Monthly Archives: December 2011

Ending 2011 the right way


So yesterday I meant to go to the gym, I did, but we got caught up in the momentum of deep cleaning the jungles our children call bedrooms.  And then it was late and I was tired.

Today I continued a little in the cleaning vein, and then I went to the gym.  I vowed to go, and I went.  So yay me!

When I got there, I found Helga sharpening his horns over in a corner.  He lays in wait for unsuspecting victims clients on his days off.  Such dedication.

Pretty soon he moseyed over my way on his scaly little legs.  They carpet these places to cut down the noise of claws clicking on the floor.  I was on the DeathMaster, slogging my way through the customary twenty minutes of level 2.

“Vhat do you haff it set to?” he grunted.  I told him.  He looked deeply unimpressed.  I informed him that I was feeling sluggish.

“Vell, if zat is ze best you can do,” he frowned at me, and returned to his horn-sharpening disappointedly.

Naturally, my pride dictated that I had to turn it up to level 3 and punch in another ten minutes.


When you sweat profusely, a demon gets one step closer to returning to whatever circle of Hell it came from trainer gets a warm fuzzy feeling.  Like an angel getting its wings.

Take that, Helga!


It’s a zoo out there


So today the children attended Zoo Camp, wherein we allow them to spend the day at the zoo being herded around by patient young college students.  They have all attended summer sessions since they each attained the ripe old age of four, so this is old hat for them.  There are no tears at the dropping-off.  In fact they barely acknowledge that we will be parting company.  Such sentimental things they are.

It being December in the Pacific Northwest, and also zoo camp day, the weather monsooned all day.  I picked up three damp, tired children in the looming dark of 4pm.  Since there were three of them, each having to be picked up from a different earnest (yet oddly haughty) young camp worker, I spent about fifteen minutes in the downpour.

Oh, I had an umbrella.  It’s a cute little ultra-compact rainbow-striped number meant to fit neatly into your handbag.  (As if I would sully my Coach with a wet umbrella, but there it is.)  Despite this, everything from the lower back on down was liberally moistened by the time I got back to the van.

And?  There was a gust of wind, and my totes adorbs brelly turned inside out and connected with the side of my head with a resounding THWACK.

Yes.  I was victim to a freak umbrella accident.





So a while back The Lovely Rhonda sat before her computer and giggled madly while typing something.  She then told me she knew what I was getting for Christmas.

Well, I’m no rocket surgeon but I narrowed down the list of people she could be chatting with on her computer and determined that there was a high likelihood that it was our friend Josh, and if he was involved in whatever my gift was going to be, it was probably computer related.  So I texted him.  It turns out that he’s a pretty bad liar even via text.

Obviously I had to have him make one for her too.  Our laptops are too elderly to play the newer generations of games, and because we are total dorks, this is important to us.

So for a whole MONTH, which is like fifty years in Keeping a Surprise Secret from The Lovely Rhonda time, I had to sit on this.  Josh, because he is a guy, had virtually no discernible difficulty with it, and kept me posted as to whether Rhonda seemed to be figuring anything out.

Finally, last Friday Delia and I drove out to see my cousin as a pretense to venture far afield and drop by Josh’s to pick up the goods.  Delia is seven years old but there was no way to smuggle the gift home without her seeing it so I had to let her in on it and swear her to secrecy.  Amazingly enough, she kept her little yap shut!  We even concealed it in her closet.

Yesterday we drove out to my Mom’s and picked Josh up on our way home.  He had some large boxes with him that were allegedly “for the children.”  Wink wink!

We put everything together for the girls’ Christmas last night and retired for the night.  It was getting REALLY HARD to keep it all a secret.

I didn’t set an alarm or anything, but at 1:40am my phone, having finished charging, lit itself up, and this was enough to wake me.  (Yes, I am usually this light of a sleeper.  Yes, it’s a complete drag most of the time.)

I put on my sneaky slippers and sneaked around the house, unplugging Josh’s old machine that Rhonda had been using and replacing it surreptitiously with the new machine.  Then, to conceal its extremely pink-ness, I draped my black jacket over it.  In the murky shadows it did well enough to camouflage the beacon of girlishness that is the new tower.  Did I mention that it’s pink?  So very pink.

