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Posts Tagged ‘cleaning’

It snowed last night! Our first Real Snow of the season! Woo hoo! So I’m feeling chatty.

I suppose this is just a regular old Friday randomosity, dressed up in slightly different clothes.

Being a Parent Sometimes Means Forcing Your Kid to Go to School Crying

Hoo boy we had a rough start to the day. Poor Carla woke up on the WRONG side of the bed. And, oh, how I empathize. That feeling of dozens of little angry crabs, skittering all over your skin and clamping their tiny sharp claws into your brain, is so familiar to me, and I have dealt with it hundreds of times over the years and STILL don’t know how to get through it without snapping at my husband and/or feeling wounded by any tiny slight and/or wanting nothing more than to climb back into bed and start over. But for Carla, it’s still a new experience. She just doesn’t GET cranky, and so it’s been a long time since she’s felt this way and she hasn’t yet figured out how to cope.

I tried to be empathetic – validating her feelings, lots of hugs, keeping my own frustration in check (we left the house TWENTY MINUTES LATE) – but matter-of-fact. Being cranky happens, and it feels rotten, and nonetheless we all have to go on with life and do the things we have to do. I tried to suggest some strategies for getting past the yucky feelings. (I tried not to sigh too loudly when she rejected them all.) And then I dropped her off at school, even though she was tearful and upset, and I am hoping hoping hoping that her day only goes up from here.

Okay, despite my anxiety about being That Mom, I sent an email to her teacher just to check on her. (Not sure what I will DO, if her teacher says she is still crying… go get her? That seems like both the Wrong Lesson and the Right Thing to Do.)

Cleaning Before the Cleaner Arrives, Helpful or Ridiculous?

One of the reasons Carla was cranky (I think) is because I gave her a Hard Choice this morning. She was supposed to tidy her bedroom and her bathroom last night, in preparation for the housecleaner. I reminded her twice. I asked her whether she’d done it, and she said yes. But then, well after she was asleep for the night, I had to go into her bathroom for something and discovered that she had NOT tidied the bathroom. The opposite, in fact: sodden Barbies lying facedown on the bath mat, a full Barbie swimming pool in the tub, toy catalog on the counter, hair ties and rocks (yes, rocks) on the floor, pajamas wadded up in the corner. I know that some people who have housecleaners believe that the housecleaner can handle stuff like this. And I’m sure our very capable housecleaner could. But it is my view that time spent tidying – especially tidying away toys and things whose homes you may not be aware of – takes precious time away from the CLEANING. For me, the value of the housecleaning is in the scrubbing of the toilet and the scouring of the bathtub and the mopping of the floor. Some people in our house may disagree but I FIRMLY AGREE with myself on this point. So Carla’s bathroom door has been shut tight and the housecleaner has been instructed to stay out, and Carla will be getting some hands-on experience with what I mean by TIDYING vs CLEANING because she will be doing both.

Okay, so I also gave the microwave a quick swipe (there was a Ham Incident the other day, which I mostly took care of at the time, but exploded ham bits are surprisingly evasive) and wiped down the stove top (I haven’t even MADE anything on the stove lately, WHY was it so FILTHY?) before our housecleaner arrived because I don’t want her to think we are total pigs.

Stepping Out on Your True Love: Will It Rekindle the Fire, or Cause the Relationship to Implode?

The thing I REALLY wanted to discuss with you, before all the morning’s crankiness and associated anxieties derailed me, is that I have had a Startling Revelation. I think I am growing weary of my one true love: tea.

I hope you took that paragraph break to allow the magnitude of this revelation to sink in. Because it has taken me a few weeks to come around to this understanding. Historically, I LOVE tea. Double Bergamot Earl Grey has been my faithful and delicious companion every weekday since I discovered it, with splurge days on the weekends when I drink my fancy Uncle Grey imported from Canada. Before that, I drank regular Earl Grey or English Breakfast. I can’t remember exactly when I started drinking tea, but I know that it has at LEAST been for eight years (one of my fondest memories from Carla’s first year of life is that my husband made me tea every single morning and brought it to me while I pumped), and probably for several years before that.

But these past few weeks, I’ve had waning enthusiasm for my tea. It doesn’t taste quite as good, I find myself dragging when I need to prepare it, I end up gulping it down to get it over with instead of savoring it. It’s just not giving me the joy that a warm morning cuppa should give a person.

