Saturday, September 29, 2007


Doorbell rings at 10:00 a.m.
Kitten: "Ooh, pizza!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Kick

I decided today that I am banned from Target for 21 days. And for each business day during that 21 days that I don't bring my lunch to work, my Target ban is extended an additional day.

Exception: Thursday People. In and out.

Zip it up

Another tidbit of Crazy Syl's Mothering Advice - take with a grain of salt and a glass of Shiraz.

Everyone told me how they had zipped up their kid's skin in their jammies at least once while I was pregnant with Kitten, and I swore I was a better mother. I would NEVER do that. I would be more careful.

And when I had an infant, I developed the first finger system, where I run the zipper with my thumb and middle finger and crook my first finger in behind the zipper. Brilliance! I could never zip my kid's skin with this system. I am the smartest mother in history.

But pride goeth before the fall, and an infant is a far cry from a toddler. I am lucky to get the jammies zipped without performing wresting moves on the kids, much less utilizing the first finger system. Now I know that moms who zipped their kids were just trying to get the zipper up while their toddler was turning away and wriggling to get your grip off their ankle.

So, be careful with the thoughts of being better and coming up with the ingenious systems - the kids change from day to day and what may have worked yesterday doesn't work tomorrow.

And don't judge your mother until you have walked a mile in her footie jammies.

Why I would lose Survivor

"Oh my god, are these people really having a bitch fight over this?"
"Well, you have to remember they haven't eaten in 4 days. Imagine trying to have a civil conversation with me if I hadn't eaten in 4 days."
Yeah, but they would have killed you days ago."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


This time on Seconds from Disaster, we'll go deep into the investigation of a tragic closet collapse. Our investigators will use cutting edge technology to find out what left a whole rack of clothes... Seconds From Disaster.

Our investigator, arriving on the scene, immediately noticed an anomaly in the closet wall - one of the sheetrock anchors was folded over, presumably by the force of the drill, showing that the associated screw in the middle support was never properly connected.

The investigation of the closet collapse has been seriously delayed by the piles of rubble that had yet to be cleared. Rescue and recovery led to another intriguing discovery however - several of the original bolts, all with threads covered in sheetrock dust. Could improperly anchored connectors be the cause of the devastating crash?

And then, while nearing the end of clearing the scene of the tragedy, the investigator discovered a final clue: a final screw with a wall anchor still attached.

So now, using high-tech instruments to reconstruct the accident, we can recreate the collapse that left all those clothes... Seconds From Disaster.

1 day to disaster: laundry kicks into high gear and several loads are completed. The homeowner hangs all clothes, some still damp, in the newly-constructed closet.

5 minutes to disaster: The final load is hung on the rack, which has reached critical capacity. Slowly, the wall supports begin to give and pull away from the sheetrock.

3 seconds to disaster: The right side support, completely unanchored, gives under the load of the clothing. The rod then pulls down the middle support, where the bottom screw has not connected to the anchor. The final failure is the left support, where the anchor is torn from the wall from the force of the collapse.

All in all, there are at least 30 survivors of the tragedy. Sadly, at least 10 outfits are too badly damaged to escape the washer, and one pair of pants remains in critical condition, covered in cat hair.

Join us next time as we discover the hidden causes that leave us... Seconds From Disaster.

Too Funny

Big Bang Theory:

"We should invite her to dinner."
"But we were going to watch the second season of Battlestar Galactica."
"We already watched Season 2."
"Not with the commentary."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sheer brilliance

Instead of a horrible customer service experience, I actually have a really good one.

I went to Lane Bryant last weekend to buy bras and I ended up trying on a couple of other things. They were having a trouser sale and if you bought three pair, you got $20 off each pair. But one of the pairs didn't fit and they didn't have it in my size.

"Do you want to try them on in brown or gray? If they fit, we'll just have the black ones shipped to you." And they shipped them to me free. Of charge. Free.

Lane Bryant has instituted this new program, LB2ME, and if you want anything they don't have in stock in the store, you pay for it with your purchase and they ship it right to your door for free. Clearly this is a bonus for me, the customer, meaning they will always "have" what I need. I also always get the sale price that's going on at the time. Like the pants deal, I still got the $20 off the pants they had to ship because they were the third pair.

