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It’s been a long, long while since I’ve done a randomosity post. But random topics still burble to the surface, so let’s get them all out in the open.

Fifty-one weeks of the year, I really enjoy living on this particular street, in this particular house. We live on a quiet cul-de-sac that is close but not too close to a main intersection in an urban-leaning suburb of a mid-size city. I feel like we get the neighborhoody aspects of living in the suburbs, but have plenty of businesses and restaurants and ice cream shops nearby. And it’s quiet. I realize I said that one sentence back, but it’s important. There’s not a huge amount of action, beyond the teenagers playing basketball across the street. The traffic is minimal.

But one week of the year, a business that resides (lives? exists?) on an adjoining street holds an event that draws people from near and far. So for the duration of the event – not quite a week, but close enough that I will count it as a full week, for complaining’s sake – our street is busy. Lots of cars driving down it, to check out the event. Or to try to leave the event, without realizing that our street has no outlet. Or to park on the side of the street before hiking back to the event venue. The event lasts late into the evening, so there are cars driving and people talking excitedly and people beeping their horns as they engage their remote locks well past ten. Is event starting to look a little wacko, as words go, or is it just me? By day two, I begin to go crazy. Carla is a fairly deep sleeper, but I get that crazed newborn-parent feel of, SHHHH, you are being TOO LOUD, there is a BABY SLEEPING, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I don’t like it, is what I’m saying. It makes me cranky. It makes me feel wary of talking to anyone while we’re outside, which we are a lot at this time of year. It makes me double and triple check the locks on the doors (because people heading to the event are super likely to be burglars/murderers) (no). It makes me feel like whispering and ducking past windows and uncomfortably aware of the proximity of my bedroom to the street.

I will be glad when this year’s event ends.

 

We have a new addition to our household. A new baby deer. Its mother leaves it in a snug little bundle of white spots between our deck and the azalea bushes.

Fawn 1

Baby deer!

This year, Carla spotted the fawn first. And, being a child who loves animals with a passion that makes her literally vibrate with the desire to pet and hug and adopt, she cannot stop thinking about the fawn. This has made it rather difficult to enjoy our backyard; she is constantly hopping out of her seat at lunch or dinner to go peek at the fawn. Or, instead of playing in the yard, she is peeking at the fawn. Or, instead of doing anything at all other than peeking at the fawn, she is peeking at the fawn.

She wants to show it a pinecone. (It won’t care.) She wants to share her ham with it. (No.) She wants to bring it up on the deck to show it an ant that is crawling as quickly away from Carla as its legs can carry it. (No.)

We have had lots of conversations about deer being wild animals, and being especially careful around baby animals, because their mothers will be protective. And how even though deer are so pretty and docile looking, they can bite and kick.

This has sunk in a bit further in some areas than others; Carla still wants to pet the fawn (no; wild animal). But she refuses to go into the backyard by herself just in case the mommy deer is there and wants to bite her or kick her or lick her (okay, good point; also it probably won’t lick you).

I don’t know why I continue to be disgruntled by the presence of baby deer in our yard. This has happened… every year since we’ve lived here? Our yard is a deer daycare. But each year, I feel annoyed at the mother deer for just abandoning her baby in my yard, where I then feel obligated to care for it. (I mean, insofar as “care for it” means peeking at it occasionally, keeping Carla away from it, and fretting about its safety.)

And I DO fret about it! We were moving some deck furniture around the other day, on the very deck against which the fawn was snuggled, and it was making a tremendous racket, and I commented to my husband that I hoped it wasn’t terrifying the poor creature. When the lawn service people arrived, I ran around in a panic, trying to replace my pajamas with clothes so that I could go out and warn them to stay away from the fawn’s azalea hidey-hole. We are having our deck refinished in a few weeks, and I am really hopeful that the fawn’s mother decides to take her on a field trip somewhere else so that the sanders and scrapers don’t scare the poor thing out of its spots.

Part of me feels so annoyed at the mother deer, for not picking a safer location to stow her offspring. But I suppose it is an urban deer, and this probably feels a whole lot safer than the corner of a busy intersection or the back of a schoolyard playground. And I suppose the fawn could always complain to its mother about the creature with the curly blond fur who keeps poking its face over the side of deck and waving pinecones at it, and suggest that they find a new daycare center.

