is what, three?  And a certain amount of fat is needed for normal bodily functions!)
Unknown (triumphantly, as she's about to trounce the mompetition): Well, since we're vegetarians, we don't have to worry about anything like that!  ('Cause there's no meat-eater in the world who could be healthy!  You know, like all of those meat-eating Olympians...clearly riddled with unhealth!) 

(Side note: I'm not making fun of vegetarians at all, just this charmer.  You all have the right to decide what you eat, just like me.  Now pass me a cheeseburger and no one gets hurt!)

At this point, both children begin to whine.  Unknown and Cart-Grabber reach into their diaper bags and pull out drinks and snacks.  I'd like to say before we go any further I am NOT making this up!!  Unknown gives her kid a water.  Child throws water on floor.  Unknown says, "What do you want, sweetie?"  Sweetie wails.  Unknown reaches back into bag and pulls out one of those little blue drinks in a barrel.  You know, the ones FULL of SUGAR?!?  She puts it into a sippy cup and Sweetie begins sipping happily.  Meanwhile, Cart-Grabber pulls out (again, I SWEAR this is the truth) a half-full diet coke, pours some into a sippy, and hands it to Little Darling.  She also gives her a package of those 100 calorie cookies?!?  Let me get this straight, you monitor fat, but NOT sugar?!?  And I'm not vegetarian, so I don't know if those little barrel drinks would fit in that type of regimen, but again...IT'S ALL SUGAR!!!!  There's NOTHING redeeming about those.  You give them to your child at a birthday party, or a special occasion, not in PUBLIX because you're stuck in LINE!  You do understand what happens to sugar in your body when you eat too much, right? 

Unknown begins checking out.  Cart-Grabber turns around and sees me.  She gives me a superior smile and says, "Can you believe that woman?  As if vegetarians don't have to worry about fat!"  Then she looks my girls up and down and says, "You might want to consider monitoring your children's food intake."  I just shook my head and began scolding the twins who were a little too close to the flowers at this point and wanted to "pick some for mommy"...(admirable thought, ladies, but not in the budget).  Yes, I'm so glad you are monitoring their pesticide intake, ladies.  That way they can live a very long life treating their TYPE-II DIABETES or other sugar-related illness!!!

Oh yes, people can really be amazing!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My next career: plumber?

OK, parents, we've all done it.  You aren't sure if your kid needs a diaper change, but you want to check.  So what do you do?  Grab the back of the diaper and the waist band of the pants, pull it out slightly, and see what's there...

Lately grocery shopping has become REALLY challenging with the twins.  Well, frankly, they are 2, so EVERYTHING has become challenging.  The girls refuse to ride in the cart.  No, no, they want to PUSH the cart.  It's actually pretty funny.  They are strong enough, especially together, that they can even get the carts moving in Costco, and those are some HEAVY carts.  The problem is steering.  When you can't see over the top of the cart, it's kind of hard to know where you are going. 

Here's how we make it work.  I put each girl in her backpack (Mastermind Monkey [B] and the Squealing Pig [A]).  I put one on my left and one on my right, and I push from the middle.  Actually, I mostly just steer.  Well, if they are going to insist on pushing, who am I to deny them the chance to exhaust themselves?  It works pretty well until they decide they need to switch places.  That's kind of an ordeal involving the detangling of leashes.  But it works pretty well. 

Incidentally, as I've mentioned before, we are PRETTY well known in the grocery stores around here.  When we come in, we're watched constantly.  Not for fear of shoplifting (see the Walmart story), but because they really are some serious cuties.  It's not unusual for me to turn around and find an employee standing behind us, or near us, just watching the twins.  Everyone is very nice, and after two years I'm used to it, so I never think much of it. 

So we're shopping, and mommy needs something from the bottom of the shelf.  So I tell the girls, "DO NOT let go of the cart," crouch down, and proceed to get the item.  Suddenly, I feel four little hands on the waist line of my pants.  "Change diaper?" two little voices chirp.  OH CRAP!  I nearly moon some poor Publix stocker who is standing behind us.  And these were my high-waisted jeans.  I attempt to stand up and simultaneously whip around so as not to offend said employee.  I move so fast that their little hands get caught in my waist band.  Their little feet fly out in a circle and we succeed in knocking nearly every can off of the shelf.  Fortunately these are really good jeans, as the fabric did NOT rip under the duress.  Meanwhile, I check out the employee.  He's howling.  I mean seriously, the poor guy can't breath!

He sends me off, assuring me that he can get this all cleaned up.  I've probably just made this guy's day, when you think about it.  NO, not because of the view.  Well, perhaps the view of two little girls flying in a half circle...and I'm sure my face was a picture.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure this trip is over.  So I go up to the front.  I'm standing in line for this guy who is normally very taciturn, but an excellent cashier.  Apparently today is no exception.  My items are rung up and bagged.  I am waiting for my transaction to go through.  He's totally silent, like usual.  I reach out for my receipt, and he looks me straight in the eye, and says, "Crack kills, ma'am." 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Long, long ago in a vacation setting far, far away...

So my DH has had a chance to check out my blog, and has discovered (much to his disappointment), that the story of our engagement is not on here.  It's actually something I've always meant to write about, but what can I say?  Life gets in the way.  So in the interest of marital bliss (or just to stop the whining...I love you, honey!)

So we decide to go on this trip to Maine when in July.  We plan on landing the day before my 25th birthday and staying for about a week or so.  Unbeknownst to me, Alan had already gone to my parents before this and asked for my hand in marriage.  Apparently, my father very calmly responded, "Don't you want the rest of her, too?"  Yeah, that's my he's got this plan.  Which, in my time of knowing him is very unusual.  If it's not a hockey game, Alan's concept of being on time is...well...he's here, isn't he?  Is "punctuality" really that important (hey, you wanted me tell this, didn't you, honey?).  No, seriously, he gets to work on time, but he's not what I'd call "scheduled," or "anal-retentive."  Thank goodness.  It would never work with two of us.

We land in Portland, spend the evening touring Old Port (guess which part of the city was built first!), and have a nice evening.  I guess I should backtrack here and mention quickly that I learned an important lesson: no matter how airsick you think you could be, TWO Dramamines is one too that was after we spent an afternoon where we apparently got to our hotel, checked in, and he bounced off the walls while I slept for four hours...

The next day we're off on our trip to the camp.  Let me explain.  In the South, we call that cute little house on a lake a "cabin."  In Maine it's a Camp.  Don't screw that up.  No, I'm serious - don't screw that up.  You may very well lose your ability to convert oxygen if you do.  It's a CAMP.  We're going up via the coast so we can check out this little fort that was built during the Civil War and reinforced during WWII.  Apparently Maine was convinced that if the Germans were going to attack the U.S., they would start with a real hot-bed of political importance like...Maine.  Yes, that's where I'd head.  Who cares about DC?  Our nation's shipping ports?  Factories and shipyards?  Nope, Maine first!  We had fun, then we're off to our next destination: Two Lights lighthouses.  We get there, but suddenly he informs me we don't have much time, and we really need to get moving...uh...I'm sorry...who are you again?  I rush through checking out the lighthouses (I like lighthouses - get over it), and say I'm ready to leave.  "We've got more time," he says, "You can look around some more." said...uh...OK.  We enjoy our suddenly expansive time at the lighthouses, then we head out.  Now we're suddenly BEHIND schedule.  The entire day.  Dr. Mr. Hyde.  But finally, we're getting up to the camp when we reach the "Height of Land."

The "Height of Land" is an overlook off either hwy 17 or hwy 27 that his family really loves.  You get to see Rangely Lake spread all below you, surrounded by trees and mountains.  It's really lovely.  We get there, and he's now acting REALLY weird.  He's alternating between giddiness and complete silence.  Really.  Who is this guy?  We get there at sunset, too, which is going to be SO lovely.  We step up the railing, look below, and see...clouds...lots and lots and LOTS of clouds.  No lake.  No trees.  No mountains, just clouds.  Apparently we were up ABOVE a low-hanging bank of clouds that came in (no, we're up that high - it ain't fog.)  He's going, "But it's sunset.  We're here at SUNSET!  I got us here at SUNSET!  What the *&^%?!?!?!?!?!"  I'm worried.  I've never seen my normally sweet-tempered boyfriend lose it.  I'm not sure what to do.  "Yes, dear, but they are the nicest clouds of any clouds anywhere?"  No...not good...

