Thursday, November 29, 2007

What's Up, Dude?

The phone rang. My husband had just taken the kitchen trash out back to dump it into the garbage cans before hauling them to the curb for pickup the following afternoon. I was removing a steaming dish of cheese stuffed shells from the oven. Somehow I just knew that my son was going to choose this time as his first attempt to answer the phone.

A mother’s intuition is rarely wrong, so of course he picked up the phone on the first ring and pressed the pulsing green button. As I closed the stove and made a mad dash across the kitchen floor I heard the bleep of the talk button and heard him use his grown-up voice to say, “Hello?” The hello was quickly followed by a “yeah” and I made it into the dining room just in time to see him rest his elbows on the phone table and ask, in his mostly casually friendly voice, “What’s up?”

I took the phone from him to extend my own greeting. Of course the person on the other end was a telemarketing type in search of my husband (I had hoped it was a relative who could share in the mirth of the moment). She did not seem flustered or show any indication that she realized she had been talking to a two-year-old. If anything she was confused as to who I was and why I had commandeered the telephone.

The funniest thing about the whole situation is that my little boy tends to jibber-jabber on the phone instead of using real words and if he chooses to make use of his extensive vocabulary it is to tell the listener about his trucks or the latest video he has watched. He has never been the straight-to-the-point type on the telephone. What I wouldn’t give to have heard the other end of the conversation. At least he didn’t call the woman “Dude.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fast Food Dreaming

Driving in the rain is wretched. Especially at night. Not only can one’s eyes have considerable trouble locating the yellow line in all of that shiny wetness, but a lot of the other drivers on the road operate their vehicles like they’re in the movie Speed and cannot drive below sixty-five mph. Or whatever it was.

When will the guy in the passing lane learn that if he crashes his car it will take him so much longer to get to his destination if he has to take a detour to the hospital first? Lord help him if he causes any harm to come to either of my children as a result of his idiotic driving. Mommies can be pretty scary when it comes to protecting their young; they become possessed with a super-human strength that enables them to leap tall buildings in a single bound and bend steel with their bare hands.

My son has learned how to turn on the Christmas tree lights. He probably saw me do it one time. It has become the first order of his day: wake up, go downstairs, turn on the Christmas tree lights. That is why his bedroom doorway is gated at night. At least when the little man was in our bed we always knew what he was up to. We knew that he was not rummaging through the refrigerator; we also knew that he wasn’t playing John the Baptist and baptizing his reading materials in the toilet water.

I have often wondered what babies dream about. Shortly after birth an infant can be observed to be smiling while asleep. My two year old must have been dreaming about fried food yesterday because not long after having lunch with my one of my sisters at a local Red Robin where there is never a shortage of steak fries he awoke partially from his nap to say, “French fries?” in that slurry dream speech.

Kids are weird. One never knows what will spew forth from the mouth of a child. My son started calling my sister’s cat “Uncle Bella.” Not just “Bella” or “Bella kitty.” No. He refers to the feline as his uncle. Maybe it was the grease from all of those steak fries talking.

Friday, November 23, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is to Lose the Ten Pounds I Gained on Thanksgiving

I believe I am losing my endurance when it comes to marathon eating. On Thanksgiving Day I squeeze a small portion of everything onto my dinner plate. This may not sound like a whole ton of food, but one must consider the bounty of an average Thanksgiving in the home of my parents.

Our table consists of traditional items like turkey, bread, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and stuffing; in addition there is also broccoli with cheese sauce, creamed pearl onions, green beans, corn, glazed carrots and sweet potatoes. Just in case we feel the need to whet our appetites stuffed mushrooms, fig and goat cheese spread, and celery with pimento cream cheese are also available for sampling along with a port wine cheese ball.

All of this for my immediate family of six, my husband and our two babies. Whew! My grandparents join us for dessert: pumpkin and apple pies supplemented this year with cutout butter cookies and iced pumpkin cake.

So, there I am with all of my food touching: the cranberry sauce atop my turkey and the cheese sauce flowing over into my sweet potatoes. When I was younger I found myself able to eat multiple helping of everything throughout the day, but now I’m lucky if I can eat dessert and still manage to be breathing at the end of the night. We customarily end the holiday by playing a game together. This probably started as an attempt to burn some calories by means of good old-fashioned belly laughter.

