Monday, January 31, 2011

Damn You, Martha Stewart!

Yesterday I did something so stupid it’s almost embarrassing to admit. However, we all know how I’m the first person to laugh at me, so here goes.

I know I can’t possibly be the only person who has gotten a charley horse, a twisted ankle, and a broken fingernail simultaneously while wrestling a fitted sheet onto a fat mattress. It’s high on my least favorite make-me-sweat activities list. These sheets should have been different. A great deal on a while back, they’re king size, 1,200 thread count and were supposed to fit extra thick mattresses. $80 versus the $700 they usually run got me giddy to say the least. I am now beginning to think the people who determine “extra thick” must come from a 3rd world country where it means TWO layers of woven palm fronds on the floor. We are American and we love all things over the top. Extra thick here means 20 inches, please adjust packaging language accordingly.

I digress. My stupid thing: I ironed my sheets.

Normally I couldn’t give a flat or fitted sheet about this – it’s so far down my list of domestic duties I’ve never done it. I’ve heard of other people doing it, like…probably my Grandma and Martha Stewart, both overly fussy women about the house. Difference is my Grandma actually did her own work while Martha makes her staff do it until the cameras roll, then pretends it’s all her.

This started out pretty innocently. I bought some lavender scented spray starch thinking if I used it on the boys’ pillow cases it might help them sleep. Any mom will try anything at some point, and while melatonin does work, I’d feel guilty doling out doses all the time. The iron was still hot, and the dryer almost done tumbling the sheets from my own bed. I figured I might as well do my own pillowcases too, since Hubs struggles sometimes with sleeping after swing shift. They finished so buttery smooth and smelling like relaxation, I had to go for the whole enchilada.

So I began the ironing process with enthusiasm, which quickly faded as I realized just how big this heavy king-size sheet was, and why I got such a good deal. Apparently the KKK is shrinking and I got what otherwise would have been purchased by the tallest, fattest, Grand-Dragon-Supreme-Top-King-Poobah for the Spring Break Klan Rally in Crossburningville, Middle-of-Nowhere. Lucky for me that racial tolerance is spreading so much it’s driving down market price on white sheets and I could save some money here. (Though, on a serious note, not fast enough for me.)

It took longer than normal for a few reasons: 
  1. We have a built in ironing board that’s about ¾ normal size.
  2. The starch was not aerosol so I had to spray manually. Don’t get excited about this one, I make up for it with hairspray. Screw the ozone layer.
  3. I was refilling the water in the iron with the previous night’s champagne flute which didn’t hold much so required more trips to the sink.
It took me over an hour to get both sheets and pillowcases done. I dragged them up the stairs and let out a big sigh at the prospect of doing battle with that freaking fitted sheet again. However, this time was different. I actually got all four corners to stay on at the same time! Ironing had flattened out all those fibers and gave the eeeextra little bit needed to fit.

Holy Sheet.

I made the rest of the bed which looked unbelievably catalogish and inviting. When I climbed in at bedtime, my body was sending my brain thank you notes. It was like h-e-a-v-e-n. My regret was not having shaved my legs so I could get the full effect. It was like laying on frosting or something, so difficult to describe. This is definitely a problem.
  1. There is no way I can go back to sleeping on sheets straight out of the dryer again.
  2. There is no way I am going through all that work again.
  3. We do not have a maid.
  4. I really do not want to admit that Martha Stewart is right about anything.
So you can appreciate my predicament. To top off the night, Clayton climbed in on Daddy’s side since he was working, wriggled his legs around and said “ooh mommy, your blankets are sooooo comfy.”
"I know, that’s what I was doing in the laundry room all day today, ironing them smooth.”
"Nice, can you pleeeeease do that to my bed too? And Esten's? Pleeeeease?”
If anyone's looking for me, I'll be in the laundry room for the rest of my life.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tight Fittin' Jeans

This morning while in my usual rush to get dressed, an unfamiliar glimpse of denim caught my eye. There in my closet was this pair of jeans I didn’t really recognize, likely because they were in the “when I lose a few pounds” section of my closet. Nothing about them was ringing a bell, like some would that were at one time favorites and brought back any sort of memory at all. I was feeling adventurous this morning, so I tried them on. And they fit.