I was made to open the computer last, and squee’ed as convincingly as possible, and then handed her her new monitor which I had wrapped and put under the tree with the instruction to open last.  So she thought she was just getting a new monitor.  A new, 21.5 inch LCD monitor.

But no.

I asked her to climb under the table and unplug her old one while I got the new one out of the box.

Now, she’s happily killing Imperial sympathizers at highest resolution with virtually no lag.

God bless us, every one!

She needs the pink one.


So the other evening The Lovely Rhonda’s girls and I had a little time to kill.  The babysitter who was supposed to be in place by noon was late.

Yesterday she called off entirely, and now the girls’ dad is looking for another sitter.  I don’t think this woman understands that if she calls off at 530pm, the dad can’t go to work the next day unless he can pull another sitter out of thin air.   She allegedly had “an appointment” the next morning.  Which she apparently didn’t know about until 530pm the night before?  I don’t know.  Seems weird.

At any rate, we spent this time doing a wee bit of gift shopping for TLR, upon which I will not elaborate at this time, but we also selected some things for some  little girl friends of ours.  They are four and six, just like Rhonda’s girls.  They picked out some dollies.

“But we have to get something for Kirsten,” says the six year old very firmly.  Kirsten is the other little girls’ mom.  “Oh?”  I say.  “What shall we get?  What do you think she’d like to have?”

“Lip gloss,” says the six year old without missing a beat.

“Yeah, wip gwoss,” agrees the four year old rather knowingly.

So we hit the cosmetic aisle and locate some Bonne Bell lip gloss.  “Which color should we get?”  I ask.

“Pink,” says the six year old.  She is nothing if not decisive.

“Okay… light pink, or dark pink?”

“Light pink,” she says.  “Yeah.  She needs light pink.  Because?  I’ve been looking at her lips, and trying to figure out what color would be best, and I think that what she needs is light pink.”

“Yeah, wight pink,” says the four year old.  Like, of course!  Duh!

Wight pink indeed.  Merry Christmas, Kirsten!

The Nerdery — UPDATED


(If you are any of my nephews, please do not read this post until after Dec. 24th)

So last night I was FB chatting with my sister-in-law, the long-suffering mother of five children, about Christmas gift ideas for the kids.

The fact that they are all boys, and that three of them are directly related to my brother, just compounds the misery.  But that’s another story.

It turns out the nephews would like an expansion set for a game that they play, and this game is not found in your typical MegaSuperUltraStuffToBuyMart.  So, we got onto the internets (a system of tubes, as I understand it) and located a game store across the river in Gotham City.  It’s open from noon to midnight, to better attract the basement dwellers that are its prime customers.  I called them to see whether they had this game in stock.

“We do, I will hold you a copy!” said the extremely helpful earnest young dork/nerd/geek.  And off into the weirdly foggy night I drove.  Fifteen minutes later I entered the inner sanctum.  I am fairly sure that unless their letter carrier or games delivery person is female, I am most likely the only person of the girl persuasion to have voluntarily entered this establishment since the owners’ Moms were helping them set up the store before it opened.

There was a gaming group just breaking up for the evening  (it was 11pm, after all, and Mom has gotten pretty serious about that curfew lately WHAT IS WITH HER OMG).  Perhaps a dozen dorks/nerds/geeks between the ages of 15 and 30 were gabbling on about the game equivalent of 1’s and 0’s as they donned their Members Only jackets and gathered up their game supplies into their backpacks.

So let’s just talk about stereotypes.  Earnest, overly-helpful, chubby gamer dork at the register.  Gaggle of never-even-kissed-a-girl basement-dwellers talking excitedly about nerdy gaming details.  And… that smell.

If I had to describe the smell I’d say it was a combination of musty, under-heated, slightly damp storefront, Axe, and locker room.

I was tempted by the array of games on display but was compelled to flee before the retching set in.

Isn’t it fun to visit other cultures?  I wish I’d gotten some photos.