So we get back in the car, and we head to Rangely, which is the little town right next to the even tinier town in which the CAMP is located.  A note about small towns: there's only one place routinely open after 6pm - the bar.  So here we are on my birthday, I'm traveling with a world-class weirdo, and we're headed for the bar.  For my birthday.  'Cause I'm such a raging drinker.  We get there and I have something that approximates meat?  I don't know.  But now he's in high spirits again.  He's eating and telling me to relax and take my time.  Oh yes, this is just where I want to relax and take my time...we head on from there to the tinier town where the CAMP is located called Oquossoc.  It has a restaurant, a convenience store, more CAMPS, a local farmers market, a kayak rental, and an antique-kitschy type store.  Did you sneeze?  Sorry, you missed it.  We get to the CAMP in darkness, so I have no idea what this looks like.  To be honest, I just want to go to bed.  I'm kind of cranky.  My birthday has just been weird!  We get inside and he says, "Let's make a fire."  Good idea.  When the sun goes down in Maine it drops 40 degrees instantly.

They have a camp stove in the camp which has a flue you have to open.  I'm a former Girl Scout.  He's the guy who has spent many a summer at the camp.  Surely we can manage a fire, right?  Oh no...some flues open when you push the lever to the right.  Some when you push the lever to the left.  This one?  In the middle.  How did we find out?  We smoke out the ENTIRE CAMP.  Tears are streaming out of my eyes.  I can't breath.  For my birthday, I'm going to hack up a lung.  I turn around...and he's standing there with a box and he says, "I give up.  This just isn't working anymore."  That's when he proposes.  Poor guy.  He had all these plans, and nothing was working out.  I think he was afraid that if he didn't propose right then, I might suddenly take the car and run.

I said yes BEFORE he gave me the ring, but the ring sealed it.  I knew he was the only man for me.  He asked me months before what was the perfect engagement ring.  I said a claddagh, because it symbolizes love, loyalty, and friendship.  However, after I told him this, I realized that the stone would be inset, and I really loved the idea of the more traditional ring with the stone on top.  But at the same time, the claddagh was so perfect on so many levels...well, he couldn't find a claddagh with a diamond.  Turns out I was a trend-setter - they are everywhere today.  So he got D Geller to order a white gold claddagh and place a diamond setting on top.  So I had the best of both worlds!  It was EXACTLY what I wanted.

That's pretty much it, although I'll save the story about the day AFTER my birthday for another time.  We cleared out the smoke, his sister came, we called family and friends (turns out we were roaming which was ridiculously expensive, but that's another matter).  The only thing that I could have shot him for is that my mom told him to get a picture right after he proposed.  What does he do?  He grabs the video camera.  So we have this short video of me with EXTREMELY red eyes and messy hair snuffling, him saying, "What do you have?" and me saying, *sniff* *sniff* "I have a-a ri-ing..."  Oh, it's attractive alright.  But I love him so much.

So there you go.  And I will add, that had there NOT been clouds at the "Height of Land," it would have been a wonderful spot for a proposal.  But all in all, not nearly as funny.  I pick on him a lot, but honestly, he's a good guy.  I love him.  But don't tell.  I don't want to ruin it ;-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Welcome to the Southern North Pole, Y'all!

Posted on Facebook on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 1:11am
So I thought I'd take a moment to record the momentous occurence here in Georgia that is likely to be known as "The Blizzard of '11."  It will probably go down with the Blizzards of '87 and '93.  In fact, the Blizzard of '87 is where we learned that while those of us from the North probably CAN drive in the snow and ice, Southerners stay inside for a reason...

So today we decided to go outside.  We had a choice of going out the front door into an 18" drift, or...well, no, the back door was frozen shut and had a 12" drift behind it.  OK, so there was the garage, but where was the fun in that.  So we bundled up C and Daddy into their winter gear - yes, we actually have ski pants, ski gloves, jackets, hats, and scarves just for the off-chance we might have one of these weeks.  We bundled the twins up in their winter gear, which is to say, we layered on half of their wardrobe because we don't have winter gear for them.  This includes tiny gloves for each girl.  B found them very interesting.  A was NOT amused...

We go outside.  C decides to step over the snow drift on the front porch...that doesn't really work, so she decides to back up all two feet from the drift to take a running leap OVER the drift...and finds out that a face full of snow doesn't really feel that great.  She makes it over, and now it's time to haul two protesting teeny toddlers out the door.  They were not happy campers.  I set them down in a spot thoughtfully cleared by Daddy...with his butt...isn't he a wonderful (albeit very bruised) Daddy?

And they're off!!  C and Daddy took the sleds (they are really scraps of plastic with a very slick coating on one side) to the street (where it was icy but not as snowy) and prepared to rocket to the bottom.  OK, any moment now...we're gonna move...try laying on your belly, C...or don't...hey, what would Mommy know...I am informed by both parties that these sleds are clearly broken.  "OK, give it to me," sighs Mommy.  Remember how I mentioned there is a slick coating on one side?  I realize it might be rocket science, but THAT is the side you put on the ICE.  My Northern upbringing must be showing...So Mommy sits bottom on the sled, grabs both handles...and shoots down the hill like she's taking the flag at Nascar!  Unfortunately, sleds don't turn as well, and Mommy ends up rolling off the sled at the bottom of the hill...I meant to do that...

So I make it back up the hill to where my astonished daughter and DH stand slack-jawed, and notice that A has decided this is all very well and good, but there is a perfectly DRY, WARM house where she could remove two-thirds of her clothing and be playing.  B, on the other hand, is determined to learn more about this white wintery world...until she walks face first into a B-sized drift.  At that point, both girls begin to howl in terror.  So I drag those two back inside and leave C and Daddy to the wonders of a snowy playground.  They stay outside for another 30 minutes, which is just enough time for Mommy to peel layers off of the twins, hang everything out to dry, change diapers and clothing, clean noses, and wipe all of the water off of the hallway flooring.  Daddy walks in and says, "Now that's you've had a rest, what about lunch?" as he drips all over the freshly cleaned floor...

So with great forebearance, Mommy makes lunch, and sends all of the girls off for a nap.  I work out with my Wii (oh hello muscles...owowowowowow), Daddy returns to working from home, and all is well in the Surette house.  Tomorrow is supposed to bring a brief thaw from about noon to sun-down, and then it's below freezing until Friday.  It's gonna be interesting!

Days 2 - 4 of the Georgia Snowpocalypse!

Posted on Facebook on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 4:13pm
Since so many enjoyed our recap of Day 1, I thought we'd continue the Saga of the Surette Snowpocalypse Survival:

Day 2: Today we're sledding down the hill on the left side of the backyard (left if you are standing on the back porch contemplating the situation...)  The roads are slushy, but due to the sleet and freeze the snow has a good film of ice on it.  So C tried to go down the natural slope, only to discover that in reality, the ice had a totally different idea.  "Mom!" she says, "Come sled!"  So out goes Mommy sucked into her ski bib, jacket, good snow gloves, scarf, hat, hood, hiking boots, and sixteen different layers beneath.  Oh my word!  Sledding is AWESOME!  And guess what - that blubber comes in handy again!  I shoot down that hill like I'm heading for the checkered flag at Nascar (very fast, northerners, and one of the few straight-aways)!  I managed to stop by putting my hands out and digging into the snow just before slamming face-first into the small stand of trees behind our house.

