Friday, April 22, 2011

A Yucky Little House Guest

(If only they were this cute in real life!)

I couldn't decide if I wanted to fess up to this, but, since nothing else of interest happened today, and I've been ignoring my blog for far too long, I will go ahead and write about it.  It appears we have a mouse problem.  Ew.  We're not dirty people (or at least I'M not dirty people, the stepsons are another matter) and my house is clean and free of garbage, yet it appears that some little mice decided to move in this winter.  Gross.  Well, actually, they're really cute, but they're vermin, and that's still gross.

After only a few minutes at home Wednesday night, having returned from the wake later than expected, something started banging around upstairs.  Since we threaten DEATH to anything that attempts to wake up the sleeping baby, we quickly tracked down the culprit: Scout the cat.  She came thundering down the stairs, with a mouse, which she promptly let loose in the dining room.  Don and I squealed.  (sorry Don, you squealed)  We quickly went into "What-the-hell-do-I-do-now" mode and rounded up bowls and flashlights to track the nasty thing down.  The cat, aided by the dog, chased it into the heat strip, and then chased it behind the bookcase.  And there it sat.  So Don moved the bookcase, slowly, and expected me to catch the little bugger in my bowl.  And I'm proud to say that I "manned" up and caught the little guy.  Unfortunately my aim was off a smidge and I ended up smashing him in the head when I put the bowl down.  Ooops.  It didn't survive.

Completely grossed out, we vowed to pick up some traps and catch any stragglers.  Only, we got sidetracked Thursday by the funeral and forgot to pick up some traps.  I did remember though, this afternoon, when another mouse poked its head out from under the closet door.  Ew, again.  This time, however, I was home with just Ben.  And Ben thought this afternoon would be the BEST time to play next to the closet door, and nowhere else.  Every time I moved him away he would throw a temper tantrum scaring the mouse I was trying to catch in my bowl back into the closet.  Since Ben wouldn't leave me alone to catch the mouse, and I didn't want the mouse to run out of the closet and hide somewhere else, I enlisted the help of Scout the cat.  I threw her in the closet with the mouse.  Problem solved.  Every time the mouse went near the door, Scout hissed and scared it back into the depths of the closet.  When Don finally made it home from work, (with mouse traps!) he cleaned out the closet, caught the mouse in the bowl (without killing it) and took it out to the woods.

Success!  Now we just need to place the traps and hope any other little intruders find their way there, and not into my kitchen!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cancer Blows

I've known this day would come eventually, and I've given this blog post some thought.  There is no easy way to say goodbye to a friend, but hopefully, I can do him justice today.

Today the world has one less lawyer in it.  (Insert hilarious lawyer joke here)  Despite the fact that he was a lawyer, David really was a great guy.  And funny.  Always so damn funny.  When I think about David now, it is his giggle that I remember the most.  He laughed like a little girl at the things he found truly amusing.  Even from my desk at the opposite end of the office, I would hear him giggle and have to chuckle at him.  He drank a two liter of soda on a bet, to see if he could drink it in one chug.  He couldn't.  He'd try to best Scott at eating challenges.  Again, he couldn't.  He'd leave prank voicemail messages on the office phones, though the phones had caller-id, so it was never much of a prank.  David was funniest, however, when no one could tell if he was being funny.  Countless times he would leave the room, and we would all be scratching our heads.  Was he serious about that?  Did that really happen?  Does he really watch Housewives of Orange County?  His offbeat sense of humor made him David.

And when he found out he had cancer his sense of humor never left him.  Nor did his work ethic.  He put all of us to shame by showing up to work day after day while going through chemo.  How could you justify staying home with a stuffy nose when David was there fresh out of chemo?  He was dealt a bad hand with this cancer, but, thanks to a brief addiction to online poker, he had a great poker face and played his hand for as long as he could.  My husband and I will both miss him, as I know many, many others will as well.  And while my heart breaks for all he will be missing out on, there are no words for how sad I am that his two young children will be missing out on him. 

You'll be missed DP!

And now, some hilarious (or perhaps just really stupid) lawyer jokes in David's honor:

Why do pharmaceutical company laboratories now use lawyers rather than lab rats for testing?
. . . Lab personnel don't get as emotionally attached to them.
. . . Lawyers do things rats won't.

. . . Some people actually LIKE rats.

What do lawyers and bullfrogs have in common?
. . . Both have a big head that consists mainly of mouth.

What do you get when you run an "honest lawyer" contest?
. . . No winners.

Why does California have the most lawyers and New Jersey the most toxic waste dumps?
. . . New Jersey had first choice!

Changing lawyers is like moving to a different deck chair on the Titanic.

How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?
His lips are moving.

Have you heard about the lawyers’ word processor?
No matter what font you select, everything comes out in fine print.


Goodbye David

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You Can Lead a Horse to Water...But Then What?

