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Posts Tagged ‘randomosity’

I have a deadline but am going through my usual pre-writing ritual of not being able to focus on my assignment AT ALL. The best thing, when that happens, is to lean into it. Completely ignore the work, and do something else. Probably I should attack the literal mountain of clean laundry I have been avoiding for two weeks now. I just keep… washing clothes and then heaping them on the guest bed and not folding them. Carla and I have both worn some things we would normally avoid simply because it is impossible to find something in Mount Laundry. It is at a very dire point indeed, and also my family owns way too much clothing.

While I discover which Important Task I am willing to procrastinate more, I will write a blog post.

A Thing I Am Dreading: I am scheduled for jury duty soon, and I have known about it for months (and delayed it twice), and at this point I just need to get it over with. Jury duty would be so interesting, I think, if I didn’t have to worry about Carla logistics. Once this current project is done, I have a break from paying work, and the idea of listening to a real, live legal proceeding sounds kind of cool. Not to mention all the people watching I could do while I wait to be called! But even though I have arranged before- and after-school care for Carla, I am still stressed out. The court is in the middle of the city, and I have to drive on the freeway during rush hour, both ways, and it’s far enough away that I am stressed I will be late dropping Carla off or picking her up. My husband will try to help where he can, of course, but his work schedule is too unpredictable for me to count on him. The last time I did jury duty, I remember being SO stressed about the exact same things. I was there for an entire day before I got called into a courtroom to be screened for that case’s jury. I can’t remember exactly what happened – maybe they filled the jury before they got to me? – but I was sent home at the end of the day and didn’t have to come back. Here’s hoping something similar happens this time, too! [Semi-Related Tangent: When I searched my blog to see if I had already whined about jury duty (I had, right here), I came across this post and wow, I can really work up a good froth about bureaucratic BS, can’t I?]

A Thing I Need to Buy: Carla is doing a school project on Eleanor Roosevelt and will need this month an Eleanor Roosevelt costume. Does Eleanor Roosevelt have a Signature Look? Not so far as I can tell! Mainly dark, severe-looking clothing, furs, long strands of pearls, a wide variety of hats. I am… not having much luck finding anything in a child’s size. I think I can cobble a few items together (maybe this WW2 dress? (Which… why is that a costume???) And this fur shawl? And this hat?) but it’s not an insignificant cost when you add everything up, plus Carla says that the hat NEEDS FEATHERS. I feel like maybe we could put together something from things we own, although Carla would prefer to use this as a Buying Opportunity, but I am afraid that the few things that we have that are even adjacent to looking like they are from the right era won’t look Eleanor Roosevelty enough. Surely most parents aren’t going to buy a full-on costume (like one of the moms I know is doing) and are going to slap something together at the last minute, right? The whole thing is making me grouchy. You don’t happen to have an Eleanor Roosevelt costume lying around in your closet, do you?

A Thing I Recently Made: My husband and I ate this balsamic chicken and mushrooms dish last night. (I made a half portion and used goat cheese instead of feta.) It was a little bit of a hassle because the recipe required that I brown the chicken and mushrooms before putting them into the casserole dish. However, it was quite delicious and just 5 net carbs per serving. I did feel a little weird not having anything else to go along with it. I’d planned to do a side salad but it just didn’t happen. (“Is this… all?” my husband asked when I plated it alongside a big empty slice of plate.) But it was yummy and very filling. Definitely something I will make again. 

A Thing That Went Well: I had a work meeting this week, and five minutes before it started a bunch of workmen started unloading a big digging machine into my yard. They are doing some sort of work for the city, I think, and I panicked. My office is on the front of the house and I don’t have any other Zoom-appropriate backgrounds in my home. So I ran outside in my bare feet and begged the workers to delay until the end of my meeting. AND THEY DID. The meeting went really well and it was very quiet and once it was done I went back outside and thanked the workers. They got started and I was VERY GLAD I’d asked them to wait. You’d think all the rain we’ve been having would have made the ground nice and soft, but it sounded like they were clanging metal directly against rock the entire time. 

A Thing I Have Been Thinking About: For some reason, I recently found myself reading a couple of old blog posts I wrote right around the time of Carla’s birth. And I realized I have never posted her birth story. Now that it’s almost nine years later, it’s too late, right? Or maybe it isn’t? I don’t know. Now that I have some (a lot) of distance from it, her birth seems like not that big of a deal. But at the time it was so traumatic to me, and dredged up so many intense and complicated feelings that I couldn’t even THINK of it – for years! – without crying. I am pretty sure I’m past that now. I have more perspective. Time really does heal. But it might be fun to have a record of that time, even if the record is being made now, from memory? I don’t know. We’ll see. 

What influential dead person would you dress up as, for a third grade social studies project?

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Listen, I endured the drab wet drag of April purely because of the promise of May flowers and May has brought NOTHING BUT RAIN so far. Okay, also, I had no choice. But mainly the May flowers thing. Today, in particular, has been miserable. A persistent seething mist that is somehow much more dismal and spirit-breaking than actual rain, and everything is so water-logged and sloppy, and there’s no relief in sight. The weather mirrors, in so many ways, the news. 

So I am in the mood for some good ol’ mental diversionary tactics. Join me for some randomosity, will you?

I went back to the grocery store today. My husband has a work meeting tonight which I am using as a handy excuse to buy some prepared food that I merely have to heat rather than making an actual meal. I don’t love going to the grocery store multiple times in one week, but doing so meant that I could check out the produce situation on a mid-Wednesday rather than first thing Monday. The produce section was fully-stocked (asparagus! broccoli! iceberg lettuce aplenty!), so I feel fairly confident that the bare spots from Monday were a simple matter of timing rather than supply chain issues or shortages. 

Going to the grocery store today also meant that I could collect photographic evidence of the artisan baby iceberg lettuces. What do you think the other customers think, when I pulled out my phone and began taking baby-iceberg glamour shots?

I don’t know if you can see it on that sign, but these are “personal sized iceberg lettuce about the size of a softball!” A softball-sized lettuce is not worth $1.50, even if you claim it is “artisan.” Which… how? Doesn’t “artisan” mean crafted or made by hand??? Man, these marketers are really working hard for their money.

Here is the baby lettuce next to the actual heads of iceberg. There is no way that two baby lettuces equal one regular one. No way.

The tonic aisle was still full of holes, although I was able to get a bottle of diet tonic. My gin will be delighted. 

Speaking of gin: I bought this particular bottle because of a grocery store loophole. The grocery store in question is not my regular place. It’s a bigger, less nice supermarket that has a liquor store tacked onto one side. It’s very close to Carla’s school, so sometimes I pop in there if I need something quickly. The big problem with this grocery store is that it is chronically understaffed. This has always been an issue, and you can imagine that it has become even more significant with the staffing shortages that everyone is facing right now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than two cash registers in operation at a time. And there are self-checkouts, but the lines at those are always enormous. This store has a loophole, though. Which is that you can buy groceries (as long as you don’t need any produce to be weighed) in the attached liquor store. Carla and I were there very late, because I’d been busy with the volunteer event I was chairing, and the lines were soooo long, and we only had a few items (including a frozen pizza for me because I can handle a twelve-hour day of volunteering but I cannot handle anything more complicated than heating up a frozen pizza on top of that), so I grabbed a bottle of gin and we paid in twenty seconds. The cashier, bless her, asked for my ID, and I said, “You need my ID? Can’t you see the many decades of exhaustion etched on my face?” and then Carla said to the cashier, “Do you also sell ginantonic?” and perhaps I need to reserve my gin-and-tonic hours for after she goes to bed. 

I had a Very Stressful dream last night. I was supposed to read a poem at a friend’s wedding. When I showed up – wearing the navy dress that all the bridesmaids were wearing – my friend was aghast; I was supposed to be wearing a DIFFERENT navy dress! I wondered if I had time to run home and change into the dress I bought and did not wear for Passover, but in the dream logic, I didn’t make any effort to figure out how much time I did or did not have. Instead, I spent the remainder of the VERY LENGTHY dream trying in vain to find the poem I was supposed to read in my email or online. At some point, I turned the dress I was wearing inside out, so at least it was a different color than the bridesmaids’, but the bride refused to talk to me. What the hell is this dream trying to tell me? What particular stress am I manifesting?

It feels like people all around me are getting Covid. A friend yesterday told me her husband tested positive; her kid tested positive this morning. A second friend’s husband tested positive today. This is not a new phenomenon, but it hasn’t happened in a while. I am not a fan. 

I have a credit card that I don’t use very often, and when I went to use it recently I discovered it had expired. Except that I had never received a replacement. So I went online and checked to make sure no one was running up charges (not yet at least) and then emailed the company, saying, “Hi, my card expired, but I never got a new one.” The response I got was, “Hey! Our records show we sent you a card in December. If you have not received your new card, let us know by calling us!” Um. Did you READ my previous email? In which I said that I never got my new card? Sigh. So much for dealing with this issue quickly and easily via email. Now I have to CALL SOMEONE.  