My prayer this Thanksgiving is that I won’t ever find myself nine months pregnant on this holiday of over-eating because by that time in a pregnancy the mommy is reduced to portions resembling a tablespoon in size as a result of the baby taking up every centimeter of available space and pushing mommy’s stomach up into her throat. Every year in my delirium I vow that I shall not eat again until the following Thanksgiving Day. I always seem to forget that by lunch time on Friday when I attempt to recreate my dinner plate with leftovers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Do You Want Batteries With That?

My husband and I are in the process of choosing gifts to buy for our two little ones this Christmas. I have had a blast looking at toys that I remember from my childhood! It is hard for me to get interested in any of these newer toys because I just want to re-buy everything I used to own as a kid.

My son loves cars. And trucks. And buses. Oh, and did I mention cars? Anything else gets a smaller amount of playtime. I’m afraid to buy him the things I have such fond memories of because I’m liable to get mad if he doesn’t love them as much as I did! My baby loves to touch and look at anything within her reach, so maybe I’ll just get something for her that she’ll be able to play with in a couple of months, or years. At least she’s likely to be interested in it!

Toys were so much simpler when I was little. Not so many flashing lights; not so many dead batteries to replace. Toys like: the Chatter Phone, the GloWorm, and the Fun 2 Imagine Cash Register. (Fun to imagine- in other words, it doesn’t have twenty-five buttons to push that all produce ear-splitting sounds and music). I used to love the Sit ‘N Spin. The thought of sitting and spinning now makes me sick to my stomach, but when I was a kid it was the best! My three sisters and I all loved our bed tents too. Yessiree. Pound Puppy bed tents. So cool.

Perhaps it is because I had a happy childhood that I feel like my kids cannot possibly have a memorable childhood without these particular items. I am sure that as they grow up they will remember certain toys of their own with a smile and want to pass those on to their children. At least my mom kept our blue Going to Grandma’s suitcases. I think she may have had an ulterior motive with that one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Barbarians, cavemen, and toddlers. Oh, my!

This is not the first time that I have discussed my son’s eating habits. He is a picky eater; he will eat cat litter and dirt; he will put his hands in his mouth when they are covered in sidewalk chalk; and he occasionally indulges in the delicacy of a Crayola crayon. If a particular food is considered healthy, chances are he won’t even try it.

There are only three safe bets when it comes to foods that he won’t refuse: carbohydrates (cereal, pancakes, bread, crackers, pretzels, cookies, chips, french fries, etc.), cucumbers, and Tyson brand chicken nuggets. The list of foods that he will usually eat is not much longer: hot dogs, ice cream, pb&j, grilled cheese, spaghetti, pizza, and watermelon. We can sit him down to dinner when he is starving and he will sit there for hours without touching his food if he decides he doesn’t want to eat it.

What I have yet to share is the way in which he eats the food he deems worthy enough to chew and swallow. Let’s start with pancakes. My son raises this breakfast staple to his mouth with his index finger and thumb; he then proceeds to crumble teeny tiny pieces of it into his mouth. These teeny tiny pieces go places other than his mouth as well: all over the floor, his bib, under his bib, his pants, on the booster seat, etc. :::deep breath:::

When it comes to cucumbers, the boy chews through to the seeds and eats them, leaving a “u” shaped ring of cucumber behind. No seedless cucumbers in our house, thank you very much.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grilled cheese also have their own special way of being devoured. First the two pieces of bread must be pulled apart. Once that has been accomplished my little boy impales the insides of the sandwich onto his index finger and eats it. After the bread is sufficiently deformed and disfigured he consumes that as well in a manner similar to pancakes.

One would think he could handle finger foods such as Cheerios and crackers. However, due to my son’s experimental eating habits (i.e. lifting the bowl to his mouth and darting out his tongue like a toad) it is not uncommon to find a dozen Cheerios or whole crackers underneath his rear end and also under the opposite end of the table.

So not only must I wipe his hands and face, his chair and between all of his fingers, I am also obliged to clean out his hair, brush off his clothes and vacuum the whole house. :::sigh::: The only reason I even bother to vacuum at all is that I don’t want to have to go to the hospital after stepping on a petrified crumb in order to have said crumb surgically removed from the bottom of my foot.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What I Learned about Bats

I feel like I’m back in grade school writing a paper: “What I learned about Bats”. As with any crises there is always The Aftermath, where one regroups, reflects, and resolves on a plan of action to smother any reoccurrence of said crises: the three R’s of crises management, as it were.

