Tag Archives: HELP ME

Room-cleaning day: a comedy in three parts

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So The Lovely Rhonda and I give the children an allowance every couple of weeks, allegedly for chores that they do.  There are assigned chores (cleaning the catbox, taking out the recycling, etc) and there are “other duties as assigned,” such as filling the cat food dish or picking stuff up in the living room so I can vacuum.

Also a large part of allowance is cleaning your room, which we are dismal at enforcing and the spawn are equally, if not more, dismal at actually doing.

This morning TLR announced that rooms would need to be cleaned in order to receive the blessed allowances, and thus began our Morning of Travail.

As luck would have it, the eldest spawn cleaned her room yesterday at my behest, so she’s happily playing CADsoftwarewithastorylinecraftTM while the other girls toil away.

A sampling of the day’s activities thus far:

Madeline, the youngest at age 6, approaches clutching a calendar.  (We often refer to her in shorthand as M2 and Molly, age 8, as M1, denoting birth order)

M2: Mama, can we pwease put this up?

TLR: Yes, just put it on your desk for now.

M2: But my homewowk is on my desk and I can’t put this on top of my homewowk because my homewowk has to be on the top

TLR: Okay, so put this underneath your homework, on your desk.

M2: ‘K.  (races off)

Shortly thereafter Molly, the middle child, comes showing something else that must be looked upon immediately.  I can’t remember what because frankly it was so mind-bogglingly trivial that it barely registered in the first place.  TLR, a paragon of patience for reasons that I still cannot fathom, acknowledges the item and gently bids the child return to her room.

Approximately 90 seconds passes, after which Madeline returns announcing that she has cleaned her entire room.

TLR: That seemed kind of quick.  Did you clean the whole thing?

M2:  Yes.

TLR: So, everything is up off the floor?  Like, under your desk, and back by your toybox, and in front of your closet?

M2:  Well, no.  Not in fwont of my cwoset.  Because I never go there.

TLR:  You need to clean in front of the closet.

M2:  WHY?!

TLR (calmly): Because I said so.  Now go clean in front of the closet like I said.

M2 sighs heavily and trudges down the hall.

A moment later Molly appears.

M1: Mama?  I think Madeline is whining about something in her room.

TLR:  Oh?

M1: Yeah.  It sounds like she’s saying, like, “But I didn’t even do it,” or something.

TLR:  Well, why don’t you just not worry about it.

M1: But, it’s really hard to clean my room with her groans distracting me —

Me (at this point I cannot help myself): SO CLOSE YOUR DOOR.

At this point all of the rooms are reasonably clean and the youngest has bathed.  She emerges wearing a pair of jeans and complains to TLR that they are too big.  See?  And the jeans are touching my socks and I don’t like it when my jeans are touching my socks —

There is a beer-and-wine-thing tonight in downtown Bedroom Community, and TLR’s favorite vintner will be represented at a local independent theater we like to go to.  I think it’s safe to say we’ll be going.

 

Girl Scout beach sleepover fun

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So yesterday and today marked the Epic Year-End Girl Scout Fun Beach Camp Out With Bridging Ceremony for our girls’ Girl Scout troop.

Let me just begin by saying that this is an awesome troop with a fantastic leader and a great bunch of girls.  So any comedic value I may draw out in this post is not done with malice of any kind.  I love these people.

That being said, perhaps this text that I sent to The Lovely Rhonda will set the tone:  Next time I get a hotel.

The Girl Scout organization owns cabins, as I understand it, here and there in nice places.  This cabin is right in a popular coastal town with a little promenade and an aquarium and lots of shops that sell things made out of imported shells (the Pacific Northwest is not known for its excellent shells) and taffy and so forth.

The cabin is pretty much one big room with an open kitchen along one side and a bathroom that has a door, probably only because privacy laws dictate that it must.  If there is anything Girl Scouts believe in, it is relentless Togetherness.

Sturdy vinyl-coated camp mattresses are provided for sleeping and are stored, when not in use, in two large stacks to either side of the room.  These are irresistible to your average 6-9 year olds, and while I like to think that our children are above average, they too fell prey to the siren song of the mattresses.

Oh, and someone, NO NAMES MENTIONED COUGH COUGH *TROOP LEADER* COUGH COUGH, brought an apparently indestructible beach ball which spent the two days careening nonstop off of every surface including the ceiling, the walls, and several peoples’ faces.

I arrived late in the evening on Monday, relieving TLR of duty so that she could return home to the relative safety of work on Tuesday.  We had s’mores and a bridging ceremony in which the troop leader’s daughter was promoted to the rank of Ambassador and my own offspring became a Junior.  (This is the rank above Brownie, for those of you who concern yourselves with hierarchy.  I know I was burning with curiosity about it myself.)

