Better Than Nothing!

Better Than Nothing!

We’re on week two of a stomach bug at my house. Three-quarters of us have been hit, one person every three or four days. My fourth grader, who we’ll call Patient Zero, had a mild case. No big deal, I thought. Four days later, I nearly died, followed in three days by the first grader getting slammed. Only Mark has escaped the bug. I lie awake every night waiting for him to fall victim, even though he claims a super immunity. I won’t relax until he makes it a full two weeks from Sunday without barfing. I know this is a waste of my energy, to worry about Mark catching the bug. I know I should close my eyes and get some sleep. I know. So here we are, three weeks of summer left, and the past 10 days lost to a never-ending loop of sickness, cleaning, washing, disinfecting. I started thinking about the best way to use these last few weeks, and decided now would be a good time to update you on how well we managed summer expectations this year. (I assume you’ve all spent a good deal of your summers wondering about mine. No? Okay. I’m still forging ahead with this update.) You may recall that I had expectations going into the summer, and concerns that all would devolve into chaos. You can revisit that post here if you need a refresher – I’m not wasting space by pasting it in this post, so go ahead and commit the unrealistic schedule to memory before you pop back over. Got it memorized? Now, let’s see how reality looked. Most mornings...
I Did Not Meet Lily Tomlin

I Did Not Meet Lily Tomlin

In the summer of 2005 I was pregnant, but didn’t know it yet. I was in Minneapolis-St. Paul for a family wedding, and all I could think about was taking a nap. And then another nap. I assumed I was dying, though in the back of my mind I knew I could be growing a person. The Twin Cities were in the middle of a heat wave. Mark and I left hot, humid Houston, where the air conditioner was our best friend, for are-you-kidding-me-it’s-hotter Minnesota, where the air conditioners could not handle the heat. I take heat waves with me everywhere I go, by the way. I’ve melted snow in Denver, and suffered a sunburn in Seattle. If you’re looking to escape the Texas heat, you probably should not plan a trip with me. In between showering off the sweat and napping, I was on a mission. I heard that the cast of the upcoming A Prairie Home Companion movie was staying in our hotel. I was obsessed. I’m a huge Garrison Keillor fan, not to mention that the movie cast was worth a bit of stalking. If you aren’t familiar with the movie, go take a look at the cast. I mean. It’s a good one. I’d met Tommy Lee Jones before, and he did not buy me a drink or regale me with stories of his life and career, so I didn’t really care if I saw him again. But the rest of them? I wanted a look. And yes, I wanted them to buy me a drink (maybe a ginger ale, just in case it was a baby...
I Made Something and You Can, Too (A Craft Tutorial. Really.)

I Made Something and You Can, Too (A Craft Tutorial. Really.)

How to Make a Wreath in 40 Easy Steps (Alternate title: Stupid Pinterest, Stupid Crafts, Stupid Hot Glue Guns. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.) Step 1: Start a new Pinterest account. The old one is full of inspirational quotes and complicated recipes. This new account will be useful. You will not pin anything frivolous or overly complicated. You definitely won’t pin pictures of rooms you don’t even have in your house, like a sun porch connected to a giant, outdoor kitchen. Step 2: Pin 873 pictures of rooms you don’t even have in your house, like enormous laundry/work rooms with built-in dog condos and wrapping paper stations. Step 3: Search “fall wreaths” on Pinterest. Pin roughly 137 wreaths, but do not look at any of the tutorials. Who has time for tutorials? Step 4: Head to the craft store with a general idea of what you need, but under no circumstances are you to take a specific list. Lists are for sissies. Step 5: Wander around the craft store for so long that the plain clothes security guard, meant to look like an average craft store shopper (if the average craft store shopper is a middle-aged man), begins to shadow you. Ask Mr. Security if he prefers a straw wreath form or a Styrofoam one, and launch into a seven-minute monologue about the difficulty of choosing the correct form. Step 6: Watch Mr. Security shuffle off. Victory over the tyranny of craft store security is yours! Step 7: Really, what kind of wreath form does one buy? WHAT KIND?? Step 8: Go with straw. No, wire. No, Styrofoam. Ew, the foam...
A Walk on the Weird Side