Fawn 2

“Please stop peeking at me. You are making me very nervous/annoyed/camera shy.” – Fawn

As long as we’re talking about the backyard, we did get a playset. I loved all the comments and ideas, especially the suggestion to turn our weed patch into a beautiful garden (believe me! I would LOVE that!). Of course, being me, I continued to obsessively research and read reviews and bother people with questions. In the end, we concluded that a playset is the right decision for us. Time will tell, I suppose. To tell you the truth, I think the playset is really for ME. It will be so much more convenient to throw Carla in the backyard than to schlep her to a playground when she is overcome by the need to swing. And we can host playdates MUCH more comfortably if there is something for the kids to do outside. So I’M excited about it.

 

I’ve been on the hunt for a few very specific items of clothing lately. One is The Perfect Skirt, for which I continue searching. Let us take a gauzy look through time at one I had in college: white, a lineny blend, cut just above the knee, a-line. THAT is the skirt I am looking for. It was the ideal cut/shape for my shape/cut. It was a nice summery, neutral color. It was a casual material, which I am REALLY interested in; I have plenty of This Would Be Fine at the Office kinds of dresses/skirts; I really want some This Is Cute But Totally Casual Enough for the Playground or Library Story Time options. But I have yet to find it. I bought this skirt from Nordstrom, and despite being adorable in the online pictures, it was NOT The Perfect Skirt and I have since returned it.

Nordstrom skirt

Photo from Nordstrom.com

Another item I am seeking, in bulk, perhaps, is Rear-End-Covering Shirts. I already have a few that are dressier, so right now I am looking for casual options. I have found some good ones, I think: this one from Athleta,

Rear end shirt Athleta

Photo from Athleta.com

…and this one from Loft. (I got the Loft version for, I think, $12. But now they are on sale for two for $18!)

Rear end shirt loft

Photo from Loft.com

But I find myself wanting moremoremore because a) I enjoy wearing leggings and b) my rear end is self-conscious. My trouble though is that shirts that seem to fit the bill either don’t actually cover my rear end (I am more generous in the backyard than 99% of the models modeling the “rear-end-covering” shirts), or they make me feel shlubby. I want casual-but-put-together, not rolled-out-of-bed-and-grabbed-my-husband’s-undergarment-off-the-floor. I guess a more accurate way to describe it is that I like my tops to have some shape to them. Yet, like The Perfect Skirt and The Perfect Jeans, it seems really hard to find something matching my specifications. So I’m snapping them up when I come across them.

 

The room mother for Carla’s preschool class collected money for a year-end gift for her teachers. The gifts were lovely and generous, and I was delighted to not have to come up with ideas for something her teachers would like and not throw away. But when Carla and I were leaving her classroom on the last day, one of the other parents brought in two large bags from a fancy store and handed one to each of Carla’s teachers.

Listen, Carla and I wrote personal messages in cards for each of her teachers. They went above and beyond for us this year, in many ways, and I wanted to express my gratitude in words in addition to submitting some cash to the group gift. So I acknowledge that maybe these other parents felt similarly, and wanted to really show the teachers how grateful they were.

Or, of course, maybe they didn’t participate in the group gift. Or maybe their love language is Gift Giving. Or maybe other justifying thoughts I can’t come up with.

My worry, of course, is that this is What You Do; you give money to the room mother for the group gift, and then you ALSO buy a personal gift for each teacher. Which seems ridiculous, but what do I know? So many tiny, unimportant-in-the-greater-scheme-of-things stresses related to Having a Child in School! I had no idea!

My desktop anthurium – which you may recall was purchased purely because I was looking for a red lamp – for accent moreso than for light – and couldn’t find one – has lost its… well, I suppose they are flowers? The red pretty rooster-face looking portions of the plant. There were two to begin with, and one darkened and crumpled a few months ago, and now the second is going the same way. I don’t know anything about anthuria, outside of the fact that I fed them with ice cubes. Well, I guess I did a rather poor job of even doing that, considering that they have chosen death over waiting to see if I will remember to ice them each week. So I have no idea if they will flower again, in time… or if I need to find another one. One of the things that made it so clear I needed to buy THIS anthurium was that it came in such a lovely bright red vase. I neither want to buy a new red-vased anthurium nor replant an anthurium in this vase. So I suppose I will stare hopefully at my remaining anthurium leaves and try to remember the weekly icing.