In other mildly unsettling credit card news, my husband recently got an email that he’d been approved for the credit card he’d signed up for! A card that he had NOT signed up for. He was able to cancel the card, but marveled at the fact that the person who had tried to steal his identity for nefarious credit-card obtaining purposes had used his email address. Why? Then yesterday we got the card itself in the mail. It was sent to our actual address. What? What is wrong with this identity thief? Is this some identity theft testing process? A credit card company that tries to get you to accept their card by pretending you signed up for it? Very odd indeed. 

Usually at this time of year, I find myself feeling pre-resentful and grumpy about Mother’s DayThis year I am feeling very at peace with whatever happens. I haven’t made any plans for myself, nor asked for anything, and I am not grumpy one whit. I mean, there’s still time to feel resentful and grumpy, but I’m enjoying the absolute not-caring that I feel at this moment. It’s very freeing. 

Here is a random photo of blue skies and flowering trees which is the OPPOSITE of what it looks like outside right now.

Someone made a Serious Error several years ago that resulted in the Tooth Fairy leaving personalized notes to my daughter each time she loses a tooth. Because of this really thoughtless oversight on someone’s part, my daughter has been corresponding with the Tooth Fairy – asking questions, requesting fairy dust, wanting to know the Tooth Fairy’s name. And then today, I made a Serious Error by saying, before I had fully awakened, that the Muffin Fairy had left an extra blueberry muffin on my daughter’s breakfast plate. She latched onto that wording immediately. I told her that I was the Muffin Fairy and that there was no real Muffin Fairy and she squinted at me and said, “If you are the Muffin Fairy,” – which again I had literally just invented five seconds ago – “then are you the Tooth Fairy, too?” 

I try very hard to never lie to my child. And by that I mean never lie to her face while still trying to preserve the magical fabrications that I remember bringing so much joy to my own childhood. So I adopted an expression of exaggerated skepticism and said, “Why would you think that? Do I look like a fairy?” and her squint deepened and I said, “And what would I do with teeth? And how would I possibly go around to the houses of everyone who lost a tooth?” And she said, “No, silly, you wouldn’t go to everyone’s house. Only your own kid.” And then I went into the pantry and changed the subject. But a few minutes later, she directed me to write something on a piece of paper so she could compare it to the Tooth Fairy’s handwriting. WHO, may I ask, overlooked the fact that she has been keeping her correspondence with the Tooth Fairy?

Did I tell you that Carla bought a jumpsuit? Is that the right word for it? We went to Carter’s the other day and she found this truly adorable one-piece pants outfit and immediately wanted it. I mean, I wanted it also, it was so chic and lovely. I would look terrible in it, especially considering it only came in child sizes. The problem with it was that it had a button at the back of the neck. A child’s jumpsuit. Had a button. At the back of the neck. I have never understood buttons on the back of children’s clothing EVER. But how – HOW, I ask you – does it make any iota of sense to have a button closure on the back of a CHILD’S JUMPSUIT? How is a CHILD supposed to navigate that when addressing normal and not-infrequent necessities of life presumably whilst at school?

She found a different jumpsuit, also cute, with NO BUTTONS ANYWHERE. She tried it on and demonstrated to me how she would remove it for bathroom break purposes. She wore it to school today and looked very adorable indeed. And by “adorable” I mean, of course, “stylish and grown-up” because Carla has reached an age where “cute” is now code for “babyish.” I cannot refer to her as “cute” anymore or she reacts with disgust.

Apparently I am now on a Carla Stories Kick. Yesterday, we had such a lovely time together after school. We have been looking for Jeff the Great Blue Heron every time we drive past his pond and have only seen him ONCE. So Carla asked if we could walk over to his pond after school. The rain stopped just for this purpose. It was so nice. We didn’t see Jeff, but we did see many Canada geese couples and their fluffy yellow babies. We also saw some goldfinches and some killdeer and some mallards, and Carla described at length how killdeer have a very distinctive call and asked me if I was aware that there was such a thing as a GREEN heron, and then talked a bit about an imaginary bird journal that she would like to keep. She held my hand while we crossed the street and then kept holding my hand and I just kept grinning at her and thinking, My God, I am so grateful for this child. It may sound mundane and silly and it was but it is also an afternoon I never, ever want to forget. 

This is not the most flattering angle of Jeff, but it is very difficult to photograph a subject as reluctant as he is. He is much more magnificent and graceful in person.

I may have zero sunshine but I did pick up some more May flowers for myself: a bunch of hot pink Gerber daisies to add to my yellow tulips from Monday.

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Nicole posted about her recent dental experiences the other day, and I don’t want to be a copycat in any way, but it must be dentistry season or something because I have a LOT of dental topics to cover. 

Over-Communicators: First, like Nicole, I get WAY too many communications from my dentist. They have an email newsletter (why?) and they send reminder texts and reminder emails and for a long time, they were sending “we have an appointment available!” texts that they have fortunately either discontinued or stopped sending to me in particular.  I don’t need to hear from my dentist this often. Does anyone?

For my recent appointment, I got a confirmation text at FIVE AM which was then immediately followed by a phone call. (And then the chime alerting me to a voicemail.) They also sent an email, but I don’t have email notifications enabled on my phone so it didn’t bother me immediately. Out of spite, I refused to confirm my appointment. That’ll show ‘em.

Listen. Because my husband is a physician, and is plagued by cancellations and no-shows, I know better than many how important it is for healthcare providers to remind patients about their appointment time. But three simultaneous notifications is a little aggressive, no? 

Routine Cleaning, Visit 1 of 3: I have been to the dentist three times in the past six weeks, which is really far too many times a person should need to go to the dentist. In my opinion. The first visit was for a routine cleaning. While I was there, I mentioned that I have been having pain in one of my molars. I live in absolute terror of needing another root canal – not because the root canal itself was so bad; it wasn’t, as I was knocked out, but because the cold test they do to confirm dead/dying root was the single most painful experience of my life so far. I am not eager to repeat it. 

The dentist said that the molar pain could be that the root needs canaling (I don’t know how to talk about dentistry)… or it could be that my gums are receding a little bit and exposing the nerve… or it could be the imperceptible beginning of a cavity… or it could be because I clench my teeth.

Since I get terrible headaches on the regular, we kind of settled on the teeth-clenching issue as being our first area of attack. (Well, plus I am once again using exclusively toothpaste for sensitive teeth, which does seem to be helping a bit.) The plan of attack seems to be getting a night guard. I am hopeful that the night guard will help prevent me from clenching my jaw while I sleep, and that this will keep the headaches at bay. 

The Old Night Guard: The fact is, I have had a “dental appliance” for over a decade that is supposed to solve the jaw clenching problem. But I used it only a few times when I got it, and have tried it a few times since only to shove it back into my drawer as quickly as possible. I hate it. It is small – maybe the size of… a pencil sharpener? an overlarge die? I am really struggling to come up with something the exact shape and size. Slightly smaller than one of those miniature boxes of Nerds? It attaches to my upper front teeth and keeps me from closing my teeth together. 

The first thing I hate about it is that it fits SO tightly. It’s slightly difficult to pop on, but it is far far worse to remove. I feel like the only way I will ever get it out of my mouth is to break my top front teeth in half. Releasing it in the morning is extremely stressful.

The second thing I hate about it is that it is small. I have a (possibly irrational) fear that I will swallow it or choke on it at night. The last time I used it – I think in a desperate attempt to stave off the last root canal; is this foreshadowing because I don’t like it – I woke up and couldn’t find it and was CERTAIN that I had swallowed it in the night. As my husband and the dentist pointed out, it fits so snugly on my teeth that there is no way it could have fallen off in the night. So I must have removed it myself while I was asleep. To that I say: it is so incredibly difficult to remove, there’s no way I did it while unconscious. But probably no one else removed it for me. In any event, I am no less fearful of swallowing the stupid thing while I sleep. So I don’t wear it and every time I complain to the dentist about jaw pain/headaches, he gives me an exasperated look and asks if I am wearing my appliance. 

New Favorite Dentist: A new dentist recently joined our practice. I was telling her all about my jaw clenching woes and my fear of the appliance I already own. She immediately won me over by saying, “Well, you definitely don’t want to worry about swallowing your night guard!” like it was a completely reasonable worry to have. And then she set me up to be fitted for a new, un-swallowable (and MUCH more comfortable) night guard. Also, I have never had a woman dentist before, and she seems cool and fun and I wish we could be best friends. 

Observation: I am noticing that I never refer to my male healthcare workers as cool and fun. Hmm. Hmmmmmm.

Best Filling Ever, Visit #2: Also during my routine cleaning appointment, the new dentist looked at a tooth that has had, for YEARS, a little divot in it. I am sure that the old dentist was keeping a close eye on it, and apparently something has recently changed to make it catch the attention of the new dentist. “You need a filling,” she said.

Yay. Good times.

When I went back for the filling, I was extremely nervous. I have mentioned before how much anxiety I get at the dentist, but mouth shots really fire up the ol’ anxiety engine. “How many shots will I need?” I asked. And she said, none, the filling was small enough she thought she could do it without numbing me at all. At which point I grew more nervous. I told her that I have a very low pain tolerance and that I was afraid it would hurt. She seemed to take this seriously, which I appreciated. She said she would be happy to numb me for the procedure, but that she thought the numbing shots would be much worse than the filling. So I tensed every single muscle in my body and prepared for the worst.