Because I do not generally possess large amounts of free time, I spent only a few minutes the morning following our escapade with the bat (see “Things that go BUMP in the night”) to look up some basic facts about these mammals.

Here is what I learned:

· Bats are not rodents, but are more closely associated with the shrew. Shrews, unlike rodents, have five toes instead of four.
· Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight.
· Their fangs are so small and sharp that it can be difficult to locate a bite even when one is known to have occurred.
· Signs of rabies in a bat may include crawling along the ground or aggressiveness. Infected persons may not show signs of rabies for upwards of one month or, in rare cases, as long as one year.
· Bat droppings (or guano) can play host to a fungus which, when the spores are inhaled, can cause a lung infection called Histoplasmosis in humans.
· A bat needs only an area about one-half of an inch high to squeeze into your child’s bedroom.

To justify myself in not worrying about the interloper I called the pediatrician’s office. The nurse laughed so heartily at me while I imparted to him of the basic details of the previous night that he started to cough. Actually, I think he may have had a cold and that probably contributed more to the coughing than the laughter. At any rate, I felt myself absolved to continue in my worry-free state of mind in reference to the bat.

The Internet is a great fountain of knowledge when it comes to identifying animal feces. After reviewing a few pictures, I made a quick circuit of the house and even ventured into the attic to look for droppings. I believe I am becoming somewhat of an expert on recognizing all sorts of creature waste (see “In other news…”). I shall list that among my other life accomplishments.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My husband's version of "Things that go BUMP in the night"

Here is what REALLY happened
By Sean

Earlier, my wife posted in her blog what I'll call a lovely little fable regarding the infiltration and subsequent savage attack upon my home, children and person by a ferocious mutant bat. In this story, there were charming and amusing details outlining how I bumbled about mostly in terror and by virtue of an accident managed to exorcise said bat. Women have this tendency to understate details of traumatic events in order to keep a grounded sense of reality, ignoring the outlandish aspects of the truth because acknowledging that such abject horrors exist would be a threat to her sanity.

Here is what REALLY happened...

10:45 PM: I am laying in bed, about to slip into a well-deserved and justified sleep after a hard day's work. I hear a murmured voice from down the hall, my wife, trying to converse with me in her usual manner- from thirty feet away, facing the opposite direction and with at least two walls in between. I wait for her to, inevitably, repeat herself.

11:08 PM: "Honey, there's a bat in here." She annunciates and speaks at an appropriate volume. I spring out of bed and charge down the hall to where my children sleep. "Help, help, Oh Help!" My wife whimpers at me. I say, "Get the children and get out of here!" and step into the room. The beast is circling around the ceiling in a menacing way, it's vast leathery wings more akin to an Andean condor than a common brown bat. It's wingbeats sound like a thick carpet being shaken out, and it's loveless black eyes shimmer, each one the size of a marble. Green liquid, which I can only assume is venom, glistens on it's bared fangs.

11:09 PM: My wife, forsaking her children, flees the room.

11:11 PM: The vicious bat, having not killed anything yet, is growing agitated. It lunges for one of my children, its massive bat ears (each one as big as my hand) twitch with fury. I swipe at it bare-fisted, all the while shouting for my wife, my helpmeet, to come and save the children. The bat flees the bedroom, nearly impaling me with it's wing-talons and I chase it down the stairs, glimpsing as I pass my wife in the office where she has opened the window, presumably to hurl herself out in terror. "NO!" I say, "I have it right where I want it! Save the children!" She complies.

11:12 PM: Silence. Downstairs, the darkness is deep. The beast hides, awaiting me, knowing I will come, sensing the courage in my heart, as one's nemesis always has a sixth sense about these things. I descend.

11:14 PM: I discover the beast in the kitchen, as I turn on the light it dives from the ceiling, belching out a great fountain of orange fire from its nostrils. I fall to the ground, several times, barely avoiding the scorching flames, razor-sharp talons, and poisonous jaws.

11:15 PM: I have an idea, and flee for the camera.

11:17 PM: Back in the kitchen, the winged demon is wreaking havoc, thawing out our meat with it's flaming breath and making unwanted toast. I attempt to flash blind it with the camera.