After that TLR hotfooted it home and probably spent the evening watching The L Word in a chenille bathrobe with a glass of wine and a box of chocolates.  She probably did this because she knew that I would be sleeping on a whisper-thin mattress on the floor of a big open room filled with children.  Knowing this, she further knew it was up to her to restore balance and harmony to the universe by doing pretty much the opposite.

You know, at first it wasn’t so bad.  My kid was happy that I was sleeping next to her on the floor — I had turned down the chance to sleep on a bed type thing so that this could happen — and the mattress thing didn’t seem too terrible.  My sleeping bag was tidy and I had an owl-patterned pillowcase my mom made for me on my pillow.  We all settled down relatively quickly and pretty soon there was the gentle, deep breathing of exhausted children.

But then… Well…

My pillow was too puffy.  I had grabbed a spare one out of the bedroom and didn’t realize it was one I had rejected for being neck-wrenchingly lofty and unmanageable.  I therefore spent the rest of the night chasing it up the slippery mattress as it squeaked out from under my head like a watermelon seed.

And?  Every time someone moved, their vinyl-coated mattress made rude noises.  The troop leaders both brought inflatable mattresses but these were no better in the rude-noise department.

Did I mention I am a light sleeper?

True story:  the tiny *click* of the clock coming alive followed by the sound of a CD spinning before the music started was enough to wake me up in the morning when I used a CD alarm clock, back in the day.  Now, of course, I use my cellphone alarm and if I forget to turn the sound back up, the screen lighting up is enough to do the job.

So you can imagine my joy when finally the baby started in.  One of the troop leaders has a young son, about ten months old, and of course had to bring him along.  He is completely adorable and pretty mellow overall, unless of course he misses his naps and bedtime at a Girl Scout beach camp out.  Despite even this he was super delightful nearly all the time.

Oh, except at 3:45am when he woke up, one assumes to be fed, and made a crapload of noise in the otherwise perfectly silent big open room of the cabin.  It wasn’t even any of that annoying crying that makes you want to throw the baby out the airplane window; it was mostly just … noises.  Noises of various types related to urgency, satisfaction, curiosity, whatever the hell goes through an infant’s little developing brain at FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING.  WHEN ALL NORMAL PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP.

I like the little guy, and I like the troop leader, and it wasn’t personal.  But by FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING it was starting to get a little bit frantic over on my particular squeaky vinyl-coated rude-noise generator of a mattress.  I am not a violent person but it was starting to get all HULK! SMASH!  inside my head.  So finally I fired up my phone and played Plants vs. Zombies, and around 6:15am I finally settled down.  Just in time to wake up at 7am.  Because we had things to do.

Last weekend I worked two night shifts and then on Monday morning I woke up — also at 4am — and due to various Circumstances About Which I Do Not Blog, could not sleep any longer.  So I kind of walked into this thing with what you could call a sleep deficit.  Or you could call it OMG I AM SO TIRED ALREADY I JUST WANT TO LAY DOWN AND SLEEP ON ANY AVAILABLE SURFACE.

But no.  There is no time for that on an Epic Year-End Girl Scout Fun Beach Camp Out With Bridging Ceremony.

So now?  I’m going to bed.

Only Panicking a LITTLE

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So I’m getting married in less than a week.

Yes, friend(s), one week from today I’ll be at the beach with the wife.  The actual wife.  Of me.  My actual wife.

We’re gathering steam for the final week of preparations.  I’d go into lengthy detail if I thought either of you would care, but since I don’t think that is the case, I’ll just boil it down to a couple of things.

For starters, the house has been un-Christmased.  I’m allowing the boxes of decorations to mellow in the living room before the final push to unearth their dwellings in the garage, which is a major sh!thole.  This is not entirely my fault, although I am certainly a contributor — the drywall and other materials for the last stages of the home improvement project are all in a big heap on one side of our adorable mini-garage, making it more of a filthy jumble.  I’ve lost enthusiasm for rooting around in junk for today, and there’s always that one stinking ornament that shows up after you’ve stowed everything, so the living room is where the three big totes are living for the moment.  I’ll finish that up tomorrow, unless someone wants to come over and clean out the garage right now.

No?  Nobody wants to?  FINE.

I’ve also done some vacuuming and am about to embark on that most delightful of tasks, cleaning the litter box.  I cannot wait for the cat’s face to heal so that we can retire the litter box once again.  I keep wanting to ask him if his face hurts, BECAUSE IT’S KILLING ME, HA HA HA!  But I refrain, because he does not speak the English.