So C and I are having fun, taking turns, but she decides taking turns is boring.  So just as I'm about to go down for the fourth or fifth time, she leaps onto my back, and away we go!  Turns out, the best sled in the house is...mommy!!  We went down and up and down and up for at least an hour!  I'm exhausted and sore, but it was so much fun!!!  Right now (6pm) DH and C are outside trying to sled (ha!  Skinny people sledding), the babies are waking up from a nap, and I'm off to cook dinner!

Days 3 & 4: I apologize for no update for yesterday, but I have good reasons.  For one thing, our resident techie can't get his desktop computer to talk with his work network.  In fact, the only computer that will talk with the network is MY laptop, and he's been on nearly non-stop since Tuesday evening...I love my hubby, I do, but I must admit, having him return to work today was kind of nice...VERY nice...Every day Mommy needs some time to herself.  She needs to think, relax, breath, pretend she's not going slowly insane...

Yesterday the human sled was too tired and sore to go outside and play, so C played on her own.  She was warned to go to the bathroom before getting dressed, got all of her clothing on, and then a small voice said, "I have to go to the bathroom..."  That was a close one!  She went outside and played on the ice-crusted snow, which consisted of walking three steps, falling face first, and then rolling around a while.  She was soaked when she came in!  She spent over an hour doing this!  She comes inside, strips off bib suit, jacket, gloves, boots, scarf, hat, one pair of pants, two pairs of socks, sweatshirt, and shirt.  She's standing in her undershirt, one pair of pants, and bottom layer of socks, and she says, "I thought it would be warmer in here."  Hmmmmm.....

The babies, meanwhile, are not pleased with conditions.  Last week I had started trying to train them to walk to the bus stop to get C.  I have these little leashes attached to soft, plush backpacks.  A monkey for B, and Piglet for A.  They are incredibly apropos, I promise you.  The girls LOVE their backpacks, and in fact will carry them to me, DH, or C and thrust them into our faces, babbling until we put them on their backs.  They reach over their shoulders to grab the face of the animal and hug it constantly.  So we go down to C's bus stop, two babies going in opposite directions and Mommy attempting to herd them.  It's like herding cats, but with less scratching.  Everyone slows down to watch this site, smiling, waving, laughing, and honking their horns, which causes the babies to fall over.  Fortunately their little butts are incredibly padded, and they are quite adept at picking themselves up.  Any wonder I allot at least 10 minutes to go 2/10 of a mile?  On the weekends we go out as a family, Mommy with one leash, Daddy with the other, and Big'ster as bait for the chase.

So I mention all of this to explain that the babies are REALLY unhappy with being cooped up inside.  So today I decide to take them out for a walk.  I know there is snow and ice, but between two fussy babies and a chatterbox Kindergartener who has been out all week (and will not return to school until Tuesday), we NEED out.  So on goes the winter accoutrements, which only adds to the stress as it takes 15 minutes per person, on go the backpacks, and out go the fall on their butts, sliding off of the front step, down the little walkway, and half way down the driveway...and back inside go two yowling toddlers,one overly-excited nearly 6 year-old, and a very desperate Mommy.  We peeled everything off and ate lunch.  When we finished, the babies began saying, "Ni-ni! Ni-ni! Ni-ni!" repeatedly.  Apparently they were very ready for that nap!

So we sit here, C doing "homework" and Mommy finally getting to use her laptop.  It's the simple things...Soon C will go for her afternoon rest, and Mommy will clean, because it's what she lives to do *sigh*.  Daddy hopefully will be able to make it back DOWN the hill.  The county said they were going to sand our ONE AND ONLY neighborhood entrance/exit road on Wednesday morning...and we're still waiting...we'll wait until Hell freezes...oh...uh-oh...

Day 5 of the Snowpocalypse...the end is near?

Posted on Facebook on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 1:08am
Day 5 of the Surette Survival of the Southern Snowpocalypse is coming to a close, and we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel...rather, the street at the bottom of the ice.  Mommy is still uneasy about driving, as our one and only exit/entrance still has a great deal of ice.  While others have made it in and out, given my track record, I feel a bit like a wreck-magnet driving in conditions like this.  I'm already pretty certain I have a bulls-eye on my bumper.  Let's not tempt fate any further...

That said, GET ME OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!!!  Do you realize that for five days, the entire family was home, then for three days it will be Mommy and the girls, then one day of everyone, then one day of Mommy and the girls?  What does that mean?  Heh heh...look, is that a cute fluffy unicorn bouncing towards me?  Oh, it's giving me a hug!  What a pretty white jacket they make me wear...those walls are nicely padded, and look how easy they are to clean!  Do they make couches out of that stuff???

So I decided to take the girls for a walk today.  C has been so good, but this enforced imprisonment has been wearing on her, too.  Today the snow was turning to slush, and sledding was not a possibility.  Mommy suggested the concept of building with snow, but this was greeted with the sardonic, "I'm five going on fifteen" look that I thought only came from teenagers.  How offensive!  Snow is for sledding!  Apparently only losers build stuff with it...just saying...there goes the entire Inuit culture...

So I look outside, see snow, and think, "It's still freezing."  But the sidewalks are largely clear, so I decide to go for it!  Mommy begins by changing diapers and asking C to put on her coat, mittens, hat, scarf, and boots...which turns into Mommy informing her eldest in no uncertain terms that her very survival depends on these items being put on with great alacrity.  Meanwhile, babies diapered, Mommy begins the time-consuming process of dressing each child.  B is pretty easy, and puts on her snow suit happily, seeing that her Monkey backpack has been removed from the hook.  In fact, she's fairly giddy as we're dressing, and even is willing to put her hands out for the fun and exciting gloves Mommy wants her to wear.  A, on the other hand, is NOT AMUSED.  First a jacket, then boots, then...HOW DARE SHE COVER MY HANDS!!!  You can put that back pack on, but A will NEVER forget this slight!  GLOVES?!?  An OUTRAGE!  By this time Mommy is breaking land-speed records dashing for her boots, yelling at C PUT THOSE BOOTS AND GLOVES ON NOW OR SO HELP ME!!!!!!!!

I rush back in the room, mentally congratulating myself on taking no more than 4.5 seconds to put on my hiking discover it was 3 seconds too many.  B has ripped off the gloves (and is ironically crying because she cannot get them back on).  A is crying because she cannot get the gloves OFF!  C has decided to take her coat off, because it's too hot to wait for Mommy...with some not-so-stifled oaths, all children are appropriately outfitted, and we head out the discover B is missing a boot.  Seriously?  Where the heck is this thing?!?  Ok, all dressed and ready to...oh, uh, coat for Mommy, yeah, very useful...

The first hurdle is the front step.  The babies are looking up at the water dripping from some menacing looking icicle hanging over their heads...and promptly slide on the ice, fall of the front step, and land face first into the slush that passes for snow on the front lawn.  Ah yes, and auspicious start.  Mommy ruthlessly yanks them up by their leashes, because by GOD we are getting OUT OF THIS HOUSE!  Fortunately pacifiers, hugs, and C falling on her rump bring smiles once more, and we're off!  Down the sidewalk we go!  And four houses down, we find ourselves forced to turn back thanks to the neighbor who shoveled off his driveway into a big pile...onto the sidewalk...I believe that is what is known as an Epic fail...

We go back up the hill, pass our house ("Mommy, turn, wait...Mommy!!!") and go up a few more houses until we reach an ice slick that puts me in mind of those icebergs you see Polar bears lounging about on the Discovery channel.  Back into the house we go.  Not to bad, until B lands face-first on the driveway.  No ice, no snow, just toddler lack of balance.  This caps the adventure, and into the house we go.  While Mommy struggles to peel off the baby layers, C bounces around like a demented flea, demanding to know what she can do next.  Fortunately I am equipped for such situations.  As a teacher, I have many "looks."  I give her the, "Oh, I'll find something for you to do" look, and she disappears into her room to play with her dolls.

The babies napped, C discovered that with all the toys she owns, at least one is worth her time, and Mommy worked out on the Wii.  Was it worth it?  The Jury is still out at this time...