Now, for any man that might be reading this please let me define “fit” as it pertains to women’s jeans. “Fit” at the store means either we will purchase first and then try them on at home because we are not a lunatic who would voluntarily humiliate ourselves in the unforgiving box of shame (dressing room), or that we’ve been sufficiently medicated to actually pull a big enough size off the shelf in front of other people without fear of embarrassment. “Fit” at home means only that we can 1) zip them up without pliers, and 2) we don’t call out for you to help roll us off the bed after zipping. Breathing may be optional.

So with this small victory I rolled myself off the bed and back to the mirror with reservation for the last deal breaker test, which I passed. No camel hoof. Yes, camel hoof. I once tried to explain camel toe to a female relative who somehow lived to 50 without hearing of such a thing. It quickly became her favorite new phrase which she tried to use in as many sentences as possible. Only she began saying camel “hoof” like she was an authority on the subject. She was beyond correcting. It reminds me of her and makes me smile, so has been changed in my vocab as well.

The sneaky workouts in my life must be paying off. These are the things that aren’t really exercising, but that annoyingly make me sweat nonetheless. Like today’s changing of the light bulbs. Nothing really strenuous from a typical point of view, but some nincompoop put 75 watters in the 3-bulb fixtures over each of the sinks in our bathroom. The blinding light not only puts premature wrinkles around my squinting eyes but the heat these things put off has cracked the glass shades and makes me feel like I’m under the spotlight on Broadway. H.O.T. So I decided to change them out to the 60’s that the fixture insists the max should be. Standing on my tippy toes, my calves got quite the burn going on – and soon the sweat began trickling down my forehead. I also get a little nervous unscrewing bulbs, there’s something about the weak crackling of a bulb that doesn’t want to turn loose of its socket that worries me it will break off and slice me to bits. You would think I’m disarming a bomb or something. So six 75’s out, six 60’s in and a shower later these mystery pants fit over my butt.

Miraculous. Eh, not really. I actually have been hitting the gym more, but I’m trying not to be a maniac about it. I’m telling myself if I don’t make a big deal about it that it might become easier. When I get all gung ho I just end up sore and pissed off about it and stop doing it. I’m hoping that easing into things will bring about more subtle results and with them, more random pleasant surprises like wearing pants and breathing at the same time. It really is the little things in life that we have to celebrate, right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just A Little Off (the Top)

My boys have always sported long hair.  Their soft golden curls were so sweet, and just unruly enough to give warning to strangers about their ways.  It seemed like the very few times I cut it too short for my liking, half of their personalities got swept away with the fallen locks.  I was the mommy who did a hack job with the junk drawer scissors, but luckily the wavy cow-lickyness was forgiving of my swift clips.  It had to be because by the time I get them to agree to a cut I have about 37 seconds of wiggle-free time to get it done.

Now they're a little older, and as such their hair is changing, but still growing like them, the proverbial weeds.  My dad is the one who typically prompts my trimming schedule, complaining that it's in their eyes at the breakfast table.  Last night was "barbershop night" at our house for all three of my fellas.

I have upgraded to actual hair cutting scissors, and boy are they sharp.  I can't seem to get through one round without taking a "V" shaped chunk out from between my knuckles.  I guess better to cut myself than them, right?  They're both super freaked out about clippers, so I save those for Jason's cuts.  The boys get a lightning-quick scissor trim, but they're starting to turn into mini mullet monsters.  It's my fault, I know that I have to get it out of their eyes and keep going until it's off their ears, but I just can't seem to bring myself to whack too much off the back.  It's not a straight-forward business-up-front-party-in-the-rear setup, because there's not much seriousness in the front at all really.  It's hard to take seriously a bang line that looks like Jabberjaw's dental work.  Still, when I'm done, the curls sticking out from behind their little ears is quite a throwback, Esten's more than Clayton's, pushing memories of a "permullet" even.  Billy Ray Cyrus would be proud one of these days if I let it go much further.