But if you think about it from the company's perspective, this is so genius it's amazing all stores don't do it. The company's benefits:
  • They get a guaranteed sale - you pay for it right away, in the moment, so there's no changing your mind on the way to the other store to buy your merchandise.
  • The store you are in gets credit for the sale. This is big in retail, since the stores compete against each other in sales for a region. And they really did the work to sell it.
  • Headquarters can track what items and sizes sell out in each store, which can help them stock appropriately.
Plus, they get more business because, who doesn't want to go to that store? Where they appreciate that you came out so they're going to promise their stock or ship it to you direct.

I want to give that store my money.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Big girl steps

We put Kitten in a toddler bed tonight. It was used, so it was missing one pair of bolts and the side rail that they usually come with, but I think I'm going to get a safety rail tomorrow. We've already had a little crisis tonight because Baby fell out of bed and Kitten couldn't find her.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Worst. Tragedy. Ever.

Pants told me about an email today that said it was everyone's duty to fly a flag on 9/11 to commemorate the worst tragedy in American History.


I'm not saying it wasn't bad, and it was certainly the worst American tragedy in my lifetime. But come on. Um, Pearl Harbor? The World Wars? The Civil War, where we suffered the worst losses of any war? Ok, we were on both sides and sustained ALL the losses, but hey. Much worse tragedy.

So it's different because it was aimed at civilians?

Let's ask a Native American if 9/11 was the worst American tragedy visited upon civilians. Or how about an African American, whose ancestors were kidnapped and shipped here into slavery. Hmmm. That sounds like a tragedy.

So, let's not be so short-sighted. If we put this into the timeline of American history, I'm not sure this incidence even ranks in the top 10. It was bad, and those of us who were alive when it happened will always remember where we were when we heard. But ask your parents where they were when they found out Kennedy was shot. That was a pretty big tragedy to them and now it barely rates. Perspective.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

We hit the wall

Meimei finally pushed matters too far last night.

She's been crying in the evenings this week and refusing to go to sleep. She was refusing a bottle. And last night, at 12:30, she woke up and pulled it. In the middle of the night. Well, mama will take a lot of getting up, and mama will take a lot of late-night bottle feeding, but there is a line. And it was crossed.

I will not feed a meal in the middle of the frickin' night.

So now, Miss Meimei can cry it out at night until she starts sleeping through. No bottles, no getting up. We let her cry last night, and I was able to go back to sleep, so I don't know how long it was. Pants had to go sleep downstairs. It should only take another night or two to work it out.

Point is: She got greedy, so she got cut off.

That is Crazy Syl's advice - cut 'em off when you can't take anymore. Take with a grain of salt and a glass of Shiraz.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I am so over... Fashion Edition

Giant "tote" handbags. What are you carrying in there, your mother-in-law?

Toe cleavage. Wear 'em strappy or don't show 'em at all. Peep-toe is acceptable, but only if it's sling-back. Otherwise it's just weird.

"Women's" clothing departments that suck - I'm not 85, 6'7", or trying to blind anyone. Nor am I interested in using cleavage to deflect attention. And straight-leg pants that look like you could smuggle refugees at the bottom? Not slimming.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Men in Trees

There is a man in my tree. And apparently, he is nuts. But we're keeping his number.

One the neighbors from behind us (so we don't know them) came out in her granny nightgown at about 8:30 and chewed out the guy in the tree for being so loud, so early. We kept going anyway. We're already going to spend the whole day cleaning up our yard and the neighbor's. And pardon us for cutting down the dead tree so it doesn't fall onto your house, bitch.

The man also said we need to cut some arms off the silver maple in the back to keep from losing that one, too. So we might call again next year so as not to kill the neighbor's fence in the process.

And lo, there will be firewood for the winter.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Goal Setting

Ok, it's September already, winter is coming, and it's time to get serious about some of the things I need to do.

Before 2008 rolls in, I will:

Caulk my windows. ($20-30)
Line the well with insulation, set it up for storage so the items are labeled, in bins, and off the ground. Apparently, this is the thing to use. ($640)
Complete the home inventory. Or, at least the upstairs. ($0)
Fix my closet. ($10-20, depending)
Get flood insurance. In light of recent flooding (like, the last 10 years worth), I think it's appropriate.

You want to come here when?

Pants called a guy for an estimate on the tree and when it came in at only slightly more than it would cost to rent the crane, he jumped.

And the guy is coming tomorrow to cut down the tree.

At 7:30.

In the morning.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The GreenSwitch

Beware, when you click on the link, Ed Begley Jr. will begin talking immediately.