You guys. It took five seconds and was completely painless. Completely. Painless. She simply put some faux-enamel or whatever it is they use for fillings into the divot in my tooth, used some magical hardening tool to set it, and was done. Someone else sanded it down, and the whole ordeal was over. BEST FILLING EVER.

Of Doppelgangers and Flattery: The person who did both my filling and the subsequent scanning for my nightguard was new to me. Instead of my regular hygienist, or any of the three dentists in the practice, this person must have been… a dental technician? A hygienist? I have no idea. No one introduced me to her or told me her title or anything, and I guess that’s on me for just trustingly walking back to a reclining chair and opening my mouth for a stranger with a bunch of pokey tools at her disposal. 

She was very nice, despite the pokey tool availability. After the filling, she fitted me for the nightguard. To do so, she took a 3D scan of my upper teeth using a very odd machine about the size of an electric toothbrush. As she was scanning my teeth, she said that I look JUST like her friend’s daughter. It must have been quite a close resemblance, because she mentioned it several times, and then told me some details about the friend’s daughter as though that might remind me that I was indeed her twin or something. (I am being snarky, but truly I have no idea what to do in that kind of situation! How do you respond when someone insists that you look identical to someone you’ve never met? I have never had a doppelganger before!)

She asked me how old I am. I told her, in that awkward lisping way one does while someone else’s hands are in their mouth, that I am 41. She stopped scanning my teeth, stepped back, and removed her protective eyewear. “You’re kidding,” she said. “My friend’s daughter just turned 30.” I don’t generally think of myself as looking either younger or older than I am, but it was very pleasing to be mistaken for a 30-year-old youth. 

Night Guard Fitting, Last Appointment (for Now):  Once the scan was turned into a 3D model of my upper teeth, I had to return once more to the dentist. This time, the dentist had to fit the night guard to my bite. At first, she said it was very important that my bite be even, otherwise wearing the guard could cause me pain. So she put that weird dark paper (Google tells me it is called “articulating paper”) in between my night guard and my bottom teeth and had me bite down on all sides, then she would use a special tool to grind away the parts that were uneven. She did this for thirty minutes, grinding the night guard down, blowing all the dust off of it, reinserting it into my mouth, asking me if it felt even, having me bite down on the articulating paper, removing the guard, grinding some more. I began to get the sense that she was growing weary of the repetition. “Is it getting better?” she’d ask, of the evenness of my bite. I started telling her it was getting a bit better, even though it didn’t seem better to me. Eventually, I asked her what would happen if it was uneven. “Well, you might have some pain,” she said. “You can always bring it back in and we can adjust it later.” So the next time she inserted the night guard, I told her it was great. 

Was this a bad move? Maybe! But I hate things like that! I want the thing to be correct, to work correctly. The dentist presumably wants the thing to work correctly too. But it was taking SO LONG to get it right. And even though the dentist never said so in so many words, I could tell she was getting antsy, which made me want to move things along. Plus, I started doubting my own perceptions. Maybe this was exactly how it was supposed to feel! Maybe my bite is weird to begin with! But now maybe the night guard is not going to work as well as it could??? And then I will have to go back, a FOURTH time, to get it recalibrated? UGH.

Carla, Future Animal Dentist: Carla, lucky spring breaker that she is, came with me to the night guard fitting appointment. She was very interested in every single thing the dentist did, and asked five million questions (including quizzing the dental assistant about why she wanted to work with teeth and asking if they used a 3D printer to make my night guard), and the dentist seemed to love her inquisitiveness. She answered every question and even showed Carla how to work the various little tools on her tray – the grinder thing, the air blowy thing, the water sprayer thing. She kept asking Carla if she wanted to be a dentist, and Carla – ever agreeable – said yes! Of course! A dentist! even though she has never once expressed interest in dentistry in her life. 

Then, as is Carla’s way, she said, “Maybe I could be a dentist for animals!” The dentist and the dental assistant and I kind of laughed gently at this, although for all I know maybe there ARE dentists for your pets, and Carla went on: “Yes! I will be an animal dentist! And I will make night guards for cats and dogs and horses!” 

Personalization: The dentist sent me home with my not-too-ill-fitting night guard in a little box. She gave the box to Carla to carry and told her that she could decorate it for me. Which Carla did.  

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Wow, do I hate the time change. It should have kicked in already, right? Instead, I still feel like I’m sleeping less and yet also sleeping late and it’s making me very grumpy indeed. You’d think I would be THRILLED at the news that the U.S. is planning to put an end to the time change. Instead, I’m apprehensive. What new inconveniences will NO time change insert into our lives? What can I say. I am bitterly opposed to change, even if said change means changing the time change. Better the devil I know, I guess. 

It has come to my attention that I may have forgotten to update you on a few small things here and there. Things that make literally no difference to your day-to-day well-being. And yet, for completeness, I am going to give some updates. At least, on the things that I remember I need to update you on. Perhaps, if there is something you have been eagerly awaiting an update on, or a Burning Question you have for me, you will mention it in the comments, and I will answer it. 

First of all, let’s talk cake. As you know, I did indeed order my own cake from a fancy artisan bakery for my birthday. It was only $35 (I had thought it would be in the $70 range, so $35 seemed like a bargain), and my interactions with the baker/proprietor were 100% via email (which made me love her even more). Carla and my husband happened to be with me when we went to pick up the cake, and Carla was aghast that I was going to see the cake before the appointed candles and singing time. I think this is because I always hide her cake from her until I bring it out with the candles glowing and her family off-keying “Happy Birthday” while she waits at the table. We didn’t do candles or singing for my birthday, which is fine. The cake was GORGEOUS. A sea of lemon curd, ringed by a crown of raspberries. Here, let me show you:

A THING OF BEAUTY

I want to stop there, because it was beautiful, and the lemon curd and raspberries were perfection. But I am sure you are wondering “How did it TASTE?” and there I start feeling a little discomfort. Because I want to tell you that it was perfection… but it was… well, it was almond cake, for starters, when I had requested vanilla. And the buttercream – which was applied in the exact right amount!! – was vanilla as well, when I had requested cream cheese. The layers were separated by both lemon curd and raspberry jam, which was a little odd, but I’d said I wanted lemon curd and if there were raspberries involved, I wouldn’t be mad about it, so she interpreted that in her own way. It was fine! My husband, who likes cake much more than I do, assured me it was a Very Good Cake. And I don’t want to be ungrateful! It was lovely! But it was not what I asked for. Oh well. It was still quite fun and I don’t regret ordering my own cake, or ordering it from this particular bakery. And it is infinitely better to not-love a cake when that cake was baked by someone other than your beloved husband. Edited to add: Okay, I am coming back here to say that it was much more than fine. It was a beautiful, well-made, gourmet cake. It was not exactly to my tastes, but that’s more on me than on the pastry chef who made it for me.

Dinners continue to mystify me lately. I continue to load up my cart with khaki pants and sensible cardigans. I have some pork chops, some tilapia filets, and some beef I can use for stroganoff or stir fry. I also bought a package of chicken, intending to maybe give chicken a go again. We’ll see. But even with all these perfectly serviceable foods in my fridge, I am baffled by what to make. It is currently 5:15 pm and I have NO IDEA what to make for dinner. UPDATE: We are getting takeout from the Lebanese place that does spicy cauliflower. We had tacos last night, and that seems to be the only meal that has ever existed. (Obviously, I could do stroganoff or stir fry, but those things seem much too complicated to implement NOW.) Tell me what you’re having for dinners this week, even though it is somehow already dinnertime on a Wednesday. I could surely use the inspiration.

Speaking of dinner, I have been returning to the stir-fry sauce suggestions post frequently, for ideas. So far, I have only tried yum-yum sauce (per several suggestions) and it was wonderful and rich and perfect with the shrimp I made. My husband also dug a jar of gochujang sauce out of the depths of a cabinet, and I used that on a stir fry one night. It was… okay. Good mainly for its novelty. I think I made a roasted gochujang chicken once many years ago, and the sauce was better in that capacity than it was on stir fry. I will be working my way through the rest of the suggestions, as they are all appealing. Well. Except for the peanut butter suggestions, because I do not care for peanut butter. But I still appreciate your suggesting them as options!!! My husband, for whom peanut butter is a Desert Island Food, would love them!

I can’t remember if I told you this already, so forgive me if I have: Mornings continue to be awful, but we have instituted a new system of rewards and consequences that may or may not be helping. A little. Carla gets a set amount of screen time on the weekends – two hours per day. So we are now tying her morning timeliness to screen time. For every minute past the appointed Leave The House Moment, her screen time is reduced by five minutes. For every minute she is early, she gets two minutes of additional screen time. This worked terribly the first week (she lost nearly all her screen time), and then much better the next week, and less well the next week. In advance of Spring Break, we have sort of relaxed the rules… but I am eager to pick it back up again after Spring Break ends. The best part about it is that I feel less involved in getting out the door, if that makes sense? Obviously, I still want to be on time! But having this system makes the whole thing feel kind of out of my hands, which relieves some of the stress of pushing and pushing and pushing. I don’t know. Ask me later if it’s helping my overall Morning Mood. It’s still too early to tell. 