11:18 PM: My wife has come downstairs, and again I catch her at the front door trying to make good her escape. Again she has left our children to the fate of the bat. I command her upstairs.

11:24 PM: For several long minutes, the bat and I are locked in combat. We grapple as Jacob and the angel did, destroying furniture, shattering picture frames and making a terrible racket.

11:29 PM: Exhausted, I summon my last ounce of strength and hurl the bat away from me. I cast down my enemy and smite his ruin upon the chaise lounge. The frenzied beast drags its heaving bulk out the front door and again takes wing. I slam the door shut in time to see the creature swoop down and snatch a Siberian Husky from a neighbor's backyard. It soars away into the night, carrying its prey with it.

11:31 PM: All is well and peaceful.

As you can see, the truth is very different from the cute little tale you were earlier told. I may bear the bodily scars of the feral attack and the emotional scars of a wife who abandons us all in our time of need, but rest assured that I will still love her, and continue to protect her from the vile minions of darkness.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things that go BUMP in the night

My baby girl was fussing around ten-thirty last evening. She never fusses at this time of the night. On this rare occasion I can say that I am absolutely thrilled that she kept me up. I can also say without pause that, for what it’s worth, I am glad my husband was home from his men’s group at church earlier than normal.

After I nursed her I was settling her back into her crib when I heard one of the cats pawing at the window blinds in the dark.

Argh,” I thought as I tucked the blanket under the baby’s legs to keep her warm, “when will those dumb cats learn to leave the blinds alone!”

The cat must have gotten bored quickly because I heard him start to play with the piece of Styrofoam on the floor that my son had pilfered from the box belonging to the new microwave. I turned to leave the room and head back to my own when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a dark shape hovering near the window and heard the unmistakable sound of wings in flight. Turns out the cats were not in the room with me after all; the sounds I had heard were courtesy of another animal.

I groaned. “You have got to be kidding me! Seriously? A BAT?!”

And then I did what any good mother would do: I ducked. No, I did not gather my children together and haul them to safety; nor did I drape myself over their bodies to protect them from this horrible apparition. I ducked. Allow me to defend myself by stating two semi-obvious facts: I did not wish to wake them only to have them become frightened, and I did not believe them to be in any immediate peril because bats don’t tend to be aggressive creatures. Oh, and this one was, to my estimation, clearly not rabid.

I continued to crouch as the bat swooped and glided around the room looking for a stable place to land, all the while making those kissy/squeaky Styrofoam noises that bats make. I began to consider how I should go about the process of bat-removal. There was the distinct possibility that if I alerted my husband to the bat’s presence he would freak. (My husband would freak, not the bat.) I had visions in my head of my husband blindly running around in circles until he dashed into a wall and knocked himself out.

Trying to sound perfectly calm so as to engender calmness in my husband, I called out, “Honey, can you come here? There’s a bat in the kids’ bedroom.” I had to call several times before he dragged himself out of bed to walk down the hall. (I later asked him why it took so long for him to come to my aid. He replied that he believed me to be joking. ‘Cause, yeah, any mother would want to wake her sleeping children up so she could have an excuse to begin the ritual all over again by shouting about some imaginary bat).

He plodded to their doorway, looked over the gate and gazed stupidly at me. “What are you talking about?” he asked, with a look of concern that undeniably indicated that he thought I had gone mad at long last.

The bat took flight again, squelching my husband’s concern for my mental faculties while at the same time making his concern for his own well being much more imminent. He feels the same way about bats as he does about bugs. Cue the freak-out music, please.

It was then I decided that I could not remain in my hunkered position forever, so amid his shouts of “get the kids out of there!” and “save yourselves!” and the standard “what should I do, what should I do?” that I arose with my arms about my face and head and clambered over the safety gate into the hallway. Probably because things with wings always surround a light in the outside darkness, my first inclination was to start turning on lights in order to draw it away from my sleeping babies.

I quickly flipped the hall switch and the office light switch, illuminating half of the upstairs; then I opened the office window and lifted the screen. The bat darted out of their room all right, but it missed the office doorway and went down the stairs instead. It alighted on some blue ribbon from which hangs a framed photograph of our first portrait as a family of three.