Unfortunately, I was a bit misled by Ed on the cost of the GreenSwitch. The basic kit is $1125, which comes with the master switch, a thermostat, 4 wall switches, and 4 outlets. Additional outlets and switches are $88.75 each.

It's pretty easy to install, though, if you can do very basic electric work (and even I can do very basic electric work). You swap out the outlets wherever you want appliances or electrical stuff to shut off when you leave. You swap out switches wherever you want lights to shut off when you leave. The master switch gets swapped out for the switch by your point of exit/entry - it has a switch with a slider button next to it, so you keep the functionality of the switch and use the slider to shut off the power. You can also get a remote for exiting from other areas of the house.

When you leave the house, you turn off the main switch. A signal is sent to all of the switches and outlets that shuts them off, stopping all electrical "seepage". Many people don't know that most items still draw power while plugged in, even if they are turned off. Televisions, computers, and entertainment equipment are big offenders. GreenSwitch also has outlets that are half-enabled, so you can leave your Tivo powered up, but your TV, DVD, and cable box shut off completely. You can set up switches in your kitchen so the stove and microwave shut off, but the fridge continues to run.

They (the website selling the product) say the cost will be recouped in 1-2 years, but that you should expect 2. They also say that shutting down the power completely will extend the life of your appliances, electronics, and heating and air, but I imagine that's difficult to quantify.

Although the product is 3 times more expensive than I was led to believe on the show, I am still considering it. It does require some planning to stay within the 4 switches/4 outlets thing, and I might require one of those half switches for my Tivo, due to outlet restrictions. I also have to do some research on what I can have off and what I can't - can a gas range be off? Can my wireless internet, if it's running the Tivo? And which 4 light switches get turned off? The bathrooms, kitchen, and livingroom? The bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen?

And then there's that issue of $1200 just lying around...


I, too, saw all the sites calling Brit fat after the VMAs, which is a sick representation of our society. When that's fat, it's no wonder girls get eating disorders.

And I'm sorta starting to feel bad for the kid, you know? I heard someone hypothesize that she's bipolar and it's starting to make more and more sense. Crazy highs, impulsive and/or dangerous behavior, self-medication, and shutting out anyone trying to crash her mood (her mom?). This is the part we see, the crazy stuff. The part we don't see is the depression, when she disappears for days, weeks, when she is too tired to put on shoes to go into a public restroom. Bipolar disorder most often expresses itself in late adolescence to early adulthood.

Imagine if you had a disease that is widely misdiagnosed because no one asks the right questions and you don't know the symptoms of the highs and lows are related. The average bipolar person exhibits symptoms for 10 years before diagnosis. Plus, you have enough money to shut out anyone who disagrees with you during the highs, which makes the lows even worse. When you only have "yes" people around you that are hanging on for the next party, no one is interested in getting you well.

And if you're misdiagnosed because you only complain of the depressive symptoms, you might end up taking antidepressants, which will make the mania worse without a mood stabilizer. Brit could have been put on an antidepressants in treatment as part of her recovery. That would explain her increasingly bizarre behavior since then.

An additional note: The correlation between bipolar disorder and creativity is startlingly high. Feel free to begin the snide comments.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Random Thoughts

Did you see the Brit stank-fest on the VMAs? I'm sure you can google it, but, um, yuck. It was like watching Madonna in the 90s. Except she didn't care at all, didn't even have the dancing, and seemed a bit confused. She definitely didn't commit. I was promised a disappearing act - hence, her liaison with Criss Angel - and I kinda wish it had happened. Permanently. Helloooo, train crash.

The bed and stroller solutions - my parents brought a 4 ft. bedrail and another smaller one - we put the smaller one on the inside of the bed so Kitten would leave the window alone and the 4 ft one on the outside to keep her in bed. She thought she was the queen bee in that bed - she was SO proud. We will be moving her to her toddler bed soon. For the strollers, we brought our ($100) umbrella stroller and MIL's Kolcraft umbrella ($3 at Salvation Army) because it folded so small. Result: we trashed our $100 because it couldn't handle the terrain, but I just bought a match today for the Kolcraft ($20 new) so we now have two small strollers that we will use. The kids loved them, it held up really well, even when gate-checked onto the plane, and it's cheap and comes in several colors. Plus, they fold up SUPER small, so even with 2 in my hatch, I can still fit bags and such. YAY!