Grab a hanky

Posted on Facebook on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 8:45pm
Tonight I went with C to play bingo and eat pizza.  In a five-year-old's world, this is about as exciting as you can possibly imagine.  She was so thrilled to get to go.  I had a feeling we wouldn't win at bingo.  Let's face it, nine games and 150 people playing...the odds aren't exactly in our favor.  But I bought a bag of M&Ms, so no matter what happened, C would feel she came out ahead.  Before the game started, the PTA president went up to whisper into the microphone about some PTA business.  Despite numerous requests to speak up, she continued to speak only to the people at the front table...apparently a resolution of some sort passed that involved $22K?  Oh well, things moved along.  We had a great time, snuggling, learning how to use the dabber, talking to the families around us, and generally enjoying life.  We scoured the cards, hoping for the number, and rejoicing each time we found one.  We came close, but we never managed to win.  Each time C clapped for the lucky winner (even though the sour people around us refused).  C just kept saying, "All that matter is we're here having fun!"

At the end, the children were asked to line up at the base of the stage.  The PTA VP said, "Every child who came tonight will get a prize if they cluster around the steps to the stage.  C and several other small children were at the side of the stage.  The bigger children (read middle school) clustered in the middle.  The parents began tossing candy and spirit wear out to the middle of the crowd, totally ignoring the sides.  The large kids in the middle jumped and knocked into the other kids, knocking them over.  C was thrown to the ground, which was rather horrifying to watch as I was on the other side of the cafeteria.  She picked herself up, hurt but unbroken.  One of the parents throwing items noticed the skirmish on the side, looked straight at C and the little boy beside her, and tossed a couple of pieces of candy to them.  The big kids on their left again shoved them over and greedily grabbed the candy.  By the time C and the little boy next to her picked herself up, there was nothing left.  The parent on the stage just looked at them and shrugged.

I know they are kids, and I know this is normal for kids, although it seemed a bit brutish.  I wouldn't have minded if C hadn't gotten anything had the woman not clearly made the announcement about all kids getting a treat.  Poor C got nothing except a bruise.  She came back to me, chin quivering, but determined to put on a brave face.  "Mommy," she said, "I'm not going to cry.  It's been a good Friday.  I am disappointed I didn't get anything, but it's OK."  I thought, "Please don't look at me, because I'M going to cry."  I can't help it.  She's five.  She deserves SOMETHING after that pronouncement!  She looked into my face, stuffed her fingers in her mouth, and wailed, "They wouldn't even look at me!  I tried so hard, I stood on the side and waited my turn, but they ignored me."  I am embarrassed to say I lost it myself for a moment.  Her disappointment and misery was just too much for me.  It's not the candy.  I can buy her candy.  She is taught to use her manners, to wait her turn, to behave and share, and then when she demonstrates her manners, she's stiffed because this time mob mentality and might are rewarded.  Don't get me wrong - I think kids have to learn difficult lessons, and we had a great talk on the way home about how sometimes you may not get a reward, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't practice your best manners at all time.  But to be knocked about and trampled by older kids...ignored by those giving be left out is really painful.

The positive to this story is that as she sobbed on my shoulder, kids suddenly materialized all around her offering a piece of starburst candy or a lollipop.  She accepted a few pieces, thanking each child.  Then she started directing children to the little boy at the end of the table who also didn't get anything.  Other kids around suddenly began checking with each other: "Did you get anything?  Here, I got two pieces..." etc.  I have to admit, I was nearly undone again.  Darned hormones!

Kids have to learn that things don't always go their way.  There is an appropriate time for each type of behavior.  I also believe you shouldn't knock over or beat up other kids, especially smaller kids.  I'm not a helicopter parent.  But still, watching my child in that surging and trampling mob was upsetting!  Maybe it's just something parents have to get used to, but I sure do not want to see that again!  But I am gratified to see the generous spirit of some of those children.  Shows they have good parents!  Makes you wonder where the kids of those PTA parents were...

And the Oscar goes to...

Posted on Facebook on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 12:21am
My eldest, C, is an impressive child.  She is intelligent, sweet, and has the ability to turn on the waterworks like a Hollywood actress!  Today was a prime example.  We went to the North Georgia Outlet Mall to combine a need to shop with a desire to be outdoors.  We had a lovely time letting the twins run around on their leashes while C played on the play ground.  We did some shopping, then had dinner at the food court.  The twins were a little difficult seeing as how they didn't really get their nap, but a little food and drink, and they calmed right down.  Afterwards we walked back to the car, C dancing and twirling happily.

We get back to the car, load everyone up, and C promptly falls asleep.  About halfway home, though, she awakes to a most startling and devastating discovery: she is bleeding on her arm.  "Mommy!" she shrieks, startling the daylights out of me and my husband, "I'm bleeding!  I'm bleeeeeding!  There is BLOOD on my ARM!"  Then she proceeds to emit a series of wails that would cause bansidhes to run for cover.  I tell her, "Honey, just cover it with your hand, press down, and we'll check it out when we get home."  She continues to wail, interjecting exclamations of despair.  "Mommy, I'm going to bleed EVERYWHERE!" 

I nearly had DH pull over just so I could check this.  I have to admit, I'm getting worried, despite my knowledge of her penchant for drama.  We get home, and she rushes out of the back seat, tripping over every bag we had back there, falls out of the car onto one knee, and drags my door open, begging me to check her arm.  I'm trying to remain calm, but I see a bit of red on her hand, and I'm starting to wonder if this is the one time I SHOULD have taken her seriously.  Beginning to truly doubt my status as a worthy mother, I pull her into the house, turn on the overhead light, and remove her hand.  In the back of my mind, it hits me that she's going to bleed on the carpet, which is going to be murder to get out.  I peer closely at the wound...a small smear of red on the back of her know, it kind of smells like...I lick it, to the further horror of my daughter.  "Sweetie," I say, trying very hard to remain calm, "Did you wash your hands after you ate the pizza?"

...Peace reigned throughout the land...

The Question is: What title do I earn?

Posted on Facebook on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 5:28pm
Today is C's birthday, and the "only thing" she wanted for her birthday was for me to bring her Chik-Fil-A for lunch at school.  Notice I used quotes there.  If there is one thing I have heard about 72 times in the past month is the "only thing I want is..." Amazingling enough, if you add up all of her "only things," somehow you get an answer greater than one...But anyways, she really wanted me to come to lunch.  Now I haven't made it in for lunch YET, so I felt like I really owed it to her.  What can I say?  I can't imagine what keeps me busy all day...I guess it's all the bon-bons I'm eating...

So I was up late last night tagging for a consignment sale coming up, but I was determined to get up on time.  I dragged my butt out of bed and got dressed, then I went to get the twins up.  Yes, before you inhale in shock, I was bringing the twins.  My mother had the audacity to schedule a hair appointment without reading my mind (I know, what is she thinking having her own life?!?).  My DH couldn't take the time off of work.  His lame excuse?  "I might get in trouble at work." So it's up to me and the girls to handle this "only thing."  The twins got up and got moving relatively quickly (for snails, I guess), and we got out the door on time.  One problem: rain.

I'm not talking a sweet little April shower on May flowers sort of thing.  I'm talking, "Where's Noah and his Ark when you neeed him?"  Here is the disadvantage with twins: if you need to run to the car with a child, you have to do it twice.  You have to stand hanging half out of the door getting rained on twice as long with a singleton.  So just getting them in the car I was DRENCHED.  But I'm determined to handle this "only thing."  We drove to Chik-Fil-A.  As we got closer, the rain and wind came harder, and I started to wonder if monsoons could happen in Georgia.  I inch down the road to find that there is a six car wreck taking up two out of four lanes.  I planned 25 minutes to get 2.7 miles down the road and get CFA.  Seriously?  I've done it in less than 10.  But of course, this morning, I'm no longer pleasing a child, I'm embarking on a major quest!