I don’t think I can switch to other teas. I don’t really like most teas – the fruity kinds, no thank you. Rooibos and Chai are okay on occasion but not every day. I like green tea, but it doesn’t have the same comfort factor that Earl Grey does. Matcha is wonderful, but it requires so much milk and frothing and so on to make it the way I like it.

So NOW WHAT.

Today, I asked my husband to make a little extra coffee and so I am drinking that. It is… not good. It is too bitter, even with two packets of Sweet’n Low and my normal glug of half-and-half. When I am not drinking it, the inside of my mouth tastes metallic and sour, and I’m sure my breath is a delight. I made sure to eat a high-protein breakfast before I drank it, but I still feel like it’s making me jittery and a little queasy. How do people drink this every day?

I used to drink coffee. When I was eight, my mom brought home these beautiful bowls from France and she would make me café-au-lait for breakfast. When I went to her office after school, I would help myself to coffee and powdered creamer and many, many packets of sugar in the break room. During my first summer job during college, I would live for the few minutes when I could step away from filing and pour scalding coffee into a paper cup and doctor it until it was creamy and sweet. At some point in my life, I was a fan of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. So I have gone through multiple coffee drinking periods in the course of my life.

But I can’t say I ever really liked coffee. When I left it behind a decade or so ago, I intended never to return. Still, I don’t really want to get back into it, now. It would require too much sugar, for one thing. Too much half-and-half. Too much… amped-up quease. (I feel like the non-word “quease” evokes the feeling much better than the word-word “queasiness.”)

But what else IS there? I need a warm cup of something in the mornings! (PLEASE don’t say warm milk. Hork.)

Maybe I will drink coffee for a few days and then see if I have a newfound appreciation for tea. Or maybe I will find myself sucked into the coffee cult that has thoroughly brainwashed my husband and Lorelai Gilmore and so many others (maybe even you?).

Edited to add: It took me many hours to finish this post; distractions abound! So this is Future Me reporting back to you on today’s coffee sitch: I have still not finished my cup of coffee; my mug is still one-third full and the liquid is cold and my head feels powered by hummingbird wings and my stomach is a-sail on choppy seas. This is not a promising beginning.

A Strange and Unfamiliar Dilemma Arises!

This is not an actual problem.

We ordered our holiday cards on Sunday and they arrived ON WEDNESDAY. People, it is STILL NOVEMBER. This has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I am absolutely delighted. (We ordered through Mpix.com – it was a great experience, through and through. The cards look great, even if adding a photo to a card and printing it didn’t make the awkward way I am holding my arm in said photo look any less awkward.)

But now I am facing a quandary: when do I send the cards? Part of me wants to send them NOW, get them off my desk (my office has become Holiday Storage Central, and is full of boxes that I can’t bear myself to throw away and gifts for people), and perhaps achieve the ever-elusive status of being someone’s First Holiday Card of the Season. (Our First Holiday Card of the Season usually arrives from one of the few high school friends I continue to talk to as an adult. I am anticipating it any day now.)

But the other part of me is resisting this. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am a firmly Wait Until After Thanksgiving holiday celebrant? Maybe because I don’t want to be first? Perhaps people will toss the card because it’s so early, or perhaps I am uncomfortable with the idea of MY awkwardly posed arm being on someone’s wall or mantel all alone for days or weeks? I don’t know. It seems too early!

Then again, Hanukkah is early this year, and begins the weekend after Thanksgiving. Part of the reason we send holiday cards instead of Christmas cards is because so many of our card recipients are Jewish. It would be nice for the holiday card to arrive DURING the holidays, rather than after them. (Although I doubt that any of our Jewish card recipients care all that much; Hanukkah isn’t really that big a deal, and they are likely inured to the tradition of getting “holiday” cards during Christmastime.)

All this to say: I am sort of leaning toward sending them out on December first. That puts them arriving solidly in December, and hopefully before Hanukkah ends.

You Can Bet I Filled Out the Customer Survey, and I Filled It Out GOOD

Yesterday saw me flitting about from store to store, running errands. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done something so carefree. I was looking for three specific things: 1. Candles for the menorah, which I did not find. 2. Ideas for a “giant crate filled with crafting supplies,” which was the top item on Carla’s letter to Santa. 3. A tiny, not-terribly-expensive salt and pepper shaker set that I can use when my parents are here; I did not find this, either. I did manage to spend a lot more money than my lack of success would imply.