Now that the creature seemed less of an immediate threat my husband started to bark orders. My son had woken up what with all of the shouting and shrieking, so I was commanded to stay with the children while my husband, brave soul that he is, dealt with the bat.

I found it impossible to remain upstairs. With the level of noise emanating up through the floor I was afraid that the bat had somehow discovered that it could arm-wrestle my husband to the floor: it sounded to me as though my fearless protector was shouting and thumping the equivalent of “uncle” in some strange and foreign tongue indicating that he needed urgent help. Either that or he was performing an Indian bat-ridding dance. Either way I didn’t want to miss it.

It must have been the latter because when I arrived on the scene my husband was not pinned to the floor. He must have forgotten one of the critical steps in his dance though, as the bat was still present- circling around and around the ceiling fan in the kitchen. Actually, what my husband was doing was taking pictures! And ducking. I don’t think the bat liked the flash very much.

Once again the fearless ridder-of-things-black-and-yucky commanded me to go upstairs and tend to the children. I made a quick detour to turn on the porch light and open the front door. There continued to be much shouting, stomping, and falling over while I waited with the babies for the battle of the wills to be over downstairs. Eventually my husband threw himself to the floor one last time (he claims the animal was attacking him), and the bat became tired of all the shouting and extricated himself from the house by means of the front door I had left open.

Needless to say, a number of books were read and songs sung before everyone was sufficiently tired enough to go back to sleep. The only injury sustained during the whole ordeal was a broken toenail that my husband acquired during one of his spectacular dives to the floor. Hopefully that blue throw rug I stuffed behind the attic door will prevent any other nighttime creatures from penetrating into our living space. Hopefully.

Monday, November 12, 2007

You can have my truck, but you can't have my hugs!

To watch a child become more independent is bittersweet. This past weekend my son stayed in the church nursery all by himself for the hour our pastor delivered his sermon. Anytime we tried to do this in the past it failed miserably: he would become hysterical.

He has never been in a daycare situation before, so I am sure he felt insecure about whether his needs would be met if neither his mommy nor daddy were with him. Being touched by other children would upset him greatly; another kid could snatch his toy and he would be fine, but if he were hugged he’d freak out! If another child started to cry or became agitated it would send my son to the roof! He’s very sensitive like that.

Over the last few weeks I have watched him grow more confident and show a healthy interest in playing with other children. It was time to try the nursery again. This time he settled in quickly; he explained to his new little friend that her doll was wearing a “shirt”, and then he began to drive some trucks up and down the table. When I told him that I was going to go back upstairs with Daddy he looked at me briefly and continued with his game. I stood outside of the nursery door for a couple of minutes watching him play: he didn’t look around for me once. His number did not appear on the LCD screen during the whole sermon and I am told that he was totally fine. When we went downstairs to collect him he didn’t even throw himself at my feet and say, “oh, Mother, how good of you to come for me. I missed you so!” He just looked at me with an expression that said, “oh, there’s Mommy, I knew she was around here somewhere. I think I’ll go find another truck to play with.”

While part of me is excited to be able to listen to our pastor teach here and there as the baby allows when she doesn’t need to nurse, part of me is wondering where I left the portion of my little boy that was stuck in “I NEED MOMMY AROUND ALL THE TIME WHEN STRANGERS ARE PRESENT” mode.

It is important to me that my children grow into healthy adults with their bag full of marbles, so I guess I’ll just have to cope. My son recently entered the “I love to give Mommy kisses” stage. That helps.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The loves of my life

There is something enchanting about being a mommy. For that first tender year of life mommy is the center of the universe. I love when friends and family hold my little girl: mainly because she squeals with excitement each and every time I look in her direction or speak to her! Even when she is lounging around in her bouncy chair she follows me with her eyes, turning her head to keep me in her line of sight. As babies get older and grow into toddlers the delight over mommy dims a little, but mommy is still the one they run to when a boo-boo needs kissing. One of my cherished memories is of my son playing with a friend while his family was visiting with us in our home; as I peeked around the corner to check on them my son pointed toward me, with a huge smile on his face, and told his friend, “that’s momma!” in the most adoring manner. Moments like that make everything else about being a mommy so worth it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

And so, technology dies.