In my opinion The Lovely Rhonda should be volunteering to clean the box at least one-third of the time, since her cat Hermione is contributing at LEAST one-third of the contents of said box, but I doubt she will see this my way.  Perhaps a pre-nup is in order…

Today I attended services at the church.  I was alone because TLR is at work today and the children are at their other households.  Everyone at church looked upon me in wonder and amazement: Just  you today?  Because I normally do not exist in nature without at least one orbiting child, if not three, as well as the future Mrs. Me.  And when I nodded, Yes, just me, each person without fail said something along the lines of Well, good for you!  Enjoy the peace and quiet!

Anyway, while I was there I looked around the sanctuary and the meeting hall and thought, OMG WHO IS GOING TO DECORATE THIS PLACE FOR THE WEDDING DO WE HAVE ENOUGH NAPKINS I HAVEN’T FINISHED THE SLIDE SHOW OR MUSIC GAAAAAAAAH.

And then I drove home and clutched the cat to my breast and rocked while muttering to myself about pew bows for a good hour, before I came to my senses.

It will all come together, and it will all be okay.

In the meantime, if either of you are interested in coming over to tie a bajillion little golden jingle bells together into bunches, drop me a line.

 

Frugality has its price

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So the large main cat came in looking all pitiful with one side of his face all swollen up.  It was so swollen and he was so pitiful that I dragged myself out of my pajamas and through the shower in the early evening on Christmas Day so that I could go to the store for kitty litter.  He’d need to be kept in overnight and taken to the vet in the morning.

When I got out of the shower I could just see that something had happened in the vicinity of his face.  I will spare you the gory Technicolor description of what followed except to say that it’s a good thing that The Lovely Rhonda is a nurse, and also that I understand why veterinary technicians usually wear scrubs, i.e. are not naked and dripping wet whilst tending to an animal with a large abscess.

At this point we figured that his face would now heal on its own and let him back outdoors.

The next day TLR texted asking me to pick up litter after all since he was back and looking sad again.  He went to the vet that morning and was reasonably patient while they shaved half his face and cleaned what turned out to be a pretty ugly open wound on his cheek.  A quick shot in the behind of antibiotics and he was good to go.  “Oh,” says the vet, “and keep him inside for two weeks.”

Which is like saying, “Oh and also?  Teach him to recite pi to the forty-seventh digit.”

This morning he meowed piteously at our bedroom door until I let him in.  All went swimmingly until he climbed on top of us both and began to yowl.  Suddenly the bed exploded into activity when Rhonda sat bolt upright and hollered, “YOUR CAT IS PEEING ON US.”

And so he was.  And it was disgusting.

Which is how I ended up in the side yard hosing out the litter box at eight o’clock in the morning.  I’d fashioned a small temporary one out of a plastic storage container but I feared that perhaps it was too small for His Majesty’s liking, thus leading to the fun this morning.  The old litter box was full of rainwater and used kitty litter.  O joy.

Later I entered the kitchen in search of disinfectant and an old dish brush to finish my delightful task.  “And by the way?” I said to TLR, “The next time one of us just hauls a full litter box outside and leaves it in the rain instead of emptying it, it’s grounds for divorce.”

“But you can’t divorce yourself,” says TLR.  “Because I’m pretty sure it was you.”

“Oh, I don’t know, right now I think I could,” says I.  Twenty minutes spent prising clay spiked with cat turds out of a plastic box will do that to a person.

Also?  If you are out walking  your dogs and you see your neighbor standing in their side yard grimly hosing a litter box out at 8am on a forty degree morning, you can feel pretty secure in the idea that they are not doing this of their own free will.

The litter box is now ensconced in the laundry room and Himself is driving us all crazy meowing at all the doors and windows.  I think we will be lucky to keep him in for three days.

I may never feel clean again.  I informed Rhonda that it might be easier to just start over and clone me from some DNA off the hairbrush.

Oh and?  I could have driven to the store and bought a new litter box in the time it took me to clean this one, but somehow it felt just a little excessive.  Apparently fifteen dollars is my threshold.

 

Compare. Contrast. Weep.

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So I have this wonderful, brave friend who is living her dream.  She’s in France, speaking French all the time, eating things that sound French even if they aren’t just because she is in France, and she does these things that you can  apparently do in France much more easily than here.  Here is a FB post I just read:

“You know what? I’m not going to work today. I slept in until 9am, translated a French poem, watched the last sad bit of the reign of Henry VIII, and made a celery root/potato mash with garlic and olive oil and topped it with sauteed lemon chicken breast for lunch. It’s a nice(ish) afternoon, and I think I’m going to spend it walking around the lake before I go to the Haydn motet concert at a local church at 5pm.”