Oh! Brief deviation from the topic, which I haven’t even GOTTEN to yet: I thought it was so fascinating to see how differently stores are handling the pandemic. Many stores had signs on their entrances, but I don’t think any of them were the same. “Masks required” said one, with a sentence below in smaller print citing CDC recommendations. “Masks recommended for unvaccinated individuals” said another. “Masks optional” said a third, which is similar to the second, but conveys a very different vibe.

One of the stores I visited was Target. I haven’t been in Target in a long while, partly because I haven’t needed anything from Target in a long time and partly because I love, with my whole heart, the option to order my items online and have someone deliver them to my car. CURBSIDE 4EVA.

It was sort of pleasant and nostalgic to wander around Target for awhile. It wasn’t terribly busy, and I could see with my own eyes that they were, in fact, completely out of Carla’s size in fleece-lined leggings. (I don’t know why I keep buying them, because holes sprout in the knees practically immediately.) (I do know why: they are cheap.)

I narrowly avoided buying any of the cute Christmassy appetizer plates they had for $3 apiece. I am beginning to think that was a mistake.

I was not able to resist the miniature office supplies set, which will make its way into Carla’s stocking.

image from target.com

But when I checked out, I reconnected with one of my biggest peeves about Target. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about it before. But my peeve has been so inflamed that I am going to complain about it again.

When you checkout, there is almost NO WAY to see whether you are being charged appropriately for each item. Long, long ago, so long ago that I am willing to admit it may be a figment of my wildest dreams, you could go up to the credit card reader, and it would show you what you were buying in real time, as the checker scanned your items. No more. Now, if you have even a small hope of glimpsing what the computer says you owe, you have to stand back at the conveyor belt – which makes it very awkward to fill your cart as the checker bags your items – and squint at the computer screen facing the checker. Facing the checker, not facing YOU. And the type is so small that you have very little hope of seeing the price of each item anyway. In larger type is the total of your purchase, but that requires instantaneous math, and I am not good at that in the best of times, less so when I am in public.

We all know that Target makes errors. It is OFTEN that an item will scan at a different price than is displayed on the shelf. And the placement of the computer makes it nearly impossible to know that this is happening.

Also, the only way to know the total you are about to pay is to listen carefully to the checker, who has to say it out loud to you. It does not even give a total on the card reader! This is madness!

HARUMPH.

I did get a customer survey in my email later that day, which I took great pleasure in filling out. Not that it will do a lick of good.

Suspected Shipping Snafu Turned Sweet Surprise!

A box from amazon arrived the other day, as is an all-too-frequent occurrence in these days leading up to the holidays. (I am trying to wean myself off of amazon, I AM, but it is difficult.)

The box was addressed to me; I was expecting some fleece-lined leggings I’d ordered for Carla, to replace her hole-y Target ones. So I opened it.

Inside was a smaller box, with a label that said “lidded casserole.”

This was something I had JUST THE DAY BEFORE put on a list of Christmas wishes that I had shared with my husband. My guess what that he had accidentally sent it to me because I am the intended recipient. So I sighed and put it back in the box, resolving to be So! Surprised! when it appeared under the tree on Christmas Day.

But when he came home, he swore he hadn’t ordered one for me.

Turns out it was a thank-you gift from his parents! When they were here, I’d mentioned that I was constantly on the lookout for a medium sized casserole dish… and my mother-in-law remembered and sent me TWO!

What a fun and thoughtful surprise!

That’s the note I’ll end on. Well, and this additional note, from Carla’s teacher, that she arrived to class her cheerful, happy self. PHEW.

Hope you have a lovely weekend, Internet!

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The original subject line of this post was simply “Chores,” but adding “Chat” really takes it from drudgey to cheerful doesn’t it? No? Just me?

It is a dreary, chilly morning, which feels like a betrayal after the sunny warmth of the past few days. I was awake off and on during the night due to horrible nightmares involving my loved ones. I have to go renew my driver’s license, which is on the Top Five list of Things I Enjoy Only Slightly More Than Dental Work. Plus, I have postponed Bathroom Cleaning Monday for no reason at all beyond my absolute gut-twisting hatred of cleaning the shower, and it can be postponed no more.