New show I'm trying - Living with Ed on HGTV. All about green living (with Ed Begley, Jr.), although it appears to be green living for the rich. So we'll see. (Ok, Ed's got a "gardener", but has almost no lawn. He has a ton of hardscape and very specific plants. Hmmm. What does the gardener do?) They did just do a "whole house" switch that looked pretty cool, though. They said it was $400, but it's a switch at the exit of the house that shuts off every non-essential item (that you've set up, I assume) completely, as opposed to leaving it in "standby" mode, even though you turned it off. So your TV doesn't keep sucking power, but your fridge stays on. It might actually recover its own cost in 6-8 months if it truly reduces power consumption 25-40%.

I don't know if it's the weather change, or a simultaneous growth spurt or teething, or just a gift from the gods, but both children are extremely tired very early and have been going to bed before or at 7:00 p.m. Weird. Anyone else's kids dog tired?

You are on the list

I am looking at you, Northwest.

The plan for getting there was to fly into Boston, then drive up to Maine with my parents. This went pretty well, actually.

The plan for getting home was the same in reverse: drive down to Boston with my parents and fly back home. We set off at 9:00 to ensure we got to the airport with enough time to check in, get through security, etc. Didn't want anything to go wrong, you know?

But as soon as we got there and got in line to check in, we found out the flight was delayed 1:15. Maintenance issues. We get down to the gate (after driving the strollers down a flight of stairs because we could find no elevator to the lower level of gates) and set the children free - free-range children. Wear them out before the flight. Get them some food, milk, etc. We wait out the delay and board the flight.

We wait aboard the plane and try to keep the children occupied until we begin to taxi. We start moving, and miraculously, the children both doze off. We taxi, and taxi, and keep going, making at least two rounds of the runways in Boston. At one point, I ask Pants if they are driving us home. And then we pull back up to the gate. The children are still asleep and we don't know what's going on yet. We wait, the kids wake up, and we wait some more. At least 45 minutes.

The pilot comes on and says there is a maintenance issue with the landing gear that is more complicated than they thought. They are going to have to replace a tire and a rotor and it will take around an hour, give or take. If we get off, we should bring our boarding passes.

We get off and head straight to the bar. We get some milk for the kids and Jack and Cokes for ourselves, and we take the kids back to the gate and let them loose. After about another hour, I get in line to find out what's going on. While in line, I start hearing that the flight is canceled until the morning. Someone in line says their mother just called and sees this flight online as taking off tomorrow. And the gate attendants, talking to each other like we either aren't there or are all deaf and blind, are saying there are only enough seats on the next flight for half the passengers on this one. I get booked on the 6:00 p.m. flight because I am already in line. The original flight was supposed to have left at 1:15. We have been at the airport since 11:30.

We go upstairs, sans strollers because they are on the plane that is not taking off (gate-checked), and the upstairs is not nearly as nice, new, clean, or carpeted. So Pants holds Meimei and walks in circles while I take Kitten for a walk. We find a McDonald's and get some food and go back. We all sit down and have some dinner, as it is now 5:30-ish. My phone is dead, so we find a plug-in to set next to on the floor while I charge it. During our little meal, the airport announces that the jetway is inoperable for our new flight, so there has been a gate change. Back to where we were. So we finish our meal, gather up our bags and our munchkins, and head back downstairs. The flight leaves late and we are all completely done by the time it takes off.

Everything goes downhill from there. The kids try to keep it together, but the last half hour of the flight is a complete melt-down. Kitten just starts crying uncontrollably during landing that Pants justs unbuckles her and holds her. It doesn't stop, but we feel better. It takes about 3 years to put the plane on the ground and I have these irrational thoughts of standing up and yelling at the pilot to just land on the freeway, for crying out loud.

We finally get down and we have to wait to taxi into the gate, and we're way in the back, so we have to wait forever to get off. And apparently they have driven us home, but we have to walk all the way back through the airport to get our luggage. This must have been why it took so long to taxi. And we wait for our baggage, but the baggage coming out isn't even for our flight - right carousel, but apparently they can't use any of the other 7 open carousels for our flight, they have to wait for this one to be done. So we decide to take the kids to the car, and we know we are in the green ramp, but there is a green ramp for short term and a green ramp for general parking, which is about the dumbest thing I ever heard. So we end up in the wrong green ramp and we just turn on each other.

Now, it takes a lot for the two of us to really go at each other, but we hit the end and went for each other's throats. It only lasts about two sentences and we just stop speaking after that. We both know it's all the tension, that neither of us meant any of it, so we try to pick up and go on, stop the madness and try to be nice to each other. We apologize later.