After the invention of cell phones many of us wondered how in the heck we got along without them. We could now call the friend we were meeting at the mall instead of walking around for hours trying to locate them because they thought you were going to meet at the store entrance into the mall while you were under the impression that you were gathering at the store entrance to the parking lot. Instead of dropping by unannounced to visit a pal you could now phone first to make sure that you wouldn’t be interrupting anything, or to verify that you would not be going fifteen minutes out of your way just to find their car gone and no one at home. And, of course, they offer a certain amount of security when lost or having car troubles.

Microwaves are a similarly wonderful piece of technology. They are not the best for making scintillating home-cooked sit down dinners, but boy are they great to heat up leftovers or fix a quick snack. The amount of time to boil water for one cup of tea or to pop popcorn is greatly diminished with a microwave when compared to a stovetop. This sort of operation generally dirties fewer dishes as well.

Nine-thirty last night found me in the midst of an attempt to will the microwave to heat some leftovers as I had yet to eat any form of dinner. The appliance had warmed up leftover chili for my husband hours before and also a bit of leftover noodles for my son. The baby was in her crib sound asleep with a tummy full of milk. I alone was starving! I found myself unable to channel my Jedi mind-powers properly for lack of food; the microwave gave one final sputter and touted its triumph over my hungry stomach by refusing to abide by my attempt to force it into submission by repeatedly jabbing the Quick Min button.

In my desperation I had to resort to boiling water on the stove for some good old-fashioned macaroni and cheese in a box because I had already had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that day and on top of that I had a hankerin’ for hot food. What should have taken two minutes turned into about twenty minutes of listening to my belly grumble before I was able to eat.

Ah, the things we take for granted. If, dear reader, you have yet to acquire the sniffles as the cold weather sets in thank the Lord above for a chap-less nose, and give your microwave a pat on the back so that it will not decide to give its notice and force you to stand over the stove with a tissue coiled up your nose stirring chicken soup when the time to be sick does come.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm so confused!

When I was a little girl my music collection consisted of Sunday school songs and other assorted Christian tapes for little people. I really enjoyed listening to them. My son has about half a dozen Veggie Tales’ compact discs, and an equal number of discs containing the more standard nursery rhymes.

As I listened along with him when he was a newborn it quickly came to my attention that other than the customary “Pat-a-Cake” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” I knew few of the others. How mortifying! Here I was, a grown adult, hearing many of these nursery rhyme classics for the very first time!

The really wonderful part of all of this was that my son and I were able to sit with each other and have a “first-time” experience together while choosing favorites. What makes my situation truly hilarious is that there were a few songs whose lyrics were new to me while their melodies were familiar because they were the same as some of the church songs that I grew up with. At times I feel like an individual who has grown up in a bilingual home: I begin with one set of lyrics and inevitably end with another. For example, just last night I began a rousing chorus of “The Old Gray Mare” and ended with some lovely lines from “I’m in the Lord’s Army”. Now that’s something one doesn’t hear everyday.

And then there’s my husband. He thinks he can just arbitrarily change whatever words he chooses whenever he chooses. If someone were to ask my son if he knows how to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” he may not deign to sing that, but he sure knows the words to “The Itsy Bitsy Lobster”.

My husband was recently asked how a lobster managed to squeeze into the water-spout; he replied that he did not realize the spider was inside the spout, and had always been under the impression that the spider climbed up the outside of the spout. Regardless of the fact that the spider is washed out in the song, I would still like to know how a lobster finds himself able to climb a vertical pipe in the first place.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

O Christmas Tree

With the thought that the next couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving will quickly be over, it occurred to me that we do not have a normal sized (artificial) Christmas tree for our new house. After a stroll down holiday lane in the local craft store it became pretty obvious that we would have to rob a bank in order to buy one brand spankin’ new. Evidently my husband was already on task because he came home from work on Saturday, the same day of my excursion to the craft store, with a tree. He found it at the Goodwill for a mere $25. This was a considerable deal what with the going rate of artificial trees. A comparable fir would have set us back somewhere in the ballpark of $199.

Informed that we needed to make sure all of the pieces were accounted for, we set to work assembling our new treasure. We fluffed and we set and we straightened branches. As the Douglas fir grew before our eyes I quickly became aware that this wonderful tree would not fit into the wonderful-tree-designated-area. How wide is this tree? I asked my husband. Five and a half feet, came his reply. Sure, that’ll fit into a space three feet wide.