When we are feeling so dreary, what better topic to tip us right over the edge cheer us is housecleaning?

I scrubbed the floors yesterday, which is a very satisfying chore. My back hurts a bit, though, and I think I once again have chemical burns on my fingers from the bleach, will I ever learn, which is both painful and also somehow apt. “Satisfying” is, of course, a far cry from “enjoyable.” I am trying to think about whether there are any chores I ENJOY. (Are there any chores YOU enjoy?) I suppose I enjoy the results when I clean the kitchen: The gleaming expanse of freshly-scrubbed counters. The shiny reflective surfaces of the stainless steel appliances. Everything ready and waiting for another meal to be made. Which will inevitably upend everything into disaster once again.

My mother was telling me recently about her own mother’s cleaning schedule. Every month they would deep clean the kitchen, which involved emptying out all the cupboards and drawers and scouring them with Murphy’s Oil Soap. EVERY MONTH. I do this… quarterly, maybe, on a good year? Is that horrifying? How often do you do EMPTY your cabinets and wipe them down, inside and out? While we’re at it, how often do you empty your refrigerator and scrub the inside of THAT? I do it far less frequently than I should, even though I have no idea what the Ideal Refrigerator Cleaning Frequency even is. There is possibly some sort of checklist available online, that would tell me exactly what to do when, but I don’t care to be bossed. I will instead remain fretful and slovenly, thank you very much.

Everything I know about cleaning, I learned from my mother. Well, that’s not entirely fair: I learned about dish washing from my father. And about scouring the sink with Soft Scrub. But everything else was my mother’s domain. She was much better about sticking to a strict housecleaning schedule than I am; see above RE: the bathroom cleansing delay. We cleaned the whole house every Saturday. I remember being awakened by the sound of the vacuum. My job was a) cleaning my room and b) dusting. (I also did most of the dishes on the daily, and did my own laundry and ironing. I REFUSE to iron as an adult, but as a middle schooler I ironed my Z-Cavaricci jeans. The heart wants what it wants.)

At some point, I did learn how to scrub a bathroom as well, so I’m sure I helped with that on Cleaning Saturdays. I don’t mind cleaning a toilet, really. And there’s nothing difficult or daunting about wiping down a counter (for me, I recognize and support those for whom it is either or both). By the way, my very best (only?) cleaning tip is to keep a toilet scrubber in EVERY BATHROOM. And if your bathrooms have cabinets, keep a container of toilet cleaner, 409, and a roll of paper towels in each bathroom as well. That way, even if your cleaning supplies are all the way in the laundry room, or you aren’t in the mood to do a Full Cleaning, you can do a quick spot clean and still feel accomplished and virtuous. Hot tips like this keep you coming back, I just know it.

My mother used Endust on a rag to do her dusting, so I also use Endust on a rag to do my own dusting. Swiffer dusters were not available back then, and, frankly, are hugely wasteful although I do still use them on occasion.  I have a Swiffer-style sweeper with reusable pads for the floors. We had hardwood floors in the kitchen, so my mother never scrubbed the grout (no grout to be had). But she did use some sort of Pledge-type liquid to mop the floors until they shone. I use Mr. Clean on my hardwood floors because a housekeeper requested it specifically, and then I kept buying it whenever it was on sale, and now we have more Mr. Clean than any one person should. Bleach is my best friend in the bathrooms, and when it comes to cleaning the grout. I like vinegar and baking soda – or baking soda and Dawn – when it comes to cleaning my sinks. I love 409 for counter tops. Who knew adulthood would mean amassing so many Preferred Cleaning Items?

I suppose How to Properly Clean a House is an important life lesson for a child, and sometimes I fret (because I will literally fret about anything) about whether I am On Track in teaching Carla how to keep a house. What kinds of cleaning chores do your kids do? Or, if you don’t have kids, what were your housecleaning responsibilities as a child? 

Carla’s main jobs are tidying: She must make her bed every morning. She must clean her room once a week. She must pick up any toys she leaves out, although this is a moving target; right now, for instance, there is a bunch of play-doh and various play-doh tools out on the kitchen table, which shows you both how good I am at enforcing her tidying responsibilities and how often we eat together at the table. 