Some days I would like nothing more than to throw my hands in the air and shout I give up!!!  Raising a baby is difficult, time consuming and trying, but compared to raising teenagers, it's a walk in the park.  How do you instill motivation in someone that does not want to be motivated?  Punishment, rewards, pleading, begging, bribing, nothing seems to work.  I know, I know, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.  But then what?  You just stand there watching the damn horse dehydrate?  What if the horse doesn't drink, what if it doesn't choose to drink?  Do you just let it die and say, I guess it was too stupid?  I think not.

It would be so much easier to just let the boys worry about their school work and the repercussions it will have on their futures.  I suppose they would eventually learn that education is indeed important, much like water to the stubborn horse, but I would prefer they realized that before it's too late.  Last night I thought we had gotten through to the youngest one, finally, when he said that he realized his homework is helping him make sense of things he has been learning in school.  Yes, we said, that is the point of homework.  Not to torture you, but to help you grasp the lessons you've been learning.  Sadly though, I think the realization is still not enough.

It saddens me to think about how both these boys see school as torture, homework being the primary device of inflicting such torment.  I loved school.  I still love it.  And I can't remember ever setting a poor example for them when it comes to school.  We always valued school work, praised the good grades and hard work, and encouraged them to try harder when things weren't so good.  But not once do I recall saying, it doesn't matter, we don't care, or don't bother with that.  So where oh where did this mindset come from that school doesn't matter, that ignoring the assignments you don't like is acceptable?  How did this happen?  How did this happen on my watch?

I could give up on them, very easily.  They aren't my children, they are my stepsons.  I've seen it done by people I thought knew better.  I could just stop caring, stop asking, stop helping.  But I find that I just don't have it in me to give up on them.  How could I take pride in their futures if I gave up on them when things got difficult?  And have no doubt, they both have bright futures ahead of them, ones that I know I will be proud of.  So I will patiently remain, scooping handfuls of water into that damn horse's mouth so it doesn't die of thirst, waiting for the day it finally lifts its head and decides to drink.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Very Big Deal

This weekend a very important event happened:  My car hit 250,000 miles. 

(Ok, maybe it's not THAT big an event.)  I'd been waiting for this to happen for months.  It's not just the excitement of watching all the little numbers flip over, although that is really cool to watch, it's the relationship I've had with my car for the past nine years.  Nine years!  That's a long time to own the same car!  I've had my car longer than I've been with my husband!  Sure, I've had my moments of frustration with it, like when the entire exhaust line fell off when I was driving home from work and when both back door handles completely stopped working last summer, but overall, I've been really happy with good ol' Car Car.  She's good on gas, in her prime she was getting 37+ miles per gallon, though she's currently acting like a little fuel hog at the moment and can barely make it to 32 mpg (I'm sure I'm overdue on some sort of maintenance).  She's held up to the daily trips to Portland when I worked in the city, numerous boat rides over to the island, and even a fender bender (at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, not me!).  Sure, she's getting rusty, and she purrs less like a kitten and more like an asthmatic bull dog, but she gets me from point A to point B with little more than a sputtering cough.  How can you ask for more from a dear old friend like that? 

Thank you Honda, for making the 1998 Blue/Gray Civic that I call Car Car.

(Yes I know my check engine light is on!  It's been on for the last eight years!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Unpleasant Surprises

There is just way too much that no one tells you about parenting.  One of the first lessons I learned is that while all babies "spit-up" some babies have "reflux" and projectile vomit EVERYWHERE.  No one seems to mention that this projectile vomit will ruin your clothes, stain your furniture and make your rugs smell like old cheese.  Nasty.

No one talks about how your nice tidy living room can go from this:

To This:

In just a matter of minutes when you have a determined one year old.  Sure, we may be told that kids are messy and have a lot of toys, but until you find yourself putting leftovers in tupperware that you pulled out from under the couch and dusted off, you really can't wrap your head around the utter chaos a one year old can create.

And while everyone praises breastfeeding and encourages you to nurse for at least a year, no one seems to mention how much weaning blows.  Sure, I'm super glad I was able to give my son breast milk for 14 months, but I have spent the last week barely able to lift my arms because my boobs are rock hard and agonizingly painful to even think about, never mind have my son throw a temper tantrum against them.  Ow.  Seriously, ow.

And I think you already know my thoughts on teething.  I won't even go there.

Can't wait to see what other little "surprises" I have in store.  I'm sure there are plenty of things that have been glossed over by other mothers.  It's a good thing he's cute...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Love You Diana Gabaldon

Today's blog is going to be devoted to two of my favorite people of all time.  Jamie and Claire.  If only they really existed.  So perhaps it should be devoted to their creator, Diana Gabaldon, the genius behind the Outlander series.  The best series of books ever written, in my humble opinion.