1 Anthurium

Photo from gardenknowhow.com

That’s it for now, Internet. What’s up with you?

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What is it about my brain that not only magnifies the awkwardness in a perfectly innocuous situation, but also dwells on it, for days afterward?

Well, that is what blogs are for, is it not?

I was at my favorite haunt, the grocery store, waiting at the deli for the lone deli slicer staff person to finish wrapping up another shopper’s Muenster. Carla was in school; it was early on a weekday, and the store was calm and nearly empty. The deli person asked what I needed, and I said “one third pound of honey ham, shaved please.”

And she poked around in the deli case, and said, “I have to go to the back to get a ham for you.”

Well, that was unusual. It took me a beat to recover, but then I tried to call after her because 1) I was sure she had misheard me and thought maybe I said some other ham; she hadn’t repeated “honey ham” and, more importantly and less revealing of the depth of my insecurities, 2) I could see an entire honey ham, right there in the case.

Well, of course I wondered whether maybe that was a display only honey ham. But, on the off chance it wasn’t, I didn’t want her to make a separate trip to the back.

But she had stopped just on the other side of the deli, and she was talking to someone anyway in a friendly fashion, so I called out, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” trying to get her attention.

A second deli person popped up out of nowhere and said, “Can I help you?” And I said, “The other woman was helping me, she said she had to go to the back to get a new honey ham, and I just wanted her to know that there’s a honey ham right here.”

But she interrupted me and said, “We have honey ham right here.” As though I were the one who had sent her colleague on such a frivolous errand.

“I know,” I said, smiling in a way I hoped conveyed that I was both conscious and conscientious, “I just wanted to let her know, so she didn’t have to run to the back for a honey ham when there is already one right here.”

And the woman said, “Yes, we have honey ham right here.” And blinked at me expectantly, awaiting, no doubt, my next nonsensical utterings. So now I’m struggling with wanting her to understand what I am saying and stop looking at me like I am asking her repeatedly whether I have a lobster attached to my face, but also maybe thinking she just didn’t hear me, but also not wanting to repeat myself a THIRD time, but also really wanting her to know the situation. Think of her colleague, seeking an unnecessary ham!

(The colleague was still chatting with her friend, which seemed to me a little callous; for all she knew, I was still standing there, anxiously awaiting ham.)

So I gave the second woman my order, and she grabbed some pre-cut (NOT shaved) ham from the case and then, perplexingly, said, “It’s only $1.99. Do you want more?”

Now, this ham is usually $6.99 a pound or something – I admit to not paying that much attention because a) I buy it infrequently and b) it’s really the only ham Carla eats, so I’m going to buy it anyway; it’s only a third of a pound – which is to say that I didn’t think she was referring to the per-pound cost of the ham. There’s a big board of daily specials on the counter, and the honey ham was not listed among them; I looked; it’s nice to know that you are being thrifty even if you aren’t doing so on purpose. I assumed that she was saying that my third of a pound was ringing up as $1.99, which, great. Sounds good. Why mention it at this point in the interaction?

So I said something brilliant, like, “I’m sorry?”

And she shook the ham at me and said, “It’s only $1.99. Do you want MORE HAM?”

Still not grasping anything really – I mean, how could I not still be reeling from the mistakenly absent ham? and the woman poised to – after her conversation, clearly – go fetch another? – I shook my head and said no thank you.

(Aside: If I need a third of a pound of ham, having it be less expensive doesn’t make me magically need more ham. I mean, I guess if I really wanted a POUND of ham, but knew that $6.99 wasn’t in my budget, then knowing it was $1.99 per pound might change the amount I would get. I don’t know. It’s like when you go to Dairy Queen, and you order a small slushie, and they say, “Drinks are half price between 2:00 and 4:00, do you want to get a large?” Well, no. I want a small. And I’m saving money because the small is also half price. If I get a larger size, the price also increases. A $3 small at half price is still cheaper than $5 large at half price. And yes, I get that I could be getting more for the original price I intended on paying but it still all strikes me as ODD. WHATEVER. I am sure it is a legitimate marketing strategy that works or it wouldn’t be so prevalent.)