I also have Carla zoop the floors on occasion. Most of the kitchen debris comes from her (at what age do children stop shedding crumbs?), so it seems only fair that she help dispose of it. She also has to clear, rinse, and place her breakfast and dinner dishes. And, if we eat together, she clears, rinses, and places ALL the dishes. This is a very pleasing improvement in her Skills and Abilities, now that she is seven. She is responsible for putting away her folded laundry. Sometimes, if she is in The Right Mood, she will help me dust. I especially appreciate her dusting skills when it comes to wiping down the banister and stairwell baseboards.

When I was a kid, I also had to clean out the barn. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed that chore. I would crank up the country radio station and get out a big, stiff-bristled broom, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow, and remove all the manure from the barn to the shelter belt. Talk about a satisfying chore. You had the pleasure of not only seeing something go from filthy to clean, but also the satisfaction of pleasingly sore muscles. And it was nice to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. The horses did not enjoy it as much, sometimes nudging over the wheelbarrow in defiance or pushing past me to dirty the newly cleaned floor with an abundance of scorn. 

My husband does most of the vacuuming, and he takes care of the bathroom floors. (He can vacuum the entire house and clean all the bathroom floors before I finish cleaning the kitchen.) (I suspect that he does not move the furniture to vacuum under it, but one can only ask for so much.) (He will vacuum under the couch cushions if I remind him.) He also does the VAST MAJORITY of the laundry folding, for which I am deeply grateful. I excel at washing clothes, and sometimes even putting them in the dryer, and sometimes even moving the clean, dry clothes up to the laundry room guest room. But unless I am VIGILANT about folding the clothes immediately, I grow overwhelmed and dizzy and choose to shut the door on the ever-growing pile until it threatens to take over the house or my daughter runs out of underwear, whichever comes first. My husband, on the other hand, is never daunted by a mountainous tangle of clothes. He LIKES to fold, and listens to music while doing so, and it takes him SUCH a short time I think he is a magician every time he does it. He is also very good at the mechanics of folding: his shirts are always creased just so and identical in size, a feat I have never been able to master. 

Folding laundry is one thing. But my most hated chore, by far, is cleaning the shower. It requires scrubbing, which is physically draining. Plus, since it’s a small shower with a sliding glass door, it requires some bodily contortions that I don’t love. Plus, rinsing the shower always results in my shirt and socks becoming completely sodden. Plus, it is impossible to get every single bit of either the doors or the track on which they slide fully clean. PLUS I cannot handle hair in a drain. I JUST CANNOT HANDLE IT. Hair on a head, fine. Hair anywhere else, I will pass out or throw up or both.

Well, I had hoped that talking about chores would get me all fired up to go do some cleaning. It has not had that effect. Perhaps you will share what your favorite/most hated chores are, and/or what the breakdown of chores is in your househould, and/or your Hot Tips for cleaning. In the meantime, I am going to trudge up to the bathroom anyway and see if I can clean the shower without getting totally soaked.

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The exterminator just called and told me one of his other clients has an emergency and would I mind please changing our appointment to next week. Um, no, of course not?! I don’t even want to THINK what might constitute an extermination emergency, so please, go help the poor people who need you. We can live with our silverfish for another few days. Anyway, now that I don’t have to flit fretfully around the exterminator while he does his work, I have an extra free hour or so in which I should be writing to kill, so let’s chat a bit, shall we?

It’s ironic that I should use the word “chat,” because I just left a lengthy complaint on Swistle’s latest post about how my wonderful, beloved child has been extra chatty in the mornings lately. To counteract the bad karma of complaining about my cherished daughter, I will effuse to you a bit because she is just SO FUN to talk to these days. (When it is not six-forty-five in the morning and when we are not trying to get out of the house to be somewhere on time.) She has so many questions and it’s fun to a) discover what’s going through her brain and b) see if I have a reasonable answer, or will have to leave her with the unsatisfying-for-all-of-us response of “we’ll have to look it up.” (My favorite chats take place in the car, so we cannot look it up just then.) She likes to ask about word origins, which can be fun to discuss, especially if I have a little insight into the etymology of whatever she’s got in mind. For instance, she might say that “rhinoceros” is a funny word, and I can point out that “rhin” is from the Greek word for nose and we can marvel over how appropriate a name it is for that particular animal. The other day, she asked me why singers use curse words in their music, I assume because she has been listening to some Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber songs that have lots of bleeped-out words. So I got to teach her a new word (“profanity”) and talk about why some people choose to use profanity, and why it’s not always a good choice, and then she got to say some curse words in the guise of asking me questions about them which is always fun for a seven-year-old to get away with. Our conversations are a delight. And fill me with confidence in her curiosity and intellect that I hold up as a talisman when I overhear her and her friends changing “Old Town Road” to “Old Town Butt” and then every other word of the lyrics is “butt.”