In the same post linked above, I mentioned that I was fretting over what to do for my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. A couple of people mentioned family photos and that idea kind of knocked me over as The Perfect Thing. But there were so many obstacles to get through to figure out if that were the right gift, or even doable! First, feasibility: we are celebrating the anniversary in a very remote location, so I didn’t know if photographers would be available. Turns out there are MANY photographers in the area, but most specialize in weddings. And that meant $$$. So the next obstacle was cost. I made several requests-for-quotes via online forms, and heard back from one photographer. And then I had to have a phone call with her, which you know I love. She was very nice and her pricing was absolutely reasonable. But then I felt I needed to get buy-in from my parents. Because what if they already had events scheduled for their anniversary weekend? Or what if the idea of dressing up and getting photos taken sounded horrible to them? I was very reluctant to “spoil” the gift – but I decided removing the element of surprise was far preferable to showing up with an expensive photographer and be faced with a group of reluctant subjects. My mother seemed very pleased by the idea, so I booked the photographer. And voila! Gift handled!

Speaking of gifts: I recently learned that my mother’s beloved clay focaccia pan? pot? dish? died a sad untimely death, and she is on the lookout for another one. I would love to get her one, as her birthday is coming up. But I have no idea what the original was like. The only specific I managed to extract from her was that it was CLAY, not cast iron. I have no idea if it was round or square or rectangular or what. And google is NOT helping me out here. A terra cotta cazuela looks like a good candidate, maybe… although I guess I was always under the impression that focaccia was Italian and not Spanish, so a cazuela is perhaps not the most authentic vessel. Or maybe a bread cloche would be better? I am really hoping that you know exactly the thing I need to buy for my mother’s focaccia making purposes. 

My daughter and I watched Turning Red together. While I am glad to have watched it, I can’t say that I LIKED it. Not true of Carla, who has since watched it an additional four times and has been playing 4*Town songs constantly on our Echo. I liked some of it. I liked that it was a movie that touches on the physical and emotional changes kids go through during puberty. (Although I did get a little caught up in trying to make “turning into a red panda” completely analogous with puberty/menstruation, which it is NOT.) I liked that it explored the complexities of mother/daughter relationships, although those parts made me cry. I liked that it showcased the importance of friendship. I liked the diversity of the characters, in race and body shape. And I liked the message that it’s okay to be yourself, even if that self isn’t exactly what your parents want you to be. But there were parts I didn’t love, also. I didn’t love that the main character (Mei Lee) lies and defies her parents… or that the message “be yourself” seems to condone both of those things, as well as other things like physical violence and disrespect. I didn’t love that the changes Mei Lee goes through are referred to as “upsetting” by the mother. (I mean, I get we’re talking about a girl who is literally changing into a red panda, which would be upsetting… but it read to me as though the parents found puberty/menstruation to be upsetting, which seems like the wrong message.) I was mad that Mei Lee’s mother was so heedless of her daughter’s privacy and private inner life. I didn’t love that Mei Lee (and, later, her mother) are so unwilling to be honest about their feelings that they end up lying to their mothers in ways that make things so much worse. And I found it just plain confusing that Mei Lee is fine with being herself, but literally ALL of the other women in her family go through with a special ceremony to suppress their own selves. Kind of a mixed message. Then again, perhaps I am expecting WAY too much out of what is simply a cartoon for children. No movie is perfect, and there is no reason THIS movie should be held to an unreasonable standard. It has plenty of commendable aspects, and my kid likes it. And it sure beats Puppy Dog Pals or The Suite Life of Zak and Cody.  Have you watched it? What did you think?

What are you watching, TV-wise, these days? My husband and I just started watching Severance on AppleTV. It is kind of like Office Space meets Black Mirror and I am hooked. In the universe of the show, a company called Lumon severs its employees’ minds in two. (This is a big controversial thing, in the show’s universe.) While outside the office, you are a normal person except that you have no memories of what goes on while you are in the office. While at the office, your mind is only aware of what goes on in the office; your outside life doesn’t exist. The main character’s best work friend leaves the company due to mysterious circumstances, and the main character tries to put things together both inside and outside of the office… without knowing what his other “half” is doing. It has some dark humor and some very dark moments and some very poignant commentary on grief and some extremely thought-provoking ideas about autonomy, and then there is the mystery of this company and what it does and why. The whole thing is totally captivating. 

What’s new with you?

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continue to feel like a planet whirling so fast it is about to spin off its axis. The frigid vacuum of space sounds pretty pleasant right about now. I wouldn’t be able to breathe, but it would be so quiet

I had a meeting this morning about the school project I am working on. My project partner and I are so lucky a) to have each other (well. I am lucky to have her. Remains to be seen whether I will be useful for anything but flailing.) and b) that the previous head of this project has made herself available to us for questions and coaching. But today’s meeting was… well, let’s say it is A LARGE PART of why I am spinning so fast. It seemed like we would ask a question about how best to execute Task A. And we’d talk through it and get to the end, and then an unrelated topic would insinuate itself into the conversation briefly, and then, BAM, by the way, Unrelated Topic is actually crucial and you need to do it BEFORE you can execute Task A. Like, you’re digging away at this nice deep hole, and then when you get to the bottom, someone yells, “WAIT! You were supposed to dig to the left of this hole first!” So you go back and dig the new hole, but the dirt you displace from the new hole crumbles and fills up the hole you already dug, which you are now going to have to dig again, but in a slightly different way.

Funsies. 

Speaking of meetings! I met with my potential client yesterday. And by “client” I mean one organization, but multiple people. As I mentioned in my previous fret about this encounter, I had no idea what to wear. Not only have I had very very few business encounters since I left full-time work SIX YEARS AGO OMG, but I have also put on quite a lot of weight since then, rendering any very old, out-of-style business wear wholly unwearable. I have this beautiful cream silk blouse that I have kept all these years, so I tried it on, but my boobs kept trying to make a break for it. I figured that boob wrangling would add a layer of stress I didn’t need to my meeting, so I scrapped that idea.

I was to meet the client(s) for coffee, and my Fashionable Friend told me that I could wear jeans and a blouse or a nice sweater for that type of meeting. (Do you have a Fashionable Friend? She is very nice to have around. For lots of regular-friendshippy reasons, but also because she always knows the right answer to style questions.) So I found a nice top and a blazer and wore those with dark jeans and heels. It was the right call: the clients were wearing a range from jeans/leggings to dresses, so I felt nicely in the middle. And I was comfortable, and my boobs behaved themselves. 

The meeting itself was very nice. The organization is one I am familiar with and I love its mission and product. And the people were friendly and smart and totally the type of people I would want to be friends with. It was a little intimidating, being in a room with multiple people, unmasked. But the strangeness of that faded quickly. The single drink option during the meeting was coffee. Which, as you may recall, I do not drink. I am SURE I could have asked for some water, but by the time I had the opportunity, it would have been A Big Pain, so I just went with the coffee option. I AM BREEZY. By the way, not only was it coffee, it was black coffee, which I have never even tasted. And WOWZA did it ever go straight to my head! For a few deeply uncomfortable minutes, I felt sure I would throw up or pass out, which is surely not the best first impression to make upon potential clientele. You will be pleased to learn (as I was) that I neither vomited nor swooned, and made it through, hopefully leaving them with the feeling that I am friendly and competent and not a weird socially awkward mole who hasn’t been around people in two years. 

I am getting more and more excited about our upcoming travel. But oh Mylanta there is SO MUCH LAUNDRY. I wish people would just stop wearing clothing so that I can get allllllll the laundry done and folded. Then we can set aside the things we want to pack for the trip, and make do with whatever remains. 

Also, my husband – who is legitimately WILDY busy at work, and never gets home before seven anymore – did a couple loads of laundry over the weekend. I discovered today that he had left the clean clothes in the laundry basket. A, I appreciate that he did some laundry; that is awesome. And B, I am constantly leaving laundry in the basket, or on top of the guest room bed, sometimes for many many days. But it still made me feel betrayed and petulant. 

Speaking of betrayed and petulant: Poor deprived Carla wailed at me today that she has no clothes!!!! and I never do any laundry!!!! and look at her overflowing laundry basket!!!!! The same child who has an entire closet full of dresses, and an entire drawer full of jeans and corduroys that she begged me to buy for her at the beginning of the school year. 

What did she end up wearing? Leggings and a t-shirt. And because it is still chilly here, I dredged up a sweater for her to throw on top. 

WHERE are all her sweaters, I wonder? Perhaps in the overflowing laundry bin, which I must once again put through the wash. I did notice that the bottom drawer of her dresser doesn’t close all the way, and it seems to be because there are some shirts that have fallen back behind the drawer, into the empty space of the dresser. But I cannot for the life of me get to them! The dresser is bolted to the wall and the bottom of the dresser doesn’t have enough room for me stick even a pair of kitchen tongs under. I guess the shirts will stay there until we move someday? Or perhaps we will have to figure out how to take the drawer off its track? But who knows how many shirts and sweaters are hiding back there! 

I am stressing about the keeping-keto portion of our vacation. Part of me wants to just give it up and eat as though I am on vacation… but part of me is deeply reluctant to cede the small amount of ground I have gained. Fortunately, most restaurants (YES, we will be eating in restaurants!!! Ahhhhh!!!!) offer things like steak or salmon. I will simply have to resist things like mashed potatoes and baked potatoes and French fries and desserts. Sounds doable, if not fun, but I suspect my resolve may crumble when everyone else around me is eating something delicious that I “can’t” have. My biggest hurdle, I think, will be hamburgers. I LOVE a hamburger, and I LOVE a nice buttery toasty bun, and I LOVE ketchup, none of which are keto-friendly. Well. We’ll see how it goes. 