Finally I get to CFA!  I did it!  I made it!  I still have to order, get the food, get to the school, get the kids inside, find her class in the lunchroom...hey, it's the small victories in life, right?  So I order.  By now the rain is coming SIDEWAYS.  I'm under the cover, but the rain is coming IN my window.  The associate in the window is YELLING questions at me over the roar of the rain and wind - "DO YOU WANT KETCHUP?"..."WHAT?"  So I get the food, inch my way to the school, and luckily managed to make it less than three miles in 20 minutes.  YAY!  But now I'm seriously wondering if my van is going to float away.  Somehow I have to get the food, the cookies, the twins, and myself into the school without drowning.  No, I'm not even attempting to stay dry, just to stay breathing.

I park at the drop-off zone...where the ONLY covered spot is taken by a man just sitting in his car.  Sure, definitely you need it more over someone with kids and stuff to...I don't know...DROP OFF!!  I grab Twin A, dash into the school, set her on the ground, and dash back out.  On my way out the door, I hear the secretary in front saying, "Ummm...Excuse me?  What?"  I grab B, dash back in, and set her down.  The secretary looked SO relieved.  I told her, "No, not abandoning my kids, just getting the second one."  I asked her if she could watch the girls so I could move the car, and she agrees.  I come back with the cooler of food.  I swear to you, not only is there a puddle around me, but when I stick my hands in my pockets I find an inch of standing water.  I promise, I'm not lying.  I said to the secretary, "How do I look?"  She says, "If you were being tried as a witch, you'd be innocent."  (There's your cerebral humor for the day.)

When the twins are in unfamiliar territory the tend to walk rather slowly.  Snails were setting landspeed records around us.  I manage to convince them to walk soggily into the cafeteria, but I can't find C.  Then a little girl in her class looks up and starts screaming my daughter's name across the room.  Suddenly the entire cafteria is ringing with her name as ALL the kids in the room yell for her.  The twins don't know what to do, so they turn and try to run away.  B, who is on my left goes across me and tries to run away on my right.  A, on my left, executes a similar maneuver, and now I'm tangled in the leashes.  I go down (with an audible SPLAT), look up, and C is standing in front of my LAUGHING.  OK, moms, you know right now that she's very lucky I decided not to strangle her for being so ungrateful.  After a moment, I joined in, too.

When you come to eat with your child, you get to sit up on the stage so everyone can watch you enjoy your food.  The twins were actually willing to sit still on chairs and eat quietly.  I think they were so overwhelmed by the kids and the noise they couldn't figure out what to do with themselves!  Everyone "oohed" and "ahhed" over them and over C's birthday.  Now it's time to leave.  I've finally stopped dripping, although I look like forgot to put my clothing in the dryer.  We go to the front lobby...and it's barely raining.  Of course, as soon as I got in the cafeteria it all quit.  So I leave the girls inside with the secretary again, run out to the car, drive around, get the twins in the car, start driving home...and I can't see the car in front of me again...apparently the rain gods were saving it until I got back out.

Talk about a harrowing and heroic day!!  Best of all, I got home and discovered that in addition to putting my physical butt in danger I put my mortal soul in jeopardy as well.  Catholics, I must confess...I ate chicken on Ash Wednesday.  Yes, as one friend said, I'm going to the carnivorous circle of hell...And YES, I feel guilty about it.  The worst part is she wants to go to Moe's for dinner...and it's tough for me not to get meat at Moe's.  But this time I KNOW what I'm doing, so that makes the sin the greater...So am I the "World's Best Mom?"  Or am I the "World's Worst Catholic?"  *SIGH*  I guess I'll go ponder that while eating steak...

"Why do Parents yell so much today?..."

Posted on Facebook on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 12:35am
So you hear all over the place talk about how parents yell and scream so much.  How they feel so hamstrung by rules and societal pressure that they feel like their only recourse is to yell.  Perhaps you, too, wonder why.  Permit me to offer a small observation that may illuminate our thinking...

Now first, allow me to say that I think yelling can have it's place IF it is an effective tool in your arsenal as a parent.  Not that I'm suggesting yelling as your first choice of action.  But let's face it - sometimes it's DANGED hard to get things through to those little boogers!  Case in point...

Today C comes home from school dragging her backpack.  She's decided she's much too tired, and just cannot be asked to do any of her chores after school.  I tell her, "Honey, I'm sorry you are tired, but you still have to bring me your papers from your backpack, wash your hands and face, and clean your room."  I know, I know, I'm a DEMANDING task mistress...poor girl, obviously so mistreated.  DFACS, take me away!

Me: "Hey!  Did you get your report card today?"
C: "My whaaa...?"
Me: "Your report card."
C: "Is it in my backpack?"
Me: "Uh...I would assume so, honey.  Check your backpack."
C proceeds to walk back to her backpack, then stops:  "Where should I look?  In my yellow folder?"  (For those who don't know, her yellow folder is the folder that the teacher and I use to send work, messages, etc. for communication between home and school).
Me: "Yes, I would start there."
C: "Ok...what am I looking for again?"
Me: *SIGH* "Your report card."
C: " that like a birthday card?  I really liked my birthday, but I wish you would have gotten me vanilla cake instead of cho..."
Me: "Not a BIRTHDAY card, HONEY...your REPORT CARD."  (Notice the slightly grating tone I'm taking on here.  It's caused by intense teeth gritting)
C: "Oh...What does it look like?"
Me:  *VERY BIG SIGH* "It's in a white envelope inside of your yellow folder.  Would you please go RIGHT NOW to your backpack and bring me your yellow folder.  I will check in your folder to see if your report card is there."
Please note that I am no longer asking for the report card, but have simplified this task a step.  It's so worth it just to end this ridiculous conversation that even Laurel & Hardy could not have followed.
C: "My report report card...Did the teacher send it home?  Maybe you should check your email and see if she sent you an email before I get out my folder."
Me:  ...."Oh, for the love of...GO GET YOUR YELLOW FOLDER NOW!!!!!!!"  The windows rattle momentarily, the twins stare in shock.
C:  "Ok mommy."  Promptly returning with the yellow folder, she opens it.  "Look, here's my report card!  My teacher said as soon as we got home we needed to give this to you immediately.  Here you go mommy!"  She hands it to me with pride.  "I'm so glad I remembered to give it to you.  You should read it right now!"
Me: (Strangled voice) ""  Remember to breath.  One day she won't want to talk to you anymore, and you'll miss these'll sit in silence...exquisite silence...

Now, please note, I didn't start with the yelling...hmmm...maybe I've just diagnosed the problem there...

Disclaimer:  I love my daughters.  Each one is a treasure and a gem.  I have so many wonderful things from them: beautiful works of art, smile and laugh lines, a heart full of love and pride, sticky fingerprints on the TV screen, gray hairs...

Bragging on my DH

Posted on Facebook on Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 10:33pm
I have to brag on my DH and tell you all about my birthday.  First of all, he planned not one, but TWO surprise outings for me!!  This is a man who in the past was lucky to remember to get cupcakes or something before coming home to the meal I cooked.  The closest he did was to pick a restaurant for me and get my family to come back when I was pregnant with the twins.  He acted as though he'd killed the cow himself and built the table with his own bare hands.  So this year, being my 35th birthday, I set my sights low.  Dinner with the family, perhaps a family movie night...not much...

First, he contacts one of my friends in the multiples club, Jen Maise, and asks her to help him plan a girls' night out for my actual birthday.  She tells me that we have a budget meeting for the club on the night of my birthday.  She's good, too, 'cause not only do I believe her, I complain about having a budget meeting ON MY BIRTHDAY, and actually re-write my budget.  I show up to the Chili's, where she informs me, "SURPRISE!  There's no budget meeting tonight!  Let's go to Benihana."  It was so yummy!  Then we poked about B&N - what fun!  I have to say here there were a number of wonderful women in on this surprise who, due to life intervening, were not able to attend but gave me a lovely card.  There's nothing better than knowing friends you love and respect appreciate you, too!!  Not to mention all of you lovelies who posted on my wall.  I tell you, it's a wonder my head still fits through the doors!