This has been a good week for writing. I was feeling, last week and over the weekend, Extreme Self-Pity (the book is terrible, I’m never going to finish, I’ve wasted my life, I’m a failure and everyone knows it, etc. etc.). Maybe indulging in my own personal pity party spurred an overcorrection because I’ve been writing my little fingers to the bone all week. (This round of revisions still isn’t finished.) (But it’s eking ever closer.) Or maybe it was written in the stars…

Astro Poets is the one true source of all my cosmic guidance.

While this is nearly a decade too late to be an “update,” yes, we still have silverfishUsually they pop out once or twice a year, springish and fallish, but we’re having a little burst of them right now. Four sightings in the past week, plus a Very Unpleasant Incident in which I went to squish a silverfish that was chillin’ above my daughter’s bed right where the wall meets the ceiling, and instead of squishing obediently, the silverfish JUMPED OUT of my Kleenex and disappeared into my daughter’s bedding. And then, after my husband and I jointly and confidently assured Carla that no self-respecting silverfish – especially one that had recently been the victim of a near-squishing – would stay on the bed near the sight of said squishing, and if by chance it WAS on her bed, it was assuredly DEAD… and after we carefully took apart her bedding, piece by piece, examining each stuffed animal to ensure no silverfish, it was of course under her pillow, very much alive… and then after I attempted to re-squish it, it AGAIN leapt from my Kleenex, causing me – the person trying to be calm and unperturbed about something as harmless as a silverfish – to shriek in front of my daughter. (I did get it, in the end, and squished it and flushed it so it is doubly dead.) Don’t get me wrong – I’d MUCH rather have silverfish than many other creepy crawlies (or whatever constitutes an exterminator emergency; I really can’t stop thinking about what that may be). But I can’t say that we co-exist peacefully: they are so wiggly and have so very many legs. The exterminator – who is the same lovely sixtyish/seventyish-something gentleman who has been coming out to our house two to three times a year for a decade now – blames the silverfish on the number of books we have. I guess they like paper? But I have lived in homes full of books all my life, and this is the only house that has ever featured silverfish, so I’m skeptical and have not done anything to pare down our home library. I am looking forward to seeing the exterminator, for the reason of the silverfish, of course, but also because he is older and has been visiting people’s homes in a pandemic and I’d like to put eyes on him and make sure he’s okay. Aside from the microwave installation people, he is the only non-immediate-family-member who has been inside my house since last March. Which is weird. 

In bragging news, I went to the grocery store today and scored ANOTHER bottle of bleach spray. My supplies were depleted a little because I scrubbed the grout last weekend and used up most of a bottle of bleach. (I also gave myself pretty serious chemical burns on two of my fingers, though they are mostly healed now.) I also picked up (we are back at the grocery store now) a bottle of different new-to-me Lysol (I still can’t find the lemon scent I prefer). This one has more of a typical antiseptic scent to it, with maybe a slight hint of orange, and I bought it because I need an occasional break from the  mango-and-hibiscus Lysol I bought last time. I’m still going to use the tropical one of course; in a pandemic, one shouldn’t look a cleanser horse in the mouth, even if it is very sickly-sweet and gives me a headache. The grocery store seemed to be almost entirely back to pre-pandemic stocking levels. The only aisle that had anything resembling bare shelves was the cleaning products aisle; even the paper products aisle had shelves bursting with paper towels and toilet paper. Of course, no Grape Nuts or bucatini, but we will survive without.

This one gives off real no-nonsense cleaning-expert vibes. Unlike its frivolous, perfume-loving counterpart who would totally blow off work to go get daiquiris.

Most days, I am okay with our pandemic way of life. I mean, I don’t LIKE it, and obviously I would prefer that everyone would wear a mask and vaccines were abundant and distributed quickly and efficiently so we could return to a pre-pandemic way of life. But mostly, I am getting used to it. About time, since it’s been going on for nearly an entire year.