Speaking of keto, I have ZERO IDEA what we will eat for dinner this week. It seems wholly unfair to have to keep planning and preparing meals when I am already planning and preparing for a trip. Maybe we will do a stir fry, using one of the MANY delicious ideas you suggested on this post? Maybe a pizza night? Maybe… a salad? I feel like I have some veggies I want to use up before we leave. Some sort of… roasted veggies smorgasbord? 

This period of Too Much Too Much Ahhhhhhh! has served as a valuable reminder to me of just how critical my daily workout it. I am not winning any ab competitions or even doing any sort of visible toning (perhaps there is a LOT of tone beneath the fat and skin; hard to say), but working out is almost the only thing that makes me feel tethered to reality. Sweating for a half hour, grunting my way through a bunch of awful squats, hefting weights over my head, focusing only on the directions/encouragement of the coach while I grind out another rep – whatever it is, it helps my thoughts slow their frantic dash around my brain. (And I know I have recommended her before, but I just adore Lindsey of Nourish Move Love. She is extremely kind and supportive and offers tons of modifications if you don’t have weights/don’t want to bend your knees so deeply/don’t own a booty band. And she does all the exercises with you, panting and groaning over the tough parts, which makes it all seem doable.)

I am going to leave you with some flowers. As per Swistle, I did not wait until my previous flowers had perished to replace them. Instead, I bought a new bouquet and added it to the original group. Carla requested white tulips, so white tulips it is. 

Last week’s batch are definitely looking a little faded and saggy. But you know what? They have their own beauty despite their age. And they are still standing

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Meal planning, grocery store reports, and randomosity. Seems like that’s all I can dredge up for a blog post these days. Thank you for reading anyway.

(Perhaps you could use one of your over-long randomosity bullets as its own blog post! you might suggest. Ah. If only my brain were capable of processing posts in manageable bite sizes instead of epic book-length tomes.) 

  • I finally got my hair cut and colored this week. My original appointment was a month ago. But the day before I was scheduled to see her, my hair stylist canceled because she had Covid. And then the day before I was rescheduled to see her, I thought I had Covid. My hair was very, very grey and now it is very, very brown and I am deeply grateful to my hair stylist. This time, she also dyed my eyebrows. You will have to trust me when I say that I currently look exactly like Uncle Leo. (The dye has temporarily adhered to the skin beneath my brows, and my hair stylist promises it will wash out in a day or so. Until then, I say, “Hello!”)
The resemblance is uncanny.
  • (This is not a new bullet, but WordPress disagrees.) Aside from the absolutely ridiculous name, I love it. It has the base primer, which makes my lashes super long. And then it has the top layer. And it’s waterproof so it never runs or smudges. It is a little difficult to remove, but it stays on so well I don’t mind. Since we are all wearing masks for the next FOREVER, it is my new best friend. I wore it skiing the other day, when it was snowing so heavily that my family and I were human moguls by the time we reached the top of the chair lift. And I made the mistake of putting my goggles on top of my helmet, where they immediately became crusted with snow and ice, which rendered them completely unusable, so I had to spend the rest of the day with snow flying directly into my face. My mascara did not budge.
Yes, that is a sliver of my actual forehead. Titillating.
  • Who was it that recommended I watch Sex EducationMy husband and I just finished Season 2 and I love it. The first season was good. I wasn’t crazy about the premise: Otis, son of beautiful sex therapist Gillian Anderson, starts offering a sex advice clinic of his own at school, with the help of prickly bad girl Maeve. For the entirety of Season 1, I had to suspend a LOT of disbelief, and plus the advice that Otis charged for seemed really basic – like no one could simply google their issues and get the exact same solution? But the characters were interesting, and I became Very Invested in a couple of the side stories, so we went straight into Season 2. And it was GREAT. The cast of characters are so fun and interesting. Everyone is complex and has their own inner struggles. I love how diverse the cast is (although there could be a little more size diversity), and I love how plainly and non-judgmentally a wide variety of sexual preferences are portrayed, and I love the friendship between Otis and his best friend Eric, and I love Gillian Anderson even though her character can be kind of irritating. Anyway: it is a really different, interesting show and I am hoping my husband will be up for jumping right into Season 3. (This may sound like “no, duh” advice, but if you aren’t interested in seeing/hearing about pretty graphic sex acts, I would skip this show.)
  • Has it been cold in your neck of the woods? It’s been cold here, but nowhere near as cold as it COULD be. I grew up in the land of Minus Sixty Degrees, so I am pretty blasé about our current in-the-teens temps. We do have some pretty serious icicle action going on though. These guys are all come at me bro and I want to say, Whoa, whoa, whoa. Chill out, my dude. No need to get so defensive.
  • Where I was originally going with the previous bullet was that my office is quite frigid lately. I used to have a space heater, one that’s so old I can’t remember when or how or why I acquired it. It died last year. Is it still sitting forlornly in the corner of my office, mourning its inability to fulfill its life purpose? Yes. Despite my sympathy for the defunct space heater, I decided to buy a new space heater and I found this little guy. So far, I really like it. I park it in the middleish of my office and direct it toward my desk, and it definitely makes the space warmer. I think it would be perfect for a cubicle or a small office. It has a little handle, and it is very sensitive to being bumped, and I really like it. It’s little, too – about the height of a hard-bound book, and a very cute little fella. Because as we all know, cuteness is a key factor in which space heater to buy.
  • Not that I’ve been in my office a whole lot this week. Even though I am supposed to be doing revisions, I have instead been traipsing all over hither and thither for all sorts of stupid appointments. Annual gyn appointment. Annual mammogram. Routine physical to establish with a new PCP. Hair appointment. Financial advisor appointment. PTA meeting about something I volunteered for. And then I just had to make a bunch of phone calls (UGH) to set up more appointments. Eye appointments for me and Carla. Dental appointment. Car maintenance appointment. Ugh ugh ugh. I hate being on the phone and I feel like my schedule is BOOKED for the rest of the year. 
Actual text between me and my husband. He is very accommodating.
  • May I complain a moment about the central scheduling system my healthcare provider has? I spent a very long time on the phone with a scheduler, trying to set up eye appointments for myself and Carla. And while I am grateful that I could call one number and get appointments for us both, with different doctors, I am… a little concerned. I explained my time/date parameters, and she found a time and a date. So I plugged them into my calendar on my phone. And then she said, “Okay, I have you scheduled on DATE at TIME.” But… that was not the date she and I had agreed on! So I asked her to double check it, and she confirmed the original date and time, in a tone of voice that indicated I should have been paying closer attention. And then when I scheduled Carla’s appointment, she said, “Oh, I have an appointment on the same day as your appointment – DATE.” But the date she said was not the date we’d agreed on, so I had to ask her to double check it again. Also for Carla, I picked a specific location near our house, and a specific time of day (after school, because the doctor will need to dilate her eyes). The scheduler set it all up, and then said, “Oh, I scheduled it for DIFFERENT LOCATION. Is that okay?” I said no, could we please find a date at the nearby office. And she said sure, and then offered several early morning times… when we had just discussed that the appointment needed to be in the afternoon. FINALLY we got it scheduled, and then she told me the date and time, and they were different from what I had just plugged into my calendar! It was a very confusing call, and I really, really hope that Carla and I are scheduled correctly. 

  • In my never-ending quest to find ways to use the bananas that eventually soften into mush before anyone (ahem, CARLA) eats them, I attempted a new recipe. It was a MAGICAL recipe, let me tell you. Elisabeth posted it on her blog, and it sounded ideal for my particular child: it contains oats (which she will eat RAW by the bowl), bananas, and chocolate chips. It also used dates, which I had on hand from the sticky toffee pudding we never ate. No liquid though, which I felt was surely a mistake. But no! As soon as I turned on the blender, the banana liquified and the ingredients morphed into a beautiful, uniform batter. I was generous with the chocolate chips. The cupcakes were so easy and seemed so wholesome. And none of my family members liked them. HUGE WEARY SIGH. [CLARIFICATION: They are not dry. They are perfect. If they didn’t have a banana flavor, which I cannot stand, I would have eaten them myself.]
I think they LOOK beautiful, but apparently they are “too DRY, Mommy.”