So there you go, my b'day is celebrated.  Perhaps a little dinner with my family, and we're done, right?  Not so.  One of the major things I wanted to do tonight is SEE THE LAST HARRY POTTER.  I mean, come on, it comes out the day after my b'day.  Clearly, I'm meant to see this!!  I hinted to my club (no one bit), I hinted to a couple of one.  My DH informed me, "You cannot go see this with anyone but ME!"  Great...that means I'll be seeing it on DVD.  It's not like we have much luck finding babysitters, and my parents are out of town for a while.  Grumble grumble grumble.

Friday night he makes this BIG to-do that we HAVE to watch Deathly Hallows Part 1.  It's almost ridiculous the fuss he makes.  He says, "Somehow I'm going to get you to the theater, and when I do, I want to remember what happened in part 1."  Yeah yeah...We're halfway through the movie, and he says, "Man, that's amazing - can you imagine what it's going to look like on the big screen tomorrow?"  I freeze.  He freezes.  "I'm sorry, tomorrow?  What are we doing tomorrow? WHAT ARE WE DOING TOMORROW?!?!?"  He hangs his head, "I can't believe our six year old kept this secret better than me."

So it turns out my DH also arranged for his sister and my brother to come down Saturday and have lunch with us (chicken slow-cooked in salsa for chicken tacos - YUM!).  He sends me out shopping around 1pm (yes, BY MYSELF, WOOHOO, WITH MONEY).  He and C stay home to decorate.  My bro comes over early and helps C decorate, which consists of her telling him where to put the streamers and then dancing around while he hangs the streamers.  Not a bad job, if I do say so myself.  His sister comes, we eat lunch, and have gifts and cupcakes.  Then DH and I dash out the door, leaving SIL in charge of the kids, to see the LAST HARRY POTTER.  AAAAAH!!  It was AWESOME!!  SO GOOD!!  Sad that it's over, though.  We had a great time afterwards just poking around the Avenues and being on a date night.  TWO (mostly) surprise parties!!

Since I'm bragging, allow me to brag on me, too.  A little over a month ago I learned I was insulin resistant and on my way to type 2 diabetes.  What sucks is that all my life I've known I'm predisposed.  But between my last pregnancy and my HORRIBLE diet, I put myself on the track.  So I cut out sugar and cut back on carbs.  It's not easy, but I've been doing my best.  In fact, I was in this REALLY good ice cream store not too long ago, and I managed to ask for the sugar free section of ice cream.  I thought some of the women around me were going to fall over - "Sugar free?  Who would ask for that here?!?"  They didn't know, and I can't blame them - I'd rather go full sugar!  But I've been good.  So while I was shopping, I realized I had already dropped a size (WOOHOO!).  One of the gifts C picked out (and INSISTED I HAD to have) was a beautiful dress that was two sizes too small.  Yes, I know, at least they went small.  Tonight, after we get home, C says, "You just GOTTA try on that dress.  PLEASE?!?!?"  Oh shoot, I mean, it's TWO SIZES too small.  But I think, "Well, it's a bit stretchy, so hopefully I won't bust the seams..."  I put it on...I look in the mirror...DH stares at me with his jaw dropped...and C says smugly, "See, I TOLD you it would fit!!!"  Pass the splenda, please!

I guess I reenter the real world, but at least I do so one size smaller (two in some styles!).

Not even a TEENAGER yet!

Posted on Facebook on Monday, July 25, 2011 at 4:50pm
Actual conversation with my oldest this morning:
Me: Honey, go put on your shoes.
C: Mommy, the babies can't put on their shoes by themselves!
Me: Honey, I'm talking to you.
C: Oh!  What did you want me to do?
Me: Go put on your shoes.
C: OK!  (Runs off down the hall, rummaging in room, returns a moment later) Mommy, I can't find the babies' shoes.
Me (Getting annoyed): No, honey, go put on YOUR shoes!!!
C:  Oh!  Where are they?
Me:  How would I KNOW?!?  Check your room!
C:  Ok!
I'm busy getting the babies' shoes, my shoes, my purse, etc.  C comes back nearly five minutes later
C: Can I put on my shoes now, or should I wait?
ME:  !?!?!?!?!?!?!?  PUT THEM ON!!!!!!
C:  Why do you always have to yell?  Could you try not yelling for one day?
Me:  Sure honey.  Could you try listening one day?  Are your shoes on?
C:  Well I can't go get them if we're gonna stand here discussing it!
(C flounces off to her room, stage right.  Mommy stands there, infuriated, trying to remember to breath.  Twins continue trying to destroy living room...)

The Great Backpack Quest

Post on Facebook Monday, July 18, 2011 at 7:04pm

So today we just HAD to buy a new backpack.  You know, one that is "cool," not one that has icky Disney Princesses all over it.  I mean, come on, she's like, totally 6, and like, Disney Princesses are totally o-u-t.  Only like babies like them...well, to be fair, her room is covered in Princesses.  Unfortunately, she was in a class last year of kids who were mostly second and third children, and apparently to be 6 now means you must like Barbie...Justin Bieber...or (far worse...) Hanna Montana...

We struck a deal.  After counting out her allowance (which isn't much), we decided that she would pay for half of the backpack, and we'd pay for the other half.  BUT (you knew there was a but, right?  It's a mom's prerogative) it could not have ANY character's or celebrity's face on it.  "AW MOM!!"  Yep, I knew I was on the right track.  I am not going to buy her a new backpack every year.  She has a perfectly decent one bought two years ago, and I'm not made of money.  It doesn't grow on trees, does it?  Sorry...channeling childhood conversations...

So what does an accumulation of $12 buy you?  Well, I'll tell you what it DOESN'T buy you, a trip to anywhere other than Walmart.  That's right...the EVIL EMPIRE.  Now honestly, I don't like shopping at Walmart.  I know all of the allegations and abuses, the abandoned buildings, the issues...but I have one income, three kids, and a postage-stamp sized house.  I'm attempting this couponing thing, but I can't tell if it's going well right sometimes you bite the bullet and do what you have to do...and sometimes you get hoist on your own petard.  That's why I don't like munitions and guns in the house...

So Monday we just HAVE to get this backpack.  I checked around online, and determined that *sigh* Walmart really was the best choice.  Ugh...just what I was hoping to do on Monday.  I go through the sale pages and prepare to buy what I need, clipping coupons (saved $6.30), making a list...staying up WAY too late.  Got up WAY too late Monday morning - not an auspicious start.

We've finished breakfast.  The girls have their shoes on.  We're all ready to head out.  Did I print that last coupon?  Oh crap!  Stop fussing!  It will only take a minute.  I mean, it's ONE coupon.  I already have the coupon printer installed...on the other computer...oh I go boot up the other machine, or just install on the machine where I'm sitting?  The great dilemma.  I can tell you now, no matter what you choose, it is the WRONG choice.  I went with installation on a new computer.  One hour later I'm SCREAMING with FURY at this STUPID COMPUTER and PROGRAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh, sorry, deep breath...and now it's been an hour and a half since I fed the girls, meaning the twins are already talking about "crackers" and "lunch."  So I make peanut butter sandwiches, toss everyone in the - B, what do you mean you lost your shoe?  Seriously?  We just walked from the house to the van?  Where is it?  On the other side of the yard?  How the HECK did you manage that?  I don't - where's A?  She was in the van a minute ago...what do you mean she wiggled out of her straps?  What do you mean you SAT THERE AND WATCHED HER DO IT?!?!?  No, you can't go to the - oh crap!  Why didn't you go bef - JUST GO!

Another 30 minutes later, we're finally on the road, and mom's pretty, uh...perturbed.  We get to Walmart, where the backpack ends up being the EASIEST part of the day.  She got a really cute one that's bigger than her current one and has very nice features - attached lunchbag, clear pocket with matching notebook, pencil, and ruler...very reasonably priced and by a reputable name...OK, well, that's done with...We buy a few other school supplies, pay, and are about to leave when a ruler and two packages of notecards falls out.  What the?  We're escorted primly back in by the greeter at the front door to face an interrogation by the manager...No, I'm not shoplifting $1.50 worth of stuff while paying for the other $25 worth...I didn't realize they were in there...the babies must have tossed them in...I'm sorry, but you see, there are two and...yes, I do watch them, but as I said, there are two...yes, they are, I swear I'm not - oh, yes, identical...both girls...even the one wearing purple, thank you...oh gee, thank you SO MUCH for going easy on me this time.  Goodness, I thought it was Federal prison for sure...