I feel very fortunate that the isolated nature of our lives these days suits my personality and lifestyle. I already worked from home; I’m socially awkward; I’m an introvert. Once in awhile, though, I so start feeling lonely. And I want to figure out some way, any way, to interact with other non-immediate-family humans. I used to go through that cycle in The Before Times, too, where I’d go for long stretches without seeing anyone… and then I’d overcorrect by setting up a coffee date AND a dinner date AND a family get together all in the same week… which would completely exhaust and overwhelm me into swearing off human interaction ever again. Still happens, even now that there is really no such thing as having a social life. Carla and I are going to our outdoor sport tomorrow and will see a bunch of her friends and their parents, which will be good. And then on Sunday, my little family will be doing another outdoor activity with friends we haven’t seen since Halloween. Which will ALSO be good. But I am pre-exhausted and pre-overwhelmed by the thought of all this socializing. At least I’m not the only one.

My husband just got his second-round vaccine. This is such a HUGE relief; in a few weeks, he should be (mostly) protected from Covid-19 and I will worry about him MUCH LESS. Plus, my parents’ state has opened up vaccine registration to their age group, so they are on a list and should get their first round soon. Woo hoo! My brother and sister-in-law already got vaccinated because they are both front-line workers. Which leaves only six near-immediate family members to continue worrying about. I mean, I always worry about ALL my family members, but I can downgrade the threat level for a few of them now.

The asparagus is gone. But not eaten. It looked fine, but at some point I started to notice a faint garbage-y smell emanating from our fridge so I threw them away. Sorry asparagus. Wasn’t meant to be. 

Speaking of vegetables, I am continuing to work on increasing Carla’s vegetable consumption. In the car after school yesterday, she announced, with great conviction, that she HATES vegetables. (She is discouraged from using the word “hate” except in cases where she feels most strongly.) I had to remind her that she likes lettuce and sugar snap peas and green beans and red peppers and tomatoes. (“I only EAT green beans and red peppers, Mommy, I don’t LIKE them,” she informed me. “And bell peppers and tomatoes are FRUIT, not vegetables.”) Getting her to eat veggies, especially NEW ones, requires creative thinking. The other day, I decided to renew my efforts to get her to like broccoli. She only likes the broccoli “floof” (relatable) but claims not to like broccoli at all. (When she was younger, she would eat it frozen OR cooked with cheese sauce! I don’t know when she stopped liking it!) “You just haven’t found a preparation you like,” I said. So we did a taste test. One floret of raw broccoli; one floret of raw broccoli dipped in ranch; one piece of roasted broccoli with salt and olive oil; one piece of roasted broccoli with lemon juice; one piece of roasted broccoli with parmesan. To increase the Fun Factor (wood board my life is sad), I made a survey for her to fill out as she tried each candidate. The results were not promising. 

Carla has her own food priorities.

I think I am in a bit of a book slump. After my gloomy post the other day, I decided the best remedy for Feeling Down was to pick up a good book. I finally, after many, many months, downloaded The Heir Affair to my kindle and read it. I knew it would be exactly what I needed – funny, fast-paced, engrossing, well-written, totally removed from the real world – and indeed it was. Everything I hoped it would be and more! I LOVED IT. But I finished it in two days and am now casting about for what to read next. See? Book slump. And it’s not for want of books! (See above re: silverfish vacation destination.) I have SO MANY books both on my kindle and on my bookshelves/nightstand just waiting for me to read them! I am, in fact, in the middle of three separate books (a trait I get from my mother, apparently), each of which is very good, and each of which is completely not what I’m looking for at this particular moment. Which is The Heir Affair again. Or its prequel, The Royal WeOr The Holdout, which was another book I could not put down. That’s what I want: something completely absorbing and unputdownable. But it also shouldn’t be sad. Or… deal with anything too heavy. What is the most unputdownable, semi-light-subject-wise book you’ve read? Or, if that’s too specific, what is the most absorbing book you’ve read recently? 

A mix of books I have and have not yet read.

Well, it’s not actually SUNNY outside right now, but the clouds are high/thin enough that there is something approximating light streaming through the windows. And I can’t tell you how cheering it is, in all its diffuse dimness. I will take what I can get!

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