  • I need some advice about my “mud room,” even though I am pretty sure that my situation is un-fixable. As I have complained about at great length in the past, my “mud room” is a teeny tiny square of space between my garage and kitchen, with a shoe closet on one side. We come in through the garage, remove our shoes, toss them in the general direction of the shoe closet, and then enter the kitchen. It’s not great normally, but currently, with the deep snow we find ourselves in, it’s reached a fever pitch of untenability. Our feet are wet and muddy, so the floor gets wet and muddy. And there’s no easy way to remove one’s shoes and then step into the kitchen, so mud and dirt inevitably get tracked into the kitchen and then all around the house. I am zooping things constantly. I am spraying and wiping the floor constantly. And then, multiple times a day, the floor is a filthy mess again. Plus, the shoe closet is FULL. There is NO ROOM for all the snow boots that have assembled. The other closet, where I store the snow boots in dry weather, is too far away for us to reasonably store the boots in between wearings. And because some people like to wear normal shoes when it’s not actively snowing, I can’t simply stow the regular footwear in the other closet. I guess I could move SOME of the shoes, so that we could put our boots INSIDE the closet, instead of outside. But that still doesn’t resolve the Mud and Dirt issue. I would love to get a boot tray… but the “mud room” is so small that a boot tray would make it impossible to open the door. I don’t think a boot tray would fit inside the shoe closet, either. It’s tiny, plus we already have a shoe shelf in there, taking up most of the real estate. You will have to believe me that there is no In the Garage Solution, either; our garage is tiny, and there is barely enough room to squeeze past our cars to get inside. We cannot remove our shoes outside before we come in. So. Is there some obvious solution I am overlooking? Or is this just a Grit Your Teeth and Keep Zooping situation?
  • This may be really silly question, but if you track your reading, and you also have children, do you track the books you read with/to your children? I track the books I read on Goodreads, and I never used to count the books I read to Carla. (Mostly because my husband is the primary bedtime reader in our household – his accents are MUCH higher quality.) But I have making an effort to read to her more often outside of bedtime, and we just finished Frindle and I tracked it. I mean, I read the entire thing. Out loud. So I want credit. Credit that matters literally only to me. 
  • By the way, have you read Frindle yet? It was seriously such a good book. It’s about a boy named Nick and his teacher Mrs. Granger. As part of an effort to distract Mrs. Granger from teaching/assigning homework, Nick decides to make up his own word for a pen (frindle), and then launches a campaign to make frindle the real word for an ink-filled writing implement. It was a fun book about how words come to be, and how students can make a difference, and how important good teachers are. My voice was wobbling all over the place as I read the last two chapters. It was really such a lovely, fun, moving book. Carla liked it too, but being a child and not a parent/former child, she didn’t fully understand the beauty of the Nick/Mrs. Granger relationship. 

That seems as good a note to end on as any. I need to go gear myself up to make yet another phone call and schedule yet another appointment. And then I have two meetings today. Blech. 

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I have done it! I have done the thing I always think I should do, and never do, which is to GET UP when I awaken in the middle of the night and do something more useful than lying awake, counting how many hours of sleep I could get if I fell asleep right then.

Lest you think I am no longer susceptible to the patterns of the past: I woke up at 3:00 a.m., almost on the dot, and then lay in bed/read soothing blog posts until 4:00, and then lay in bed in the dark, telling myself I should just GET UP ALREADY and start the day until 4:37. That’s when I finally Did The Thing and put on my glasses and came downstairs. I deserve a Sleep Award. Although, now that I think of it, a Sleep Award seems more appropriate for sleeping restfully through an entire eight-plus hours, so perhaps I’ll have to relinquish my claim.

In lieu of an award, I am drinking tea, as I do when I wake up. My stomach is a little uncomfortable with this idea – it thinks it is Sleeping Time, rather than Accepting Sustenance Time. It is also a little concerned about what time we will want lunch. 

If only the grocery store were open now, and I could get that over with! Oh well. I will blog about random nothings instead! 

  • Carla has been having extra trouble getting to sleep lately. Firstly, I feel just terrible that she has apparently inherited my fraught relationship with sleep. She has had trouble falling asleep her entire eight-and-a-half years, and that doesn’t bode well for the remainder of her life, which I hope is very long. At least, I suppose, she seems to be able to maintain sleep once she gets there. While I occasionally have trouble getting to sleep, my main issue is staying asleep.
  • Well, I suppose my brain is smoothing over the many, many times that Carla has come into my room at 3:00 or 4:00, or that I have awakened to learn that she had been awake for hours already. BUT, it seems less frequent than her troubles drifting off. The power of posting about something of the internet will immediately ensure that she wakes up at 3:00 every morning for the next month.
  • The only thing that comes close to the frustration of not being able to fall asleep is the frustration of one’s CHILD not being able to fall asleep. Last night, my husband and I were watching the first episode of Sex Education and I kept hearing suspicious thumps coming from upstairs. It was quite windy outside, and my husband felt that the thumps might be exterior noises, while I was quite sure they were human. And then we had one of those mildly irritating conversations I imagine happen frequently in any longterm partnership, where he said, “Do you want to go check on her?” and I said “yes,” because I’d HEARD “Do you want ME to go check on her?” And then he had to correct my misperception and I had to glare at him briefly before I went to investigate the source of the thumps. 
  • Thump source: Carla. Instead of reading quietly or thinking about sheep or doing deep breathing – all of which we have discussed AT LENGTH in regards to their soporific powers – she felt the best way to induce sleep was to get out of bed and gather some toys and play with them, in the bed. On the bed. Preposition the bed. Exasperation! Incredulity! How did she think this was a good way to get to sleep? And yet she seemed very sincere that she thought it would help. Trying to turn down the scold volume on my lecture, I removed the toys and reminded her of all the other options that we have discussed for helping lull our brains to sleep. Count backwards from 100. Count backwards by 5s from 1000. Imagine yourself, in great detail, walking along the route to somewhere you love. List 50 things you are grateful for. Go through the alphabet and name an animal beginning with each letter. Do some deep breathing. Read a book. Recite a poem over and over in your head. When I went back to check on her about 20 minutes later, she was fast asleep. Sometimes it seems like the BEST way to induce sleep is to scold her about it. Which seems… not right. 
  • Carla mentioned to me that she cannot see pictures in her head, so the “walking along the route to somewhere you love” isn’t a viable option for her. I love that she’s so aware of what it’s like inside her head. I don’t see pictures in my head either, but I guess my internal travel writer is so descriptive that I can still make that option work. Or I can drum up a feeling of a place that is almost as vivid as an image. 
  • Also, it is unfair of me to expect that she remember these techniques when I am terrible at remembering them myself! Only when I am DESPERATE for sleep do I recall most of these strategies. The one that I use most often – mentally reciting Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” until I fall asleep – sometimes doesn’t even occur to me in the middle of a 3:00 am wakeup. Instead, I turn to my phone, which almost certainly makes it HARDER for me to sleep. 
  • There was supposed to be a secondly somewhere up there. I suppose you have forgotten about it as well. But on the off chance you were waiting on tenterhooks – “You did the ‘firstly,’ what’s the ‘secondly’? WHAT’S THE SECONDLY?” – I cannot remember. 
  • I have finished my first book of poetry for the year. One of my 2022 aspirations is to read a poem every morning, and I have been keeping up with that so far. However, I may not have chosen the best book to start out the year. I selected a book at random and came up with The Seven Ages by Louise Gluck. She has an umlaut over the u in her surname; I don’t how to do that on my computer. I adore Louise’s poetry. (This makes it sound as though we are on a first-name basis, which we are not. I did meet her once, though. We went out to lunch and she is as fascinating as one hopes a famous poet would be.) But The Seven Ages is all about her contemplating her own death. That’s all fine and good, and it resonates, and I appreciate reading her thoughts from the perspective of being 50ish because I am nearing that age. But it was also a little depressing. Perhaps I will try a Billy Collins book next; I own two of his collections, but I don’t think I’ve ever read the poems; my impression is that they are lighter and sometimes attempt to be humorous.
  • One of the Gluck poems has really stuck with me. It’s called “The Sensual World,” which, in my opinion, mis-implies what the poem is about or how to read it. But poems are very personal, so you do you, boo. Anyway, the poem is about how the world will grip you in startling and unpredictable and inescapable ways. There is this moment of exquisite beauty that the narrator recounts, in the kitchen of her grandmother. A tiny moment: a glass of juice; its taste; the way the light refracts through it. But it leads the narrator to offer an urgent warning about the trap that life has set for you: “you will never let go, you will never be satiated. / You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger. / Your body will age, you will continue to need. / You will want the earth, then more of the earth – / Sublime, indifferent, it is present, it will not respond. / It is encompassing, it will not minister. / Meaning, it will feed you, it will ravish you, / it will not keep you alive.” It makes my heart pound, it resonates so deeply. I am so familiar with those moments – of shocking beauty that flares suddenly out of the mundane, of intense love provoked by the smallest, most inconsequential thing (a kitten at the pet store, butting its head against your hand; a child seeing you in distress and trying to soothe you with the very techniques you use to soothe the child; an unexpected kindness from a stranger; a moment of private humor with a spouse; a child, asleep, with hands folded beneath the chin as though posed). And I know the exact feeling of wanting to clutch those things with both hands even as I know – we all know – they are not ours to keep. It is not our lot to hold them forever, but only for the short time we have on this plane of existence. You will never let go. It will not keep you alive.
  • Yesterday, I experienced one of those moments of satisfaction/guilt that seem to be a hallmark of parenting. Carla was really anxious about returning to school (who knows why?!?! Is it the constant barrage of contradictory information, such as “Covid isn’t a big deal since you’re vaccinated; don’t worry too much, it probably won’t affect you too much if you get it” but also “make SURE you wear your mask and don’t breathe on anyone and for Todd’s sake, please don’t let anyone breathe on you!” Is it the fact that she hasn’t been in school for a month? Is it the fact that “school” could mean home/not home at any given time?) so I had to bribe her to even get her out the door yesterday morning. The bribe is not the satisfaction/guilt part, although perhaps it should be; it worked. I bribed her with a chocolate chip cookie for dessert (we are reverting to a “desserts on weekends” kind of schedule) AND with “something fun.” (She claims she never ever gets to do what SHE wants, all she does is go to SCHOOL.) I told her she could pick anything non-screen related, and she picked playing Barbies together. Sigh. I haaaaaaaate pretend play. It is the worst. But I agreed, and after school we played Barbies for 30 minutes exactly. Which is nothing. A tiny amount of my day. Then, when we were doing our bedtime mindfulness routine, and we got to the part about “what were you grateful for today?”, Carla said, “I was grateful that I got to play Barbies with Mommy.” No hesistation. Awwww. What a worthwhile way to spend our time together! But also: guilt, because I HATE playing Barbies. And yet it is such a simple way to make my beloved child so happy! Ugh ugh ugh. Well, I am not promising anything, but I will TRY to do more Barbies with Carla. 
  • A thing it turns out I DO enjoy is playing Sleeping QueensDo you have this game? I ordered it on a “my child is not doing enough math” whim last weekend and it is QUITE fun. There’s a video on the product page that describes how to play; it seems much more complicated than it is. And it’s a much faster-paced game than I anticipated. The basic object is that you want to get as many queens as possible. To get the queens, or to keep your opponent from getting queens, or to prevent your opponent from getting your queens, you need special cards. Your only chance to get the special cards is to discard a card from your hand. And – here’s the math element – you can draw more cards if you have an equation. So if you have cards in the values of 1, 5, and 7, you can only discard one of them and pick up one new card. But if you have 2, 5, and 7, you can make an equation and discard all three; then you can draw three cards. If you have/know a child in the young elementary age group, I highly recommend it. Because the number cards only go up to ten, the math is quite easy for Carla (although there’s no harm in keeping up with basic addition and subtraction), but it would be ideal for someone who is just learning to add/subtract. We also do multiplication, when it’s possible. I really wish there were an expansion pack with higher-value numbers. Anyway, I find it to be a really fun game and we have already played at least a dozen times. BONUS: This is a game that you can easily play with two people, which means that we don’t have to wait for Daddy to be home. 
  • I made my first foray into baked oatmeal. I am a little reluctant to post about it, because I didn’t love it. And I WANT to love it. It was both better than I thought it would be and worse than I hoped. But I think I chose the wrong (for me) recipe. It called for coconut oil, which – to me (though not to my husband) – ending up being the predominant flavor. I wanted an APPLE flavor. Also, I don’t think I put in enough nuts. The nuts were my favorite part. I need to do more experimentation before I can make a firm decision about not liking it. I think I will try this recipe next. 
  • I had a mildly negative interaction the other day that is still gnawing at me. It’s one of those things where the situation felt very fraught, almost purely because I am overly concerned with what people think of me. And the rest of it was fraught because it involved Covid, and I am caught in a wildly swinging internal pendulum of “you can’t control it and you need to find some way to live with it without forcing your child to be a miserable hermit” and “it is perfectly reasonable to continue to take precautions for the sake of those who aren’t protected/in order to keep Carla in school ” and “if you allow Carla to go to school, then how is this situation different” and “it is okay to have boundaries and limits even if they seem arbitrary; everything seems arbitrary right now” and “you and Carla are both vaccinated, you really can relax a little sheesh” and “arrrrrggghhhhhh.” I fervently wish I were the type of person who a) knows the exact right thing to do in any given situation and b) doesn’t care what other people think of me. I am neither of those people though, I am me. And as much as I try to be breezy, breeziness is not in my nature. And I DO care what people think, and I hate that about myself but I do.
  • Totally related to the above point: It is not fair to present a situation in one way, with clear parameters, and then to change the parameters in the moment. It is especially not okay to then pressure people into accepting the new parameters. 
  • Gah.
  • We have a new addition to our Dinner Plan this week. My husband requested Taco Tuesday. I think you know that I will never turn down a request for tacos. This is the beauty of planning out fewer meals than one intends to eat. You can just slide tacos right into the mix, no biggie. It is especially helps when you haven’t yet made it to the grocery store.
  • That reminds me that I have my check-up this morningIt is a totally normal check-up, so it should be fine. But it’s with a new doctor, in a new office, in a new location. So I am a little anxious about all of those things. Will I find the office okay? Will I get there on time? Will I like the doctor? Also, will I meet her for the first time while naked? That’s never fun. And then I have to do it all over again in a couple of weeks, because my PCP is retiring and I had to find a new one. (Hopefully I won’t have to meet her naked, though.)