The poor man was so excited about finally being able to celebrate Christmas with a seven foot tree instead of the three foot tree that we’ve been decorating since we got married five years ago that I really tried to maintain my Christmas cheer through the whole ordeal (I think someone needs to sing a Christmas carol). I really couldn’t say how many branches I stuck into that tree; neither can I begin to account for the number of times the fir stuck me; nor can I remember how many times I told my son that, no, he could not climb the tree. But, suddenly, there it was, towering over the whole living room like a jolly green giant. A guest entering the house through the front door would think they had stumbled into Narnia with the way the tree loomed over and in front of the entryway.

My husband insisted, and rightly so, that it would be asinine to take the tree down just to put it up again in three weeks. (The tradition in the family is to put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving). I’m not claustrophobic, but I just knew that I couldn’t live in my shrunken living space for two whole months with the limbs hugging the light from the windows. So, I came up with a plan: we needed to prune the monster and coax it peacefully into the corner designated to be its residence. I set to work removing a branch here and there from the mechanism as my husband half slid, half squashed the tree into submission in the corner.

It worked. From one angle it appears as though some thing took a rather large bite out of the boughs, but from another it simply look as if it is growing around the couch. We had to temporarily relocate some of the kid’s toys and it’s nearly impossible to close the curtains properly, but I’m sure we are the first people on the street and maybe in the whole city to put up a Christmas tree.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Santa has something for everyone on your list

My girlfriend and I took the kids to the mall yesterday to walk around and so that my son could look at the Christmas trees. This is becoming a favorite past time of his already. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the little mall elves had put up the huge mall tree already. The little man did not like this one as much as the smaller trees in the department stores because this one had a rope around it making it off-limits to small hands.

He is at the age where the days of walking past the toy store without going in are over. I enjoy watching him explore all of the different toys. This may cease to be enjoyable if he reaches the temper-throwing stage because he cannot take everything he sees home with him, but right now all he wants to do is browse and mash buttons. Kids these days must be born with a button-seeking sensor; he can locate a push button in no time flat.

We spend most of our time in the car/truck aisle. Yesterday was no exception. If this is any indication of what to expect when holiday shopping this year I am a little frightened: in between the fire engines and the racecars sat a jeep with two bobble-headed hunters sitting in it. How did I know they were hunters, you may ask? It was a pretty safe guess for the reason that both were sporting orange vests. However, the dead buck roped to the hood of the vehicle was what clinched it for me. A jab to the button started a song (for the life of me I can’t remember what it was) to which the hunters’ heads bobbled and their mouths snapped open and shut as if in song. Once the lifeless deer lifted its head and joined in the song the toy completed its journey into the part of my brain that registers the ridiculous.

What will those builders of toys think of next? If toys like this can be made my husband would quickly rise to the top of the field if he were employed as a Toy-Thinker-Upper. So, dear shopper, keep your eyes peeled for strange and unexpected playthings this holiday season as you comb a toy store near you for that one-of-a-kind Christmas present.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Apparently, dirt can get anywhere.

My vacuum cleaner has been sucking up dirt, dust, and messes for about four years now. The dirt sensor does not work so well anymore; I just thought that perhaps my floors were incapable of becoming clean enough for the sensor to turn from red to green. I learned something today: it is wise to occasionally check the underneath of the carpet head for dust/dirt buildup. I am sure at some point my mother imparted this wisdom to me, but I had forgotten it.

To some this may seem like common sense. If it is then there must be a block on vacuum cleaners in my common sense faculties. Things like: don’t provoke bears, the underwear goes underneath the pants, and wearing a cape does not make one capable of flight are common sense.

I think that I removed about a pound of compacted yuck from the cleaner head. Some of it was so stuck I had to use my fingernails to scrape it off. :::shudder::: At least I got a chuckle out of imagining my husband trying to complete this task. Whenever he inhales dry air or touches something dry or dusty his throat begins to uncontrollably produce what can only be referred to as a complex bird call/squawking sound. Repeatedly. It appears to be a type of gag because he claims it renders him unable to breathe. This can happen when he sits in front of a heating vent or touches a wool sweater, among other things. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life.

Hopefully my vacuum cleaner will be back to full operating capacity now. Who would have thought that tools specifically designed to clean would need to be cleaned themselves?