We are back to me, rejecting the extra ham.

The deli person shrugged at me in a kind of “suit yourself” manner, and I took my ham and pointed to the other staff member – still chatting, I mean, the entire interaction took maybe 45 (interminable) seconds, but still – and said, “Will you let her know a) you took care of me and b) that she doesn’t need to go to the back for a whole new honey ham?”

And the second deli person turned to her colleague (who had just at that moment finally bid adieu to her long lost twin sister or the queen or whomever she was talking to all that time) and said, “Hey, there’s already honey ham in the case.” And the first woman laughed and shook her head and went to help some other poor ham-needing sap.

The end.

But no, not the end, because I am still thinking about it.

I cannot properly express to you how NEEDLESSLY and RIDICULOUSLY flustered I got during the course of this interaction!

And WHY, in the name of all the pigs who so graciously gave their lives for our deli needs, am I STILL THINKING about it, literally weeks later?

WHY? Who CARES? It’s just HAM.

It felt SO AWKWARD. To be misunderstood. To be misheard. To see a misapprehension occurring, and to be incapable of preventing it. To instead be misheard again and misinterpreted as someone lacking adequate brain function. To leave, finally, with ham that was not shaved as you wanted. At least it was only 66 cents. For the ham. The therapy this incident may require will likely cost much more.

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Towel Analogy Epiphany

Every time I wash the towels, I do it first thing in the morning, as I am leaving the house. I grab the towels in the bathroom I share with my husband, which includes a “bath mat” (which seems to me just to be a towel with a different name) and a hand towel alongside the three bath towels, then I grab the towel, bath mat, and hand towel from Carla’s bathroom, then I grab the hand towel from the half-bath downstairs, and the two dishtowels that hang above the sink. I throw everything into either an appropriate laundry bin or into the actual washing machine, set it to wash, and that’s that.

For many years, I did this as I was rushing out the door to work. Usually, Towel Day is a Monday. And Mondays my husband tries to take Carla to daycare. (He doesn’t do procedures Mondays, so his schedule begins later than it does most days.) But I would take those extra minutes of not dropping Carla off to get to work early, in hopes of making up for the days when daycare drop-off went horribly and I got to work a few minutes late.

What I’m saying is, is that I would REMOVE all the towels and begin the washing process. But that was where it ended. Later that evening, if I got to the bathroom first, I’d replace the towels. But sometimes I wouldn’t get there first, and instead it was my husband who would go to wash his hands or bathe our daughter or whatever, and find that all the towels were missing.

My husband has long grumbled about this. Why isn’t there a hand towel in the bathroom? Where is the bath mat? Etc etc etc.

And I have long grumbled back at him: You are perfectly capable of going into the linen closet and getting a fresh towel.

Internet, I went so far as to tell him to GET OVER IT the last time we exchanged grumbles on the subject!

And then I had An Epiphany!

The Missing Bath Towels are to my husband what Unreplaced Toilet Paper/Paper Towels are to me!

Oh, Internet. I am so ashamed! All these years, and I was metaphorically using the last of the toilet paper and leaving an empty cardboard tube for him to find!

And you can bet your sweet patoot that I would NOT be okay with “getting over it” if he left me empty paper towel and toilet paper holders every two weeks for years on end.

Excuse me, as I must prostrate myself at his feet and commence groveling.

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Swistle did a post today on her favorite mugs. A post I found fascinating, and so I have followed suit and am posting about MY favorite mugs.

(Sidebar: I was JUST THINKING about writing a post about my favorite mug this morning! Because of a different Swistle post, about using the good stuff. Because I keep worrying that my favorite mug is nearing the end of its life, and yet I keep using it because I love it. NOT using it would keep it safe, but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.)

Back to the NEW Swistle-based topic.

My favorites are “favorites” based on two criteria: 1. Sentimentality and 2. Size.

Here is the line up, with “most favorite” on the far left and “regular mug for comparison” on the far right.