The premise sounds a bit ridiculous, Claire time travels from 1940s post-war England to 1740s Scotland via some magic rocks.  Ok, it sounds really ridiculous.  BUT, once the time travel actually happens you get to meet Jamie Fraser and then the whole book could be about aliens or vampires or bunny rabbits eating jelly beans and you wouldn't care so long as Jamie was there in his kilt with his sword and his Scottish accent.  (sigh)  How can you fall in love with a character in a book that you can't see or hear speak his wonderful accent?  I don't know.  But you can.  I don't know anyone that has read these books that hasn't fallen madly in love with Jamie Fraser.

But I think I'm selling Claire a bit short.  Sure, I'm jealous of her, since she is married to Jamie Fraser and, well, she exists in the fictional world with him while I, sadly, do not.  But, Claire is an amazing woman.  She's hilarious, brave, pretty (but not so pretty you want to hate her) and brilliant.  Outlander is told from her perspective and she is an amazing narrator.  I've had dreams in which I actually was Claire, that's how much I admire her.

So it must sound strange that I'm talking about these characters from books as though they were actual people.  That is why Diana Gabaldon is such an amazing writer.  Her characters are so alive, so believable.  Sure, the storyline is pure fiction (dare I say science fiction even?) but the details and the history she includes washes that all out and you are left with just these characters that you wish you could meet.  She's great, her books are great, and Jamie and Claire are great.

Needless to say, if you are looking for some summer reading, I highly recommend you pick up the series.  But let me warn you, there are seven books in the series so far, and only a few are less than a thousand pages.  Unless you read like I do (ignoring everything and everyone until you are done reading) plan on being hooked for several months to a year.  And yes, some of the middle books are a bit slow, but persevere because Jamie and Claire and their story are worth it.

My dream:  Diana Gabaldon will come on a book tour to Portland so I can meet her and tell her I love her, and Jamie, and Claire.  Perhaps the next best thing:  Diana Gabaldon reads my blog.  :)  (A girl can dream!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My New (pathetic) Addiction: Coupons

Oh dear.  I didn't mean for this to happen.  It started so innocently.  Coupons?  Nah, I don't have time for that.  They won't save me that much money anyway, will they?  Then it slowly progressed.  Diaper coupons?  For the generic Target Brand diapers that I prefer to use?  Sure, why not.  I wouldn't mind saving $1.50 on a case of diapers.  But I'm not going to get all caught up in it.  Now I find myself with a copy of the Sunday paper, a giant envelope stuffed with coupons, an extra 20 minutes tacked onto each shopping trip as I try to hunt down some deals and a timer set to record "Extreme Couponing" on my DVR.  It appears I've become addicted.  Addicted to saving money!!!

It's the thrill of the hunt that gets me.  Combining this deal with that coupon, adding in a store coupon to maximize my savings.  It becomes practically free!!  And I've prided myself on not getting so caught up that I find myself with seven tubes of denture paste and twenty jars of olives, just because they were on sale.  Instead, I've bought only things that we've needed or use frequently.  I've saved nearly $100 in the last month with my coupons.  That's a lot of money people!!!  And the thrill at discovering I could combine a $1.50 toothpaste coupon with an in store $1.00 coupon to get a tube of toothpaste for 75 cents....PRICELESS!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Own Open Letter

Today I'm grumpy. It has been a pretty miserable night here and despite the fact that I should be sleeping right now and trying to put this day behind me, I've decided to visit my favorite pissy-mood website: McSweeney's Internet Tendency. There is no mood foul enough that a few "Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond" or "Reviews of New Food" can't fix. And now that I have successfully laughed my way out of this nasty mood, I've decided to attempt writing my own open letter.

An Open Letter to My Son's Teeth

Dear Teeth,

Who would have thought that a few enamel covered nubbins would make me want to dig my eyeballs out with a spoon? Since you have entered our lives I have reached the conclusion that waiting for your arrival is in fact worse than childbirth. And childbirth was pretty damn rough. I did my research, I tried all the teething "tips and tricks." Drops, tablets, pain relievers, ice, wet washcloths, my fingers, carrots and Popsicles. Nothing, absolutely nothing will ease the torment you are insistent on bringing into my son's life, and by proximity, my life. I hate you teeth, I hate you.

We are up all night, walking, rocking, talking and screaming. It is mostly my son doing the screaming, mostly. When you finally decide to make your arrival we delight in the instant peace it brings and the return of my son from the inhuman demon child you created. I overlook the pain you cause my breasts, and I learned quickly not to put my fingers in his mouth anymore. You are sharp, sharp, little devils. And for a while we relax, we sleep, and we forget the torture you put us through. We even think "Hey, maybe another kid would be fun someday." But you invited your little friends, you bastards, and the misery starts again. Bicuspids, canines, incisors, DAMN YOU ALL!!!