Billy Ray in his Achy Breaky days that is.  I saw him once in the food court at the mall in Panama City, Florida in one of those "don't look now but..." moments.  And so I didn't look even though he was right behind me, but waited patiently until I was done eating and got up to leave.  I tried to eavesdrop, but outside the southern drawl I couldn't make out a word.  As I passed his table I looked back over my shoulder and burst out laughing, and he was not impressed.  It turned out to be an exact Chinese version of Billy Ray, and he was rockin' his chullet (Chinese mullet)with some acid washed jeans.  Probably one of THEE funniest things ever, though I still feel bad for the guy.  I hope he eventually traded that trend for something a little more "Seattle-ish", whatever that means, but I think it would have suited him better.

I'm allowed to laugh about this of course, because I rocked the mullet (permullet) myself and generally think the past is best left there, in the past.  But it's important to learn from our mistakes, and the mistakes of others or we're doomed to repeat it, right?  I just can't understand how a haircut that clearly looked so ridiculous on so many for so long looks unbelievably adorable on my two little monkeys.  Maybe it's because they're carrying half of their daddy's genes, and he was super cute in HIS mullet back in the day?  Doubt I'll be bleaching or shaving patterns into their little sides any time soon though.  That said, I'm glad their daddy finally gave the mullet up since I'm more of a sucker for a clean cut guy.  I'm sure he's glad I gave mine up, too...there's still a picture or two from back in the day that are best lost forever, just like my Achy Breaky Heart tape.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pink Poinsettias

Jason asked me last week how long my poinsettia was going to last. What he really meant was he wanted it out of the house now that Christmas was over. He made the mistake of telling me he had already taken the cedar wreaths off the front doors that the Cub Scouts make for us every year, and that I bust my sister-in-law's chops over perfecting the bows for. All it took was throwing him "the look" and calmly saying, "I don't know what you did with them, but get them and put them back where they were. I don't care if Christmas is over, it's still winter and they're still relevant."

I turned my attention to the poinsettia finally. I happen to like pink ones the best, maybe because they're less December 25th expirational. Who knows? They're just my favorite, and this year I found a big one, three plants in one pot, and it likes the home I picked for it inside our front door. It had shed some of its leaves onto the table it's sitting on, and a few of its petals were whithered. I was prepared for the defeat that I typically experience with my black-thumb gardening skills. I'm quite the plant killer. I guessed its time had finally come. But I took a closer look as I gently plucked away the deadness here and there, and realized it was still quite alive. It just had this thin cloak of death that needed removed to let the life inside shine through.

Just like our lives.

It's so much like the burdens we find ourselves under. Not the ones that are predictable and cliche, not the mortgage and the car payments and performance pressures in life. The real burdens are the things that we forget about, those emotional hanger-onners that have been around so long, we can't see that they're weighing us down. They're really the least important of the things for us to hold tight to any longer because they're hiding the life and beauty that we have inside and dim the light in our eyes. It's not until we pluck them off ourselves and get rid of them for good that they stop dragging us down.

The one-way friendships, the problematic family members, the baseless worry, the past in general. We all try to be glad for what we have instead of upset over what we don't, but it's not easy...just ask my boys.

And so this flower whose time is limited I will keep free of shriveling petals and leaves as long as I can, and I'll try to do the same for myself. No sense in letting any of it dull me. That, and exfoliation should yield some pretty good results. If all else fails, I'll look to my friends, the true friends that see beneath to my true self, and ask them to help spruce me up a bit.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Edgemikated Idiot

We tend to give our full attention to the opinions of experts.  They know the most about a given subject so also must be the best qualified as to form a conclusive decision about what's best.  This is an example of one such expert and my best effort at refraining from making him look like a jack-hole in front of a crowd.  Instead, I'll tell you here.