IMG_3239.jpg

Mug 1: This is my all-time favorite mug. Every time it is dirty, I feel a little pang of wishing I could use it. (The pang isn’t painful enough to prompt me to hand wash it, though.) It is my husband’s, if we’re being technical; everyone in his major at college got a mug like this. All of his classmates’ names appear on the back side of the mug. It’s fun to point out my husband’s name to my daughter. The mug holds about 2 and 1/8 cups of tea-with-milk. I like it because it reminds me of college and my husband, and meeting my husband. And plus there are the names of several old college friends on it, too. But I also like it because it holds AMPLE tea for beginning my day, and because it’s well-proportioned: the handle is a good size, the mug is nice and tall. Love it.

Mug 2: This is my next favorite mug because it has pictures of my daughter on it. When she was not even six months old. So tiny! Plus, my husband “made” the mug for me (via one of those upload-your-photos websites; he’s not a secret potter), which makes it additionally special. It holds only about 1 and 3/4 cups of tea-with-milk, but that’s adequate. The enamel? paint? glaze? of the mug is wearing away from the interior, which makes me a little concerned that I’m ingesting dangerous compounds each morning, but not concerned enough to retire the mug.

Mug 3: This is my next favorite mug because my husband got it for me for Christmas one year, and also because it’s HUGE. It holds nearly 2 and 1/2 cups of tea-with-milk. My one criticism is that it’s a little unweidly: the body of the mug is so big and squat and round that I feel slightly in danger of dropping it. And in fact I slosh tea out of this mug at a far greater rate than I do out of any other.

Mug 4: This is my backup mug. It holds about 1 and 3/4 cups of tea-with-milk, which is fine but not great. It’s a good proportion. But there’s nothing terribly sentimental about it for me. Once again, it technically belongs to my husband; it was his souvenir from Zurich. But he doesn’t use it so I do.

Mug 5: This is one of the mugs that goes with our everyday china. It holds about 1 and 1/4 cups of liquid. I NEVER use these mugs. My husband does, and so do guests when we (rarely) have them. But it’s a little ridiculous that we have TWELVE of them. Oh well.

I will be CRUSHED when Mug 1 and Mug 2 break or disintegrate. I love them more than seems natural, really.

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Before today, I would have said without hesitation that a wad of Kleenex is the worst possible thing you can run through the washing machine.

Now, I know for a fact that a pull-up is much much MUCH much worse.

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Toddler Lunches

We recently switched daycares. One of the biggest changes that came along with the switch was the food situation. Our previous daycare provided breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack. Our new daycare provides morning snack and afternoon snack.

This has been… a trying change.

For one thing, I now have to feed Carla breakfast before school rather than plopping her in the car directly (exaggeration) from bed. This is a lengthy process.

For another, I now have to prepare (and remember to take) Carla’s lunch each day.

This has more than doubled the “what in the hot deviled ham am I going to feed this child” angst that I was already experiencing daily, at dinnertime.

I say more than doubled rather than tripled because breakfast isn’t terrible. It’s not great. But Carla seems happy eating the same/similar things almost every day. So I don’t have to think much beyond whether I am microwaving French toast sticks or waffles or pancakes, and which fruit to pair them with. And Carla is at the age where she has and expresses her own opinions, which helps. If she wants to consume an entire box of French toast sticks in a week, fine. Who am I to object.

But the lunches. THE LUNCHES. Trying to come up with well-balanced, interesting, tasty lunches is tedious and irritating – and it also compromises my dinner plans, because a lot of the foods are interchangeable. I mean, I have some sort of bias (why?) against lunch meat at suppertime, but I have no qualms about giving Carla meatballs for lunch.

In the weeks leading up to the Big Daycare Switch, I tried desperately to research Toddler Lunch Ideas. But either I was looking in the wrong places, or the only reasonable choices are bento boxes filled with cheese flowers and sandwiches that look like bunnies.

What I REALLY want is a website that says, “a typical two year old requires two ounces of protein, three ounces of vegetables, and one ounce each of carbs and healthy fats” or WHATEVER so that I can adhere to that. Because I just want to give her a nutritious, well-balanced lunch that isn’t too much or too little. I constantly suffer from feeling like I am either over- or under-feeding her, like she’s a goldfish or something. But I just don’t know!

(And then that dips me into the pool of Daycare Despair, and the feeling – totally wrong! and irrational! – that I am a bad mother because I work instead of staying home with her. And if I stayed home with her, I would know that she requires X amount of food to feel full and, by the way, she never eats cucumbers.)