Well, that’s it. I am already painfully aware that today is going to be a grind to get through; my 3:00 a.m. alertness has eroded into fatigue. But blogging is a much better way to spend the early hours of the morning than tossing and turning next to my blissfully sleeping husband, waiting futilely for sleep to bless me with its presence. 

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The grocery store was a madhouse this morning. Not unexpected, I suppose, considering it is the week of Thanksgiving here in the U.S. But still… I guess I hoped that it wouldn’t be too wild at 8:00 am. Oh well. I emerged unscathed (except for my checking account; hot turkey leg food is EXPENSIVE).

Iceberg lettuce, I am sure you will be relieved to hear, was on sale for $2.50 a head. (Sarcasm font.) Pancakes, of any size, are still completely absent from the frozen section – I need to see an in-depth investigative report on WHY frozen pancakes are a) so much hotter a commodity these days than in The Time Before, and b) so difficult to replenish/keep on the shelves. I read somewhere – oh yes; I googled what in the sizzling griddle is going on with pancakes, and found a tweet by some other miffed mother wanting some pancake clarity. The Eggo twitter account responded, which is kind of cool… but their response was both vague and unsatisfying:

Seriously. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH FROZEN PANCAKES. My grocery store doesn’t even have space for pancakes anymore. It’s not like there is a big gaping pancake hole indicating where the few boxes of pancakes had been before they were snatched immediately off the shelves by lucky pancake hunters… Instead, the waffle selection has swollen to disproportionate sizes, making it seem as though there were never any pancakes at all. When things like lunchables and pasta and flour were hard to come by, there was still space for them on the shelves. So I feel like there just are no pancakes. (I suppose my grocery store could just have gotten really adept at filling shelf gaps, to create the illusion of well-stocked shelves… but there was NO MAPLE SYRUP today, and where they should have been on the shelf was just a gaping nothingness, so…) I am assuming, based on absolutely no data at all, that pancake machinery is being used to support some other in-demand food stuff… but I can’t for the life of me think what it is. Or maybe Big Waffle is trying to eradicate pancakes from the planet. Whatever is going on, the pancake supply chain seems to have completely collapsed, at least in my area.

You may have surmised, based on the frenetic tone of the above, that I am still in the midst of my coffee experiment. Even though I am a regular drinker of both black tea and caffeinated soda, and even though I never notice an appreciable difference in personal caffeination (although if I skip my tea, I do get a headache, so obviously the caffeine is doing something), I feel like coffee is different. It’s like an injection of liquid energy, except not the kind of energy I can direct toward productive things like exercise or work; it’s more like squirrel energy, where my movements become rapid and jerky and I get easily distracted by acorns.

My husband, a legit coffee connoisseur, made me some of his good coffee this morning. He did so yesterday as well. (Saturday, and there is no reason for me to tell you this, but, squirrel, he slept in because he was coming off 12 straight days of work plus he was recovering from his Covid booster, so I drank my regular tea.) He grinds his own beans and has some sort of special drip coffee maker and I am supposed to believe that these things make the coffee much smoother. It is certainly much less bitter/nauseating than the pre-ground pumpkin coffee I drank last week when I began this experiment, but I am still suspicious. Coffee is coffee, right? I do find that I absolutely need to eat something before/during the coffee drinking, otherwise I feel very queasy indeed. This morning, I had a slice of apple cider donut blondie that my husband and daughter made yesterday. It is very tasty, but I have to warn you: it tastes NOTHING of apple cider. Which is deeply disappointing, because my husband had to reduce the apple cider by half and it took close to an hour to do so. Apple cider appearance or no, these blondies are soft and crumbly on the inside and crunchy around the edges and go very nicely with coffee. However, this may prove to be too much sugar for my stomach to handle in tandem with the squirrel surge of caffeine.

I apparently drink coffee much darker than I do tea.

Hey! This week is Thanksgiving, at least at my house, and I am looking forward to a very low-key day with just the three of us. I am making a turkey breast (America’s Test Kitchen recipe) (although I bought a couple of wing pieces to help enhance the drippings for the gravy), and my mother’s goat-cheese-garlic-mashed potatoes, and mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows for my daughter, and cranberry sauce, and apple crisp. It still sounds like a lot of food and cooking, but I don’t have to make dressing (my husband agreed to let me buy it, pre-made, from Whole Foods, where we are getting our turkey breast), and we can sit around in our pajamas all day if we want and I feel like this is going to be a nice break before the crush of the Christmas holiday.

(By the way, in searching for my Thanksgiving recipes, I came across last year’s post about Thanksgiving. And I have ZERO RECOLLECTION OF ANY OF IT. Apparently we didn’t do cranberry sauce or dressing last year, either? Apparently we did a family Zoom? Apparently we made something called an apple sharlotka? NO MEMORY OF ANY OF IT.)