A Walk on the Weird Side

I like to think I’m friendly and neighborly and blah, blah, blah, people like me. Of course I learned a long time ago that not everyone is going to like me. I got real comfy with the idea that four out of five dentists/all the people will not agree I’m an okay person. Still, I try to not be completely intolerable. I attempt to hide some of the weird. Despite such efforts, things like this happen on the regular: I wasn’t going to chat her up, because ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride, nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh-no I got to keep on movin’* (or: I do not have time to stop. I wasted half the morning staring into space, and now I have to get this walk done so I’m not late to pick up my kids.). I’m not planning to corner you at the mailbox so I can blather about the school carnival and, like, whether we should get the kids a 20-punch game card or a 15-punch game card? Probably 20, because they’ll totally use up 20 punches in like an hour and then be begging us for more anyway, so why even waste time on the 15-punch card, right? Whether I want to talk right then or not, it stings a bit to think people are avoiding me. Lately I’ve developed a theory on why I receive some side eyes in the PTA room. See, I listen to stuff when I go on walks. Not music, usually, because I can listen to that any time. When I walk, I catch up on podcasts...
Positively Negative

Positively Negative

I’ve got a bone to pick with, well, everyone and everything. Oh, you know what you did. Do you ever feel this way? If not, move along, because we can’t be friends. You’re lovely, but honestly, you never get irrationally angry at the entire world? The rest of you people can hang around, because we’re absolutely going to be best friends. Crazy people got to stick together. I didn’t have time to do the extensive research I usually do when I’m wondering about something. You know, like Google it and spend minutes at a time skimming the search results. I’m super busy this week. No, really, I am. Not Murder, She Wrote marathon busy, but actual real life stuff busy. Therefore, instead of in-depth reporting, I read just one site: Yahoo! Answers. Completely reliable, that site. One hundred percent legit. Plus, there’s an exclamation point in the name of the site. Solid! Advice! NPR’s Ask Me Another sometimes plays a game using Yahoo! Answers responses, and NPR is the real deal. I know what they’re doing and what I’m doing is not at all the same, but I don’t care. Here’s what the wise folk of Yahoo! Answers had to say about irrational irritability, along with my responses in red (color! Ooooo!). The answers have not been edited for grammar, spelling, or punctuation, because that would take away from the complete dependability of the fine people of Yahoo! Answers. I did not include answer writers’s names, because now that? That would be mean. You don’t need to calm down, you need a vent. Like an air vent? A dryer...
Bad Decisions

Bad Decisions

Piper is 17 months old, and good decisions aren’t her forte. She knows she’s not supposed to dig in the yard, but the dirt is so dig-able. She knows she’s not supposed to rip her beds to shreds, but, yeah, we average a new bed every seven weeks. At least three times a week Piper sits in what I call the Cry For Help Corner, near the couch, and chomps as loudly as she can. This is our sign that she has snapped up a small item that does not belong to her. Before you question why there are small items for her to snap, I’m going to stop you. I have kids. The end. Piper T. (the T is for Trouble) sits there and chomps until I notice her. Every time it goes a little like this: “Piper, what do you have?” Dog lies down and looks sorry-ish. I kneel down, and dog teeth tighten around the contraband. “Open up, girlfriend.” Dog does not willingly open up. I pry open her jaws, and remove a Lego, or part of the Little People nativity, or an army man. Today, it was an outlet cover that I forgot to replace after vacuuming yesterday. So much for blaming the kids. This process, annoying though it is, never fails to make me laugh. This dog knows better. She knows she is not supposed to chew the treasure she scarfed off the floor. She knows, but she cannot stop herself. The temptation is too strong. I can’t get mad at Piper. To be angry at the dog for giving in to the siren...