I once attended an all-day seminar presented by a Psychologist on the topic of Reactive Adjustment Disorders, especially as it pertained to children who were in foster or adoptive homes. The majority of the audience were foster parents, social workers, and associated agencies and service providers for children in foster care or foster-adopt homes. He had some valid points during most of the day, although it was mostly regurgitation of known psychological theories. I do have to mention that he had this ridiculous idea that it had very little to do with the fathers, that many men have abandoned their children and the kids turned out fine, as long as the mom was nurturing. So he kept referring to it as a "mommy thing" and repeatedly said it is critical for these newly placed children to be tied to your "apron straps" for an extended period of time in order to ensure a successful attachment. First of all dipthong, it's apron STRINGS. If he would just think tampons (strings - it’s a mommy thing) instead of boots (straps - which the father should have pulled himself up by) it might be easier to remember. I gave him a freebie thinking he was nervous and misspoke. Nope. He referenced it in three different PowerPoint slides.  Apron straps. Hey Jackwagon, if you're going to love a catchphrase that much, get it right.  That's not even what made me decide he was an idiot.

When we got to the question and answer part of the seminar, I asked what his thoughts were about giving some of these kids access to one another in an effort to alleviate the anxiety of being the "only one" of their peers who were either in foster care or who were in the process of or had been adopted, to further facilitate attachment to their "new" or even "temporary" families. I posed my question first recognizing that our society had gone from being one that didn't talk about anything to one that would litigate over a violation of one's privacy, and added that I was not including those children who were already in a group home atmosphere and who obviously knew everyone else there was in the same boat.

His answer? "Absolutely not". It would interfere with their treatment. All these foster or adopted kids are already too much of a mess to be introducing them to each other. It would be like letting people in Alcoholics Anonymous get together for a kegger. A support group just for the parents would be a much better option in his opinion. That way they could get the tools necessary to go back and handle things within the family unit.

I am still, to this day, regretting not kicking him in the balls at that point. I don't care if he is a doctor. He doesn't know shineola. And he has adopted and fostered kids of his own. He said that they had open adoptions and still let the kids have contact with their biological parents and yada yada, but that he would not consider letting them reach out to other kids in their situation because it would be too damaging.

Too damaging.

I probably wouldn’t even have an opinion about this if I was “normal”. But I was adopted. I was around 3 years old, and I have always known and had contact with my biological family. My adoptive parents and extended family always treated me like I was their own. I was afforded many opportunities I would not have had if I had stayed with the family I was born into. However, I was in HIGH SCHOOL before I ever met one other person that admitted they were adopted. And honestly, I don't think that one counts because it was a boyfriend, and I don't think his friends knew.  He only told me because he knew I was first. To this day, I am flabbergasted by the statistical evidence that there are approximately, well just a buttload of people in this country that are adopted, but I'll be damned if I can figure out where they all went. As an adult, I know OF other adults and children who are adopted, but only one of those adults told me herself. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect people to wear t-shirts proclaiming their status. I know I don't start off conversations with strangers with "Hi, I'm adopted". I guess I've just been forced into it more than others because people aren't shy about pointing out the obvious age difference between me and my parents. I just know I cannot be the only person who's gone through life in that fishbowl, feeling like a freak.  Sadly, I know just how that doctor's adopted kids are going to feel all through school, thinking they're not normal because he didn't want to "damage" them by exposing them to other kids like them (who also would not be normal).

Now, I know this will come off as offensive to someone, but it's the closest example I can think of. I do not and would never consider being adopted a disease. But I think of all the children who are stuck in hospitals battling whatever specific unfair sickness has attacked them. At first they feel all alone. But slowly, as their parents research their illness, they find other families and other children who are affected by the same thing and they connect. They support one another. They cry together and laugh together. They learn from one another what to expect, and their stress is eased as they hear of others surviving the process. They share victories and defeats together. Sometimes, they share death and they grieve together. Here's the kicker; the child is actually included in the whole thing.