Hanukkah begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I am dithering over whether to make sufganiyot again. I really liked them, and it was fun to share them with our neighbor. But they really are best when fresh out of the fryer, so I don’t know if it’s worth doing again. Carla expressed interest in making some cookies, so maybe I will look into that. And maybe we will save a Hanukkah baking project for the end of Hanukkah instead of the beginning.

Dinners for the Week of November 22-November 28

What are you most looking forward to eating this week? If you celebrate Thanksgiving, what will your celebration look like this year? And do YOU remember last year’s Thanksgiving? Why has it been erased so thoroughly from my brain? Is there some sort of insidious black hole that is devouring pancakes and memories?

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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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November is really putting on a show for us: bright blue skies, occasional spits of tiny snowballs, lots of sunshine. Even the sunrises seem more brilliant and showy than normal. I am a fan. Plus, I am eating leftover black bean tacos for breakfast with great relish. (Hmm. Relish is a little confusing in that sentence, considering relish is also a food. But let me assure you that I will never eat relish, with relish or otherwise.) Your comments on my breakfast post were so reassuring and I am intrigued by many of your ideas and bolstered by your reassurances that eating lunch food at 8:15 is perfectly acceptable. (I had leftover chicken vindaloo for breakfast yesterday and it was magnificent.)

Completely deviating from my typical pattern of grumpishness/food talk, here is some HAPPY randomosity. I have somehow restricted it to five bullet points. Don’t worry, I have made each bullet point much more wordy than necessary to make up for how few there are.

  • I forgot to tell you about Halloween! Carla was a witch – a very glittery witch – and we happened to have beautiful clear, cool weather for Halloween. Often it is raining, but not this year! We stayed in our cul-de-sac, and all four of us accompanied Carla on her trick-or-treating sojourn. It was very pleasant to walk around, and I was reminded of just how wonderful our neighborhood is. We have SUCH nice neighbors. Even though we did not end up buying any candy whatsoever because my husband didn’t want to have a bunch of people coming to the door (I tried suggesting the Nicole Method, of mask and tongs, HI NICOLE!, but he wasn’t having it), probably 95% of our neighbors handed out candy. Most of them were sitting on folding chairs behind tables set up in their garages or on their driveways, with big bowls of candy on top. It worked really well and I think it persuaded my husband that there IS a way to hand out candy safely. Our neighbors all know Carla, especially those with dogs, and greeted her with glee. I was so charmed and touched to see how many of them had special treat bags set aside for her, or had full-size candy bars squirreled away for her. A couple of our neighbors even had treat for the adults – beer and little bottles of liquor and beef jerky “for the fathers.” It was such a nice evening, and Carla seemed content to tour our cul-de-sac for an hour and come home. Perfect Halloweening! And then the next morning, as soon as she was off to school, I put away all the Halloween décor. You know I love my bats and my ghosts, but with two extra bodies in the house (I am referring to my in-laws, not to murder victims; am not a murderer) they were starting to feel a bit oppressive. Literally the only person who noticed everything was gone was Carla, but that’s fine. I noticed, and feel that much less crowded.
  • My root canal is over and done with. Aside from a major headache and some lingering jaw soreness, which the endodontist indicated would last for a few days, I feel fine. AND, better yet, I can drink liquid of all temperatures again without pain. Doing the conscious sedation was a good choice for me. I was SO anxious about the root canal that the anesthesiologist kept telling me that he was going as fast he could so that he could calm me down. He was very nice and friendly and very by the book. He made sure to tell me, very clearly, that I could not drive or operate machinery for a day after the procedure; he said he had to tack on the second part after calling to check on a patient, and learning that the patient was outside using a chainsaw to cut down trees. According to my husband, when we left the procedure, I told the anesthesiologist that I was going to go home and use my chainsaw, and the guy was NOT amused. (I also told him that I had asked my husband if I could take a Xanax on the way to the procedure, but that my husband said the conscious sedation would cover that for me; the anesthesiologist was alarmed, and asked me several times to confirm that I had NOT, in fact, taken a Xanax. Not much for joking around, that guy. I’m glad I didn’t take my husband’s advice to tell him I ate an egg McMuffin for breakfast. You aren’t supposed to eat anything after midnight the night before, and I think he would have been distinctly unamused.)

  • As I mentioned, we are having a truly glorious display of fall right now. The trees were late to color, but now I’d say they are at their peak. All these beautiful maples, competing with one another over who can don the most fabulous autumn frock, boasting colors that you rarely see outside of a box of crayons. I have been walking every morning, despite the chill in the air, and I am constantly marveling at the trees and their outrageous plumage. It makes me so happy. I do wish that I could capture just how glorious the colors are, but my iPhone photography skills leave a lot to be desired. Plus, while a suburban tree shining just so in the morning sunlight is truly gorgeous, it is difficult to separate the trees/sunshine from the homes/power lines portion of the image. So you will just have to imagine an especially vivid fall suburbscape all on your own.

  • My in-laws decided to give us a little break and checked into a hotel last night. I think they are coming back here when my sister-in-law leaves, and maybe that is part of why they made the move: to be closer to her. But they positioned their departure as giving us a little break, and it is quite lovely. One of the hard things about having extra people in my house – especially when they are all night owls – is that I feel like I never get to talk to my husband. It’s hard for me to elbow my way through the throng to kiss him hello when he gets home, and forget about having any sort of private conversation before I slink off to bed, by myself, at ten. Last night, my in-laws left at about nine and my husband and I sat on the couch together and he told me all about work and I told him all about a phone call I had with a potential new client and we caught up on all the day-to-day things that we hadn’t really had a chance to share lately. It was SO NICE. Also nice: After our conversation, he wanted to go work on his music and I poured a (possibly too large) glass of wine and curled up on the couch and watched Seinfeld reruns all by myself. Even though I stayed up much too late, I feel partially restored. Maybe once I get back from my walk I will be all the way there.

  • I have been saving the best for last. Yesterday, I scheduled Carla’s Covid vaccine appointments!!!! She gets her first dose next week which means she will be all vaccinated before the new year. I am SO EXCITED. It took awhile for me to get to the excitement stage. I woke up Wednesday to texts from two of my mom friends who told me that Walgreens was scheduling vaccine appointments. I immediately booked Carla a spot, even though I would rather have her go to the pediatrician: she has extreme shot anxiety, and I think being in a familiar location with a familiar person administering the shot would be much better than going to a Walgreens thirty minutes from our house and having a harried stranger do it. But getting the appointment was important and I did it. I was kind of dreading the whole thing: dreading telling Carla she has to get two more shots, dreading the topic coming up around my in-laws (who, in prior conversation, have been opposed to us giving Carla the vaccine; we have purposely avoided the topic since this discovery because a) we don’t want to argue and b) we definitely don’t want Carla to hear and then feel more worried, but it’s possible their views have changed since we last discussed it), dreading the possibility of Carla suffering side effects, dreading the very-rare-but-not-nonexistent possibility of more serious issues resulting from the vaccine, dreading the entire thought of being a parent and making decisions for your child that could alter their futures in potentially negative ways, etc. Then, at 1:57 p.m., I got an email from my pediatrician saying they were scheduling Covid vaccinations. I called IMMEDIATELY. I was on hold for thirty minutes, but instead of getting irritated by the long wait, every minute that passed made me more and more giddy with excitement. Because the only reason they weren’t answering my phone call was because they were fielding so many calls from other parents trying to get vaccinations for their kids! The stupid hold music interspersed with repetitive messages about how important it is to get a colonoscopy and interrupted at intervals with “your call is important to us” started to sound like hope. Hope that Covid will soon be as mundane as the flu, hope that someday soon our kids can play together, indoors, without masks, hope that we can travel with less trepidation, hope that we can worry less, hope that fewer and fewer people will get sick and fewer still will die. I am feeling gleeful again, just typing it out! Upon learning that I’d scheduled her vaccine, Carla’s first reaction was YAY! She was PUMPED! She had so many excited questions: could she have friends over once they are vaccinated, and would they be able to play without masks, and would she be able to maybe have a sleepover with someone, and would she be able to visit her cousin without masks on, and would her school stop requiring mask wearing. A lot of questions I could not answer, but it really reminded me how eager even our adaptable, resilient, go-with-the-flow kids are to return to some sort of pre-Covid connectivity with others. When she realized that the vaccine is a shot, and there could be side effects, she was less pumped. But that’s just a normal anxiety around shots in general. And once I told her that she could choose a treat for afterward – ice cream or a donut were the treats I suggested; she added cake or mini cheesecake to the list – she switched her focus to the all-important task of which treat and when. (I think she landed on mini cheesecake for dose one, ice cream for dose two.) Loose end: Since I’d already made two separate appointments, I discussed the options with Carla: unfamiliar Walgreens on a Friday, so she wouldn’t miss school, vs. her regular pediatrician but during the school week, so if she has side effects she might miss a day of class. She preferred the pediatrician option, so I canceled the Walgreens appointment and I am sure it was snapped up right away by another parent eager to vaccinate their kid. Woo! LET’S GO!

Happy Friday, Internet!

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