UPDATE:  I found the receipt in the car the other day. I titled this post “The Nerdery” which is a name I stole from a friend (thanks Ange!) because it totally fit the idea of a game store full of dorks, nerds and geeks.

I had no idea that the establishment, Red Castle Games, is actually known as RED CASTLE GAMES — THE NERDERY.  So saith the receipt, which I didn’t even look at when it was handed to me.



So, we’ve been attending a different church lately.  It’s the same type of church, just smaller and closer to our home.  I have mixed feelings about possibly leaving the church I’ve attended since Delia was a month old.  But that’s far too serious a topic for this blog!

At any rate, the long-awaited Christmas Pageant is tomorrow.  My kid is rather noncommittal about participating in it.  Last year we attended the old church’s pageant and Delia was a sheep, a role she feels is perfect in that it a) involves wearing a totes adorbs sheep costume, and b) has no pesky dialogue to get in the way of her art.  So, this year she opted out in fear that she may have to be something other than livestock, or perhaps speak publicly.

The other children, however, have embraced this pageant with their entire beings, if you pro-rate that to a 4- and6-year-old level.  They even demonstrated the level of their commitment by sitting through a rather lengthy, and, by the exacting standards of the under-7 set, boring rehearsal.  Until the 4-year-old broke ranks and raced around with the other 4-year-old, but that is to be expected.

The Lovely Rhonda is working this weekend, which means that I alone will be shepherding (ha!) the youngsters to and fro.  And photographing them in action.  O the joys!  I fully expect one or both of them to vomit/sneeze/urinate copiously on their costume(s) and perhaps on the Baby Jesus himself.  Really, we can expect nothing less.

In other news, I made my triumphant return to the gym today after a week of feeling crummy with a crappy head cold.  I expected the DeathMaster to kick my ass since I’ve been indolent and congested, but it went quite well.  This may be in part because I loaded Nirvana “Nevermind” onto my phone.  I like to listen to such things and watch people try to figure out the various weight machines while I mindlessly wander up the mechanical stairs for twenty minutes.  It’s oddly soothing.

I also braved a shopping mall this evening for reasons that cannot be disclosed at this time.  It was packed with a generous cross-section of society, with a particularly heavy concentration of stroller-bound toddlers who had reached the end of their abilities to cope with the mall.  They expressed their displeasure by screaming and kicking, something we all wish we could do at such times.  This is quite familiar to me and rather than become irritated by it, I found that I was so grateful not to be pushing a toddler around in a stroller myself that I was quite indulgently tolerant of the whole thing.

Also I saw several examples of people carrying tiny dogs around.  Generally these were women, surprisingly youngish and often heavily made up.  And, in case you thought “bros” only existed in Jersey, I saw several of these as well.  They are remarkable for their startling plumage and intricate mating rituals, which seem to involve shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch and bathing in cologne.  Also, they seem to appear only in pairs.  It was all I could do not to whip out my cellphone and snap some pictures, but my arms were pinned firmly to my sides by the crowds.  Besides, they can become violent and stampede if offended and who wants to die a senseless bro-related death in a mall?

Stupid head cold


So Friday-ish I started feeling sort of crappy, and by Sunday evening I was falling asleep in the car on the way home from the festive holiday buffet at Mother’s.  I am not the falling asleep in the car type, with a few rare exceptions, and if I take naps then it means I’m feeling really crummy.

Ended up staying home yesterday and today, and today felt even worse than yesterday.  Ugh.

However, tomorrow I have things to do at work, and with looking at taking some time off in the next couple of weeks (in three day chunks) I had best drug myself up with cold remedy and bite the bullet.

Holding down the couch for two days means less Helga time, but I’ll be back in it hopefully by Friday.

In other news, we’re going to attempt to put gifts under the tree tonight.  The fear is that Max will chew on them, but we have bitter apple to spray on them.  Perhaps if we put gifts under the tree the large main dog, Otto, will stop dragging the tree skirt out from under the tree so he can mush it around and sleep on it.