We find the car eventually, Pants takes off to get the luggage, I get the kids and carry-ons into the car, pick up Pants, and we finally get home. Kids go into bed as is, Meimei gets a bottle, and we sit down and have a beer.

This isn't even all of it. I skipped some of the other insults, like one of the beers on the plane getting kicked off the seat-back tray and falling into Pants's lap, and the same partial beer getting somehow kicked out of the seat pocket and dousing several toys. When I went back onto our old flight to get our carryons, after we got booked onto the new flight, there were several people waiting to get off that weren't being allowed off by the flight crew, who apparently had gotten a different story than the gate crew.

And the reason the flight got canceled completely? Not because they couldn't fix it. The pilots were at the end of their "flight day", meaning they had started too early to complete the late flight, according to federal regulations. Which is all fine and everything, you don't want a pilot falling asleep on you, but didn't they know that an hour before? When they announced it was going to take an hour to fix the plane?

Friday, September 07, 2007

And now for the lowlights...

The day after our trip to Maine, someone told me something that might have helped me through our week of "vacation." She said, "Well, it's not really a vacation, is it? It's an experience for the children."

Meimei teethed like a fiend the entire week and popped three teeth the day after we got home. Fun. She was medicated most of the week and it still wasn't even really enough.

Meimei also decided she was terrified of the large, claw-foot bathtub, as well as the playpen she was supposed to sleep in. So she screamed through two baths and ended up in the sink. And the bed? Oh, the bed.

We folded up the playpen after two nights of Meimei sleeping with us anyway and put a mattress on the floor. But you can't just put her on the mattress and close the door like dropping her in the crib at home - she's not contained. So she needed to be asleep before we left her in bed. And every night and before every nap, we had to figure out how to get her to sleep. This child who is used to sleeping alone and falling asleep alone, this 20-lb. toddler who is strong as hell, had to be rocked and walked and jiggled and patted to sleep every night. By the end I could do it in about 20 minutes, but there were several nights when it took hours. HOURS.

We take for granted our setup at home. We have baby gates on the steps and the hallway and keep the children mostly contained in the kitchen, living, and dining area, which is mostly baby-proof and toy-filled and safe. We can relax. But elsewhere, there is no relaxing. Everyone was terrified that Kitten was going to fall down the stairs because they were wood and sharp, so of course, this is all Kitten wanted to do - up and down and up and down. Until she discovered the old-style screen door that you just push open and it slams back shut with a very satisfying smack! But when it was tired time, fingers and toes and a couple of heads get slammed in the screen door, but this is what we want to do.

And little sister wants to follow where big sister goes, so although Meimei has no access to stairs and we don't think she can do them, she pops right up the two steps to the kitchen and we spend the rest of the week jumping up out of chairs every three microseconds to ensure she doesn't fall down the steps. Because the going down is much more advanced than the going up. And the screen porch has several rockers, which are apparently bad for little crawling fingers, and many decorative shells and authentic fishing boat paraphernalia, all of which must be placed on the tongue for the optimal viewing. So the screen porch was off-limits to Meimei. Plus, the screen door kept getting slammed on her, so it was a bad experience for all.

In Maine, I am used to hanging out, reading, shopping, napping, just being quiet and letting the world go by. But this is not so much fun for 1 and 2 year olds. On day 3, they have thoroughly explored the grounds we have provided them and are ready to move on. But we don't realize this for at least another day, so things start to get a little dicey. Eventually we figure out they are getting a bit stir crazy and we have to get them out and running - hence the beach. See previous post.

And then the flight. Egad, the flight home. That is another post altogether.

I will not be sending Northwest a Christmas card.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thug Life

I didn't have to use my AK - I must say it was a good day.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Highlights from vacation

"I eyes you!" Translation: I've got my eyes on you, said with two fingers stuck into one eye.

Meimei pushing off the table with her feet and tipping the entire chair she was strapped to backwards, landing on the floor. Miraculously, she didn't smash her head on the ginormous wood beam or through the pane of non-safety glass she barely cleared, and succeeded in merely scaring the crap out of herself.

Playing in the ocean. Kitten played the run-away-and-scream game with the waves and we couldn't keep Meimei away from the water - she kept crawling back to the surf.

A free pink and purple Jeep ride-on, found at the dump and brought back to the cabin for Kitten to enjoy on the deck. "Truck!"

A new book, "That's Not My Pony", with touchy-feely stuff on each page.

Stacking cups. Fun for all, even on the beach!

I'll cover the lowlights another time.