Let us contrast this with my day:

“You know what?  It’s 10am and I’m in plaid flannel pajamas listening to the dog eat kibble.  I overslept so I’m not going to church.  I’m going to make coffee, sit here surfing the web and playing World of Warcraft while doing endless loads of laundry, until I cannot stand my own filth and idleness any longer.  At that point I will shower and do things that are slightly more worthwhile and meaningful.  Chances are good I’ll eat something vile and reprehensible later while starting my online Master’s program.  None of it will involve a Haydn motet although I might listen to Christmas music on the soft rock station since nobody’s home to judge me.”

If the children were here it would involve more shouting about turning the TV down and stop hitting your sister, but they’re off at their other households.

Anyway, three of the seven deadly sins right here.  YAY ME!

(To be fair, she has no children and has worked very hard to be where she is, and I do not begrudge her one iota of her happy French life.)

Holiday update

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So, Thanksgiving was yesterday.  And it wasn’t bad, overall.  We had a friend over with her kids, and The Lovely Rhonda’s parents came, so it was a reasonably hectic affair.  I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed it as much without some chaos and mayhem.

We had a smallish turkey and smallish spiral-cut ham and the usual side dishes.  Our Thanksgiving is short on innovation but long on pie.  I am the only one who likes cranberry sauce and this is okay with me.

Today we attended a bazaar at a rec center in Portland.  Soap, particularly goat’s milk soap, is popular at these things.  As are crocheted items.  I saw a dress, about toddler-sized, that looked like it could stop a bullet.  It was dense and variegated and I wondered how many potholders died that it may live.  We bought a few things and moved on.

Tonight I attempted to assemble two small wire-mesh drawer things from Ikea.  We got these for a bit of storage by our desks which we will need once school begins.  I followed the instructions supplied within the packaging, but disaster struck as I put together drawer number three of the first thing.  I put it together with the flanges facing in instead of out, making it a perfectly nice little tray but not so much a functional drawer.  Thus it has been ordained that I should be journeying to Ikea in the morning to purchase eight more small plastic widgets with which to secure bits of the drawer to other bits of the drawer.  The widgets, or as I believe they are called in Swedish, Wÿdgëtts, cleverly mushroom into useless globs of plastic the first and only time they can be used.  To their credit, Ikea may charge me only about a dollar if anything for them.  I guess they figure the privilege of laughing at my ineptitude after I leave is payment enough.

That and some cleaning and rearranging of the children’s rooms is how the day shall be spent.  Let the good times roll, hallelujah, and be thankful for Ikea’s As-Is department.

Why I Cannot Clean The House Except Under Tremendous Pressure

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So it’s Thanksgiving next week, and as always we are booked solid until Thursday morning.  The Lovely Rhonda is working her four-day stretch, ending on Tuesday, so she’ll be relatively useless on Wednesday.  I say that completely without rancor because her workdays are twelve hours long and sandwiched between forty minutes’ drive each way.  We jokingly call it Bathrobe Wednesday but it’s no joke; as far as I’m concerned she’s earned a day completely off.  She never gets one, but she has one coming to her.   About the time she’ll be feeling halfway human we’ll be off on an errand.  (I’d talk about what the errand is but it makes us sound all goody-goody.  We’re not.  We are fortunate and grateful and humble.)

So it’s up to me to clean the house for the holiday, and I accept that with my usual grace, i.e. wretchedly and with great reluctance.  It’s not that I don’t value cleanliness and as I stated above, it’s not because I don’t think I should have to.  I just don’t wanna.

Here’s part of why I don’t wanna:  It will take me bloody ages, because I am a perfectionist.  I figure, if I’m going to clean, I’m going to do it right.  So, I can’t just clean the kitchen counter off.  I have to rearrange the entire kitchen because it’s been irksome to me how crowded the canisters are.  I can’t just vacuum around the couch, I must also take a damp rag to the arms where the dog chews his rawhides and leaves gummy crusty patches, and I must remove the cushions and clean under them and vacuum the dog hair from them and take the rag to their spots also.  I cannot just shove into a drawer the various pencils I find all over the house now that all the children can write yet cannot put a pencil away under pain of death, I must sharpen them and put them in the pencil cup.

Now, if there is someone coming over in an hour or two I can do those things, but not when I have an entire day to clean.  So far today I have done the things described above as well as repaired a book’s torn/ragged cover, washed every blanket/afghan/item of clothing that I come across that might be minutely less than clean, and dusted a shitload of owls.

Oh, and blogged about it.