Also, at the festive holiday buffet at Mother’s — Mom has this nativity set she got in Mexico when I was in middle school.  It features the usual Wise Men, Mary, Joseph, the manger, Baby Jesus — and, inexplicably, a hedgehog.  And it turns out that the hedgehog is roughly the same size and shape as the Baby Jesus.  And so it has become traditional for my brother and myself to swap the two and see how long it takes her to notice.

Today I received a text from Mother:  “Whichever one of you merry pranksters bet it would take me until Tuesday to discover the hedgehog in the manger wins.”

Another poignant holiday tradition observed.  *tear*

Helga hates America


So on Monday Helga introduced me to a sort of “modified burpee.”

If either of you is unfamiliar with the burpee, it is a hellish torment dreamed up by sadists to humiliate normal people.  Essentially one is obligated to squat (the obsession with squatting continues!), put one’s hands on the floor, throw one’s legs behind oneself to assume the push-up position, do an actual push-up, and then “explode into the air in a jump” (Helga’s own words!) at the gripping conclusion.

Yeah.  I’m 44 years old and have led a largely sedentary life (with occasional bursts of activity, unfortunately none recent).  There will be no exploding unless it is my aorta, or possibly one or both of my lungs.

So instead of an actual burpee, which not even Rambo could do without considerable amounts of methamphetamine, I was made to squat, place my hands on the floor, throw my legs out behind me, bring them back to the squat, and stand up.   Over and over again.  It was like being in hell except worse and with piped-in music.

Round Two of the burpee torture brought a modification, because as I said 44, sedentary, exploding lungs etc.  This time I was to squat, etc, put my legs out behind me one at a time, do a mini-push-up, and return to the squat and stand up.   I’m fairly sure that Helga just makes me do these things so he has things to talk about at the dinner table with Mrs. Helga.

“How was your day, dear?” as she dishes him up a bowl of muesli, and perhaps brimstone.
“Oh, not bad.  I made that sarcastic red-haired lady do the funniest things.  You wouldn’t believe it but she does any crazy thing I tell her to do!  Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Today, on the other hand, there were no burpees, modified or otherwise.  Instead I was made to do chest presses and hamstring curls and pullups, and each time the weight was increased on the last set.  I did ask Helga why he hates America, but he only laughed and scratched around one of his horns.  I’m guessing the gym air is a bit dry for his scaly demonic skin.

As a big finish I was made to do actual sit-ups.  (Who here has done a sit-up since sixth grade gym class?  I could practically smell the zit cream and Bonne Bell Lip-Smacker Dr. Pepper flavored lip gloss.)  Then some delightful planking.  My fifteen minute sentence on the DeathMaster seemed like a vacation.   A sweaty, miserable vacation.

You know how if you give a dog a bath they act like you’re leading them off to the gas chamber, and then when it’s over they race joyfully around the house for an hour?  It’s like that for me, if you replace “race joyfully around the house” with “trudge out to the car and get a latte at the drive-through Starbucks.”

(PS thanks Helga, I won’t miss that 7 pounds.  Here’s to the next 7!)

How things are, around here


So we have these animals, and they are numerous.

First, an amusing photo of Otto’s new bed.  Otto is a generous, unassuming soul, which means he occasionally entertains visitors.  Oddly enough, his visitor is always Grandpa, a cat so curmudgeonly that although he is only about two years old, we call him Grandpa.  We don’t call him by his given name, which is Tank.  Because he’s the cat equivalent of an old man waving his fist at the neighborhood yelling YOU KIDS GET OFF MY PROPERTY!

Oscar and Felix, eat your hearts out.

Now, Hermione has been trying to adopt the boys (Grandpa and Mr. Stupidhead) since she moved in, but they will have none of it.  Margaret, however, has been observed allowing such niceties as grooming and cuddling.  The other day I came home and found them en flagrante on a pile of sheets.  I didn’t get a pic but The Lovely Rhonda did, and I’ll post it as soon as she sends it to me.  She’s sleeping and I am afraid to wake her up, like, ever.

And Max.  Max is a scrappy little thing.  He’s all of about six pounds soaking wet and tends toward the anxious side of the scale, but he’s not one of those poor little dogs that does nothing but tremble.   And he’s not afraid to go after what he wants.  Exhibit B:

Oh, Otto. Man up a little, big guy!