(Daycare Despair is WHOLLY ridiculous, by the way. While acknowledging that it is not right for everyone, daycare is the right choice for our family. It is good for our child. She is happy and well cared for and stimulated – as much as any child who stays home with a parent.  But even though I know this… and even though I would say so to any friend or acquaintance – with Firm Certainty… it still creeps up now and again.)

Let us shake off those unwelcome droplets and return to the problem at hand.

Based on all those websites with the adorable toddler lunches, I bought some little cookie-cutter things and a little bento box and a super cute lunchbox and got ready to meal plan the crap out of my toddler’s lunches.

I created a spreadsheet, as one does, and set up columns headed “protein, veggie, fruit, carb, treat.” Here is what it looked like:

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.52.47 PM

The spreadsheet lasted three weeks.

Which! To be fair! That is fifteen lunches! It felt like A Billion.

But after that, I just had to wing it. Sometimes Carla gets leftovers. Sometimes she gets a Smucker’s Uncrustable sandwich. Sometimes she gets a Lunchable. Sometimes I freeze a pouch of yogurt overnight and throw that in on top of her lunch and she eats a semi-frozen yogurt with her lunch. And if I buy freaking snap peas for her for one lunch, I’m not going to throw the rest of them away. So she may get the same thing for a couple of lunches in the same week.

Sometimes I DO buy a nice thick slice of ham and cut it into cat and dolphin shapes. Sometimes I spring for the fancy pre-rolled salami-and-mozzarella twirls. When I make her a sandwich from scratch, I often cut it into the shape of a star. Occasionally, she gets a tiny container of Swedish Fish or fruit snacks or gummy bears. I try to make it fun and interesting enough that boredom isn’t preventing her from eating.

Of course, Other Things could be preventing her from eating. And, in fact, I still have no idea how much she eats. We get a report each day from her teachers, and they will say whether she ate “most” or “all” or “some” of her food, but I don’t really know what “most” or “some” means. And while at home, Carla continues to eat mainly nothing. So far she seems to have plenty of energy, she keeps growing, and none of her teachers have called child protective services, so I’m going to say that we’re doing okay.

I am always open to new ideas. But keep in mind that they should be super easy to prepare, and likely that she will try them. That second bit is tricky to determine. Some Pinterest post somewhere recommended these little egg “muffins” – that are just like scrambled eggs, but in a muffin shape. Carla has on occasion eaten scrambled eggs, and she seems to like cupcake shaped things, so I thought this was a shoe-in. But no. She licked the top of one muffin and that was it.

My mom had a bunch of really fresh and creative ideas… but they were all things I don’t normally eat, and so made me nervous. Like, how can I prepare chicken salad properly if I don’t know what it should taste like (and nor do I want to know)?

And easy to prepare is really important. This is why a lot of her meals include a cup of diced peaches or pre-sliced apples or peanut-butter-filled pretzels. You just put them into a little dish and you’re good to go.

But man. If I’m bored of preparing the food, I wonder how boring it is to EAT it?!?!

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I don’t even remember what The Thing was, now. It was something ridiculous. Like, tomato sauce. We have these shared shopping lists on our phones: one for the grocery store, one for Target, one for Costco. And my husband was going to Target that very day, so I put “tomato sauce” on the Target list.

When he came home, I helped put the shopping away. No tomato sauce.

“Oh no!” I lamented. “You forgot the tomato sauce!”

“No, I didn’t,” he said.

I looked at him, blinking. “. . .”

Him: “We don’t get tomato sauce at Target.”

Me: “I know we don’t usually get tomato sauce at Target. But… I put it on the list.”

Him: “But we don’t get it at Target. It’s less expensive at the grocery store.”

Me: “But… you weren’t going to the grocery store today. And I need the tomato sauce tonight. And I PUT it on the LIST.”

Him: “But we Don’t. Get. Tomato sauce. At Target.”

Me: Primal scream.

How..? How can something so perfectly logical to one half of a couple – a couple who have been together FIFTEEN YEARS and who know each other QUITE WELL – be so completely illogical to the other? HOW WILL WE SURVIVE?!?!

(At least now I know I will have to include “Special dispensation” or “One-time exception to the precise location of the typical purchase of this item” should I need The Thing at Target in future. Marriage: A Perpetual Learning Experience.)

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