Then it dawns on me - I have a whole other shopping list that totally slipped my mind.  I won't bore you with the next hour and a half that includes my daughters pushing the cart into some man and nearly injuring him, screaming bloody murder with boredom, and being informed primly by TWO Walmart employees that THEIR children would never have behaved like that (The mean part of me always wants to ask, "Oh how wonderful for you - how often do your kids write/call?")...we get back to the front, and the cashier says, "Oh look, it's the twin shoplifters!"  Goodie...a label...

We get home, to find the garage door WON'T OPEN...I smack the opener, wiggle the avail.  I call my DH - where's the closest place to get a new battery?  Oh no, seriously?  You have to be kidding way I'm going back to the same one!  So it's off to a different Walmart (their electronics section has the most unbelievable selection of batteries!).  You can imagine the state of my kids (not to mention me) by now.  We're almost free, when we get stopped for "the conversation."  Yes, they are twins...yes, identical...yup, sure do look alike...both girls...three girls...nope, not IVF...I'd love to bust your romanticized notion of twins, but I'm seriously out of time.  Sorry, I can't hear you over the screaming...

This morning, I decided I was NOT going to go through a fast food place if I could help it...I couldn't help it.  We're dying by now.  I don't know if we'll be able to get into the house.  So I run through McDonald's and head home.  My DH is cutting grass for my parents, so he won't be home until late, and if we can't get in, I'm just going up there.  I install the new battery, push the button...oh no, seriously?  I mean SERIOUSLY?!?  GEEEEAAAAUGH!!!  So I do that thing where you smack it in desperation...and up goes the door.  YES!!!!

I'm home, we're fed, the girls have destroyed the living room in a ridiculously short time, and I've got so much to do...but at least I had french fries... ;-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

6: The age of the Journalist

I like to refer to age 6 as the age of the Journalist.  My students could recite to you in dry monotone (but in a heartbeat) what I call, the "5 Ws and an H" of journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.  I find that VERY appropriate to my daughter these days.  Allow me to illustrate my point: 

"WHAT are you doing?!?"
"WHY would you do this?!?"
"WHO is going to help me clean up this mess?!?"
"HOW did you think this would end?!?"
"WHEN are you going to learn?!?"
"WHERE on earth did you come up with that idea?!?"

I rest my case...

Wham, Bam, Thank you...Santa?

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 being today, I've been really ambivalent as to how to celebrate the day.  DH and I worked for a company that was the helpdesk for Marsh, one of the companies that was in the WTC buildings floors 96 and above in BOTH buildings.  I can't say I knew those people personally, but I dealt with them regularly.  Some were really lovely.  Some were not.  I remember this one guy, who used to call and scream, "I WANT MY LAPTOOOOOPPP!" over and over again until we sent the local techs to his desk.  I remember one lady who was so excited, because her daughter was getting married the summer of 2001 and was hoping for a grandchild.  I remember the second and third level technology teams who worked on site.  I remember seeing all of their names on the list of people lost when the towers collapsed.  Many of them probably went before that, given that they were on the 96th floor on the side of the building where the plane struck.  When our company went out of business in June of 2000 they actually offered me a job if I would transfer up to NY...and work in the WTC...I said no, but I have to admit, it had some appeal.  Single, working in NY, living in a company-owned apartment....but ultimately I couldn't leave my family.  It wasn't really a seriously-considered option, but yes, the "What ifs" crossed my mind a lot.

So what do I do to celebrate this day?  How do I explain the enormity of it to twin 2yo and a 6yo?  Not to mention my DH has never talked about it.  I mean, I realize these people weren't out best friends.  But we recognized NAME after NAME.  Finally, I realized that this day is about the US, but also that we as a family are here, and we have each other.  Maybe it's lame.  Maybe I'm ducking out on the truth.  But I decided today should be a day about family.

So we had a GREAT day!  Homemade breakfast - apples we picked yesterday at the apple farm (BJ Reece - already out of red delicious, but the Staymen Winesaps are DELICIOUS), eggs, bacon, and (sugar & gluten free) pancakes (yep, taste about like you'd imagine, but smother them with enough sugar free syrup, and they taste like soggy cardboard!).  Then we went for a family bike ride.  DH had to pull the twins in the trailer while C rode the trail-a-bike behind me.  We only managed about 4 - 5 miles ('cause Mom sucks), but we had FUN.  Off to BK for "chicken fries" (the babies just abbreviate "chicken nuggets" and "french fries") and fun on the playground.  The girls had the BEST time together.  It was just glorious.  Back home for a short nap.  On the way home, DH and I hit upon the plan to take the girls to the Cumming Fairground for fireworks - "Let's call my parents and celebrate Grandparents day, too!" I said.  Sure, they'd love to come.  Nap from 6 - 7pm while C and I shower and then she makes a very cute card.  Up and at 'em, off to the fireworks!

The fireworks are late starting, and A is just IN A MOOD.  Oh boy, if I thought I knew stubborn!!!!  This girl may just almost out-stubborn me!  I said almost - trust me...she'll learn.  Don't no one mess with MAMA!!  But finally the fireworks start.  A is TERRIFIED.  B is really unsure about this...C is hiding behind Daddy with her hands over her ears, but she's not crying.  I wrap A in my sweatshirt and press her ear to my heart.  She peeks out.  After a couple of minutes, she whispers, "Green."  Green?  No fire-OH MY GOODNESS!!  THAT FIREWORK IS GREEN!!  A second later, "Pink."  YES BABY, YESS!!!!  This little one, who has shown NO interest in identifying colors, correctly identified the color of EVERY SINGLE FIREWORK!!!  "Red."  "Blue."  "Purple."  "Yellow - 'SOK, Mommy, not loud...White."  WHOOHOOO!!!  YOU GO, GIRL!  (Yes, I'm aware it will be 6 months until she identifies colors again, but give me my victories, OK?)

We're leaving, very happy and proud of our country.  We come down the hill and stop at the crosswalk, waiting for the police to tell us we can cross the street.  I notice a man a few people in front of us.  Could that be...?  I lean down to C and whisper, "Hey, don't say anything, but I think SANTA is here in disguise."  I mean the guy is round, with a head full of lovely white hair and a nicely trimmed white beard.  "Santa?" C cries, "Where's Santa?"  She leaps for joy...literally.  "I don't see-"

WHAM!  BAM!!  HOLY CRAP!  She smashes her forehead into my eye socket, crushing the outer eye.  I'm seeing fireworks of my OWN suddenly.  NO, I don't know what color they were.  THEY HURT!  It's that kind of hurt that's so sudden and so intense you can't breathe.  Honestly, it reminded me a lot of when I broke my knee.  A sudden, searing, snapping pain.  I clap my left hand over my left eye and attempt to remember how to suck air IN.  C's nattering on about Santa, when suddenly she looks at me and grows quiet.  Then she bursts into tears.  "I'm SO SORRY mommy," she sobs bitterly.  I'd like to tell her it's OK, it's an accident, but frankly, breathing is a more immediate concern to me.  I try to pat her face and apparently stick my hand over her mouth.  It's not like I know where anything is at the moment...