Can you imagine a doctor diagnosing a 5 year old with leukemia, then deciding that child should not be given access to other children with leukemia because they're already (emotionally) too much of a mess and it might interfere with their treatment? Let them believe they're the only ones around, alienate them further from their peers, and let them rely on the solidarity and support within the family unit. What a miserable thought.  I'm going to go hug my kids and hope that when Dr. Todall Moran's kids grow up and he's had a chance to hear from them how they feel different from their friends that he'll change his mind about his theory.  Hopefully by then he'll change his presentation slides too.  Apron straps.  Yay for college.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Coupon FAIL

So TLC recently one-upped themselves (the network, not the lady singing group who no longer has the "L") by seeping into my brain with yet another show about wonder women sporting a specialized talent: couponing.  This is now one more thing I didn't realize I was not so skilled in until someone pointed it out to me.

If you missed it I would tell you to set your DVR to catch it next time it's on but I hope to save a friend or two (probably all that's reading this anyway) from the torture they'll inflict on themselves afterward.  Basically it's this: these women are freaks who roll through the checkout with up to nine carts overflowing and walk out paying almost nothing.  Inspirational?  At first, sure.  Maybe I can't store the kind of stash they have, which was estimated to support one woman's family for two years.  The other lady had enough toilet paper for her and her husband for 47 years.  Forty seven years.  FORTY SEVEN YEARS.  I want to know how the divorce decree reads for distribution of assets, each gets a 23.5 year supply?  Who gets first pick at the double-rolls?  There just is no way this marriage is going to work out.  She'll be on Hoarders in three seasons and Sister Wives in four.  He'll only want her for the extra laundry soap.  Stay tuned.

I figured I could baby-step my way into this little hobby with minimal problems.  I started out laying the groundwork, binder and all.  I am pretty good at setting up an organizational system.  Then things went a little downhill.  Okay a lot downhill, like Clark Griswold on his sledding adventure.  It started with needing extra Ben Gay for the arthritic cramps in my hands from the repetitive clipping of the scissors, except I don't have a coupon for Ben Gay.  Then...

I popped into a discount store on my lunch hour to see if they had any of the items matching my coupons.  I was so proud of myself that I literally only bought things I had coupons for, and that with it being a discount store, the $80.00 worth of groceries would only cost me around $20.00.  Everything on the belt, matching coupons at the ready, the clerk sternly looked at me and advised very unapologetically:
"I hope you're not trying to use those coupons here, we don't take them."
Really?  REALLY?  You know, that's one of the things that I would think they would display loud and proud somewhere around the doors, windows, registers, somewhere"We don't accept manufacturer's coupons."  I put it in the same category as "We don't take checks".  You have to tell people things like that up front.  I mean I know Costco doesn't take them, but who in their right mind is going to use a 50 cents off a toothbrush coupon for the package of 82 they have to buy there for $612.00?  Kidding, I love Costco.  Apparently so much so that they constantly harass me to upgrade my account because I have, according to their records, spent SO much money there that I'm really missing out on some cash back deal.

Okay, so fortunately I did have the money to hand over, $42.78, which I, in a past life of blissful ignorance, would have regaled in over saving half.  Somehow in this moment I was too deflated to celebrate.  There are people in the world who would walk away from the mess, say "I don't want it then" and leave.  Not me, I just tucked the coupons away, forked over the money, and schlepped my bags to the car with a black cloud over my head.  I spent wasted a lot of time staring at their shelves to match with my recollection and binder full of products I was looking for.  I could have had lunch with a friend instead.  This is stupid.

But it's not really.  Lesson learned.  I'm not going to be "good" at this for a while if ever, as is evident by my amateur misstep.  I'll try again once my confidence is back, and after my kids eat all that friggin' yogurt I just bought.