The lady in front of us keeps turning around to watch us.  My DH was getting annoyed.  As I told you, little was getting through to me other than "INHALE...EXHALE...INHALE...INHALE..."  The lady finally steps back and asks my DH if everything is OK.  He explains the situation.  The woman gives me a sympathetic look.  Then she steps up to the man that started all of this, and whispers in his ear.  By now I can breathe, and I'm raggedly assuring C it's OK, that I will live, but could she PLEASE NOT smack any other parts of me tonight?  The guy stops, looks over his shoulder, and a slow, broad, grin comes over his face.  He slips past the woman, kneels down right in front of C, takes her hand, and presses something into it.  He winks and nods... (YES, I swear to you, he did both)...and says, "You be a good girl, and I'll see you in three months."  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!  I look at C, she looks at me...we can't speak.  I mean, I'm sorry, if you'd been there, you might have heard jingle bells!  She breathlessly gushes, "THANK YOU!"  Once again I'm speechless, but for an entirely different reason.  He stands up, pats C on the head, pats me on the arm, and whispers, "Ho, ho, ho!"  Then the police are motioning us across the street and he's off.  He waves to us as he heads off to the left.  We wave back as we go right.  None of us speak.

We get into the parking lot and almost up to the car when C screams, "I JUST SAW SANTA!!!"  DH and I can hardly speak.  She shows us what he gave her.  It's a wooden coin with a picture of Santa Clause that says, "I got caught being good by Santa."  On the back it says, "Made just for me by Santa's workshop."  That is SO COOL!!  Here is a guy who LOVES what he does.  We discuss how Santa might like to take breaks from time to time and attend various events or take a little vacation.  C can't WAIT to tell everyone at school tomorrow.  That coin is under her pillow and I'm sure the dreams are wonderful ;-)

I'm not sure if I'm going to have a black eye.  If I do, it's a worthwhile reminder.  Love and hope exist all around us.  If we can just hold on to those emotions, and spread the joy, the US...and the world...will be a better place!

Precision...Estimation...What's the difference?

So our Mothers of Multiples club hosted a really cool talk about couponing, how to do it, why you DON'T need 432 bottles of mustard, how to keep your wallet fat, etc.  The speakers really gave us useful information and ideas, and I think while I may have a long learning curve, this is going to be really good for my finances and family in the long run.  I must say, the meeting planner at this club is really impressive - she seems to come up with the best topics for our meetings.  I'm quite impressed with her.  In fact...oh, ok, you've figured out who it is.  I'll shut up now... ;-)

Through the talk it dawned on me that the first thing I'm gonna need to make this couponing thing work, scissors are the second thing, thanks...a chest or upright freezer.  Otherwise, where the heck am I gonna put all this meat I bought on a crazy-good sale?  Ah, but that brings us to another good question - where to put the freezer?  Now in my house there are three exits.  There's the front door and the back door, and there's this third door where a narrow corridor allows passage through a dark and tightly-packed cave of crap to the cars.  What is this gloomy and creepy place, you might ask?  Spiders and bugs lurk there, as do remnants of old baby toys, half-used bags of potting soil, forgotten Christmas decorations, the filing cabinets, and other miscellaneous items.  Frankly, it's a place that we usually rush through without looking too carefully around - you never know what you'll find.  My DH and I decided, however, it was time to explore this great unknown.  Armed with pickaxes, shovels, guide ropes, and miners caps (complete with lights), we began our foray.

Slowly we made headway into the space.  "Holy cow - we have folding chairs?" I gasped!  "Hey!  That's what happened to this computer shell!" my DH cried in shock.  Sure enough, as we dug through the clutter around us, we uncovered gem after forgotten gem, a great deal of trash, and...oh my...could that be?!...*Gasp!*  "IT'S A FLOOR!!!"  Great Googly Moogly!!  We have a GARAGE!!!!  You mean that thing used to shelter a car?  NO WAY!!!

The cleaning continues for a couple of days as we realize the vast (well, not that vast) untapped wealth of space we have before us.  Eagerly we reach in, discarding junk, placing items into donate or recycle piles, even finding items I KNEW we owned, but just couldn't figure out where it went...and sure enough, we found that we ACTUALLY had space for a FREEZER!  Who knew?

Now, I'm not the kind of woman who brings in heavy pieces of furniture and has people move them from wall to wall to get a feel for how things will fit.  "I'm sorry your hernia is acting up, but could you and your sciatica PLEASE move it back to that wall one more time?  I think I've finally figured out where to put it."  No, sorry - it's wasteful, inefficient, and most of all, the complaining is just annoying.  Suck it up, muscly people - you got your workout for the day!  No, instead I measure the dimensions of the room and all of the components to be placed therein.  This has to be done in great detail with PRECISION.  Note, I said PRECISION.  Afterall, once I have all of the measurements, I figure out my scale and draw the room on graph paper (I'm sorry, have you met me?  Capital "A" hyphen capital "R").  I make three or four copies of the paper and then spend time drawing in the different items in different arrangements to figure out where it goes best.  Hey!  Hush up!  You have your fun, and I have mine.  It's my engineering side finally getting to do something useful.

So my DH knows my system well, and since it means he has a lot less heavy lifting to do, he doesn't complain at all.  In fact, my dad is willing to come help with both the continual clean out (turns out we have about 72 coolers - I thought we had two) and the moving of the items because he knows it will all go in ONE spot without being shifted around too much.  Frankly, if I didn't graph it, he would, so it's really a form of self-defense.  But I digress.  I explain to my DH that the room and the items MUST be measured with PRECISION.  He assures me he can be quite precise.  I am still waiting to see that...perhaps it only happens during the equinox?  So he goes around and measures "carefully" (his word, not mine), calling out measurements in inches.  Yes, you heard me - inches!  Stop interrupting!

We finish the measurements, including measuring the car (hey - did you know they have all of the specifications we needed about the PRECISE width, length, how far the doors open, etc. online?  Found this out a couple of hours AFTER measuring), and head back in the house for the graphtastic fun!  You won't believe what I discovered - we have so much MORE ROOM in this garage than we ever realized!  In fact, there's no reason why we can't move around the van WITH THE DOORS CLOSED (did I mention we actually used this room for it's intended function at one time?  No - sorry.  Mommy brain).  Oh Happy Day!

So after the graphing, I'm proudly studying my work, when it dawns on me that if we had this much room come we couldn't move around the van back then with the door closed?  How come things seemed so much more scrunched before...and that was without a freezer - oh no, wait, we had a chest freezer.  Then one day we had a smell.  And the smell grew...and grew...and pregnant mommy couldn't be in the garage anymore during the June before she had the babies...and not pregnant daddy developed morning sickness when discovering the cause of said smell...sorry, tangent (look at the shiny baubles!).  So why didn't this work before?...huh....

I said to DH, "Does something seem off to you?"  He checks the drawings.  "Yeah, the water heater area isn't that big...and that wall seems to long...and the garage definitely didn't have that much excess space around the van..." So I said to him, "That's what I'm thinking, too.  What do you think is the problem here?"  So after a moment of quiet study, he says, "When you put in that measurement, did it include the distance from the door to the wall, or just the size of the door?"  I said, "I don't know - you measured it.  What did you do?"  He says, "I estimated."  ....estimated?...Estimated?...ESTIMATED?!?!?  WHAT?!?!?  He shrugs.  "I was trying to get it done fast so we could go to bed."  "BUT YOU TOLD ME YOU WERE BEING PRECISE."  "Oh." he says, "Precision...estimation...what's the difference?"

About three feet, it turns out.  THREE FEET!  Guess what?  We can't walk around the van when the garage door is closed.  The freezer, worktable, and bikes are about to get a LOT cozier!  And you can forget the luxurious space between shelves!  And you don't get to measure in the cool-ishness of the evening.  No way, buddy.  You mess with my precision, you re-measure in the heat of the afternoon!  Yeah!  With the sun shining in.  Take that, Mr. "Guesstimation!"

Oh, can you just see us now rearranging the garage?  It's going to be a fun time for sure!  Fortunately I do love him very much, but you can ask my students - I am the master of tough love!  ;-)  I'll let you know how he fairs.

Oh, and Lowes has many of their appliances on sale - we got a good upright freezer for under $400 with a temperature ALARM, security lock (for the babies, thank you - he's still allowed in there), and small footprint to fit in my garage that is MISSING THREE FEET.  It will be delivered tomorrow (Sunday).