Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Pointless Lists

Wow, January went fast. It was a very busy month of basketball, house projects and reading. Actually I only participated in one of those things, and I think we all know what THAT was, but I need a list and this is my blog, so there. We did go to Abby's drama class performance--twice--and I think I should get extra props for that because: Middle school play. Actually, her class did the best (there were two), and she was awesome and amazing, but still. Props.

Um, that's not much of a summary, but that's all that's coming to me. The words are being tricky. I think they're just tired, really. I've been using them a lot at work. Hard hitting Bridal Guide exposés don't write themselves, you know.

Pointless list time!

Movies watched:
None. That I can remember. I think Abby and Eric have watched a couple teenage girl-appropriate flicks, which just shows you how devoted Eric is to the cause. (He watched "She's the Man," for crying out loud.)

Books read:
How much time do you have? I started reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and have been plowing through these things like they were nothing, even though they all hover around the 1000 page mark. Thank God they're on my Kindle or I'd have major back issues from lugging them around all the time.

Anyway, I read Outlander a couple of years ago and stopped with the first book... not because I didn't want to go on, but because I'd read online reviews and things, and got into spoilers, and thought maybe I wanted to just imagine Claire and Jamie living Happily Ever After in my mind. Because a lot of stuff happens to them (I guess it would have to, what with all those pages). But then... well, I wanted something to read that wasn't "Game of Thrones." There are seven books in the Outlander series, with an eighth coming out maybe this fall. If that's not promising, I don't know what is. (Actually, I kind of forgot how fun reading could be, which tells me maybe "Game of Thrones" really isn't my thing.)

So this month, I've read Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and have just started A Breath of Snow and Ashes. I love them all. They're like crack. Science fiction, historical fiction and romance all in one. Really well written. I'm flying through them because I have to know what happens NOW, but I will reread them all (probably as soon as I finish the seventh and am waiting around for the eighth), so I figure that's okay.

Um, if you don't like bad things happening to characters you love with your whole heart, though, this might not be a good series for you. Or if you get discouraged when your husband says stuff like, "How much longer until you're done with this?" Personally I figure as long as I've managed to do the laundry and have dinner on the table, I've done enough to justify reading for six hours a day. (That is only a slight exaggeration.)

Proud moments:
"Mom! I'm playing the whore in the school play!" --Abby

Minimalism update:
I've been struggling with this a little. We're in a pretty good place with the main areas of the house, but I really need to go through the laundry room, pantry, and girls' bathroom closet. I just don't want to, even though none of these should take more than a couple of hours. Anyone have a vote?

Most read post:
It's vanity that makes me track things like this, I suppose, but anyway, the winner is Stirring myself. I'm glad my crappy parenting skillz are appreciated.

Things I learned:
Truly, I hate basketball.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Awesome sauce, work edition

1. Dazz'Lynn Uniqk.
Stacey flipped me a "sister paper" tab (you know, those special sections you pull out of the newspaper, a la Home and Garden) on Monday, featuring 190 babies, all born last year. I was looking more for the names than I was for the babies--one of my pet peeves is misspelled names, except I can't help but seek them out so I can feel righteously angry (I don't know, I guess I need more hobbies or something)--and there it was, the Name of All Names: Dazz'Lynn Uniqk. Let's just say that while the baby was adorable, I really, really hope she has thick skin and a good sense of humor, because wow, good luck, kid.

Image source
2. Coffee.
The same day I found Dazz'Lynn, Stacey came back from lunch with a thermos of coffee, just for me. She even brought me cream. Oh, and lemon bars, which were fab, but I think the real story here is that my friend brought me coffee. In a thermos. With cream. I feel like maybe I should put that in bold. Anyway, I had been late to work because my car wouldn't start--I'd been sitting in a parking lot after failing to get a prescription filled (three days after dropping it off, whatever, I have HAD IT with Providence), reading and listening to my iPod, only to find the engine wouldn't turn over. I called Eric, who left work to rescue me. Naturally he hopped into the driver's seat and started the car without any problems on the first try. That maybe also needs to be in bold, except it was not awesome. So that coffee? Was like the best thing I'd ever been given ever.

3. French Fries.
Yesterday Stacey and I somehow got on the topic of french fries and the next thing I know, I'm walking to my favorite restaurant and picking up an order of fries to go, complete with ranch (Stacey) and ketchup (me). We were incredibly popular there for a while, because everyone could smell them and kept coming to the front office, so we shared our loot with Chris the Office Manager and Cranky Steve (who could have used a few more, I think) and Kirby the Editor. Everyone seemed rather shocked that we would go to such lengths for the things, but come on! Hand cut and perfectly seasoned! How could we not?

P.S. Now that we've had treats two afternoons in a row, I'm trying to figure out what to bring for today. I mean, it's tradition at this point...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Sort of Remodel Project, glorified

I think it's fair to say that right now, the only room in my house that doesn't stress me completely out is my bathroom. The other rooms? I just shut my eyes and pretend that all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.*

The Sort of Remodel Project has begun in earnest, and while dealing with ripped off moldings and furniture in the hallway and tarps everywhere since basically January began was hard enough, now I've got the beginnings of ripped up carpet and doors completely off their hinges to contend with, which, I know, total First World Problems, but wow, for someone who enjoys order and routine, it's really disconcerting.

Oh, the doors are off their hinges because Eric is painting door jams and (hopefully) the doors themselves. "I meant to do this ten years ago," he said sheepishly yesterday. Well, time goes fast.

Remember my clean retreat?
Not so much anymore. This is what you call a "catch all."
Doors and moldings are boring anyway.
New color for the hallway: "Sussex Green"--really love the contrast.
Carpet is also boring. Having a bedroom door? Kind of longing for
the good ol' days. New color for the main room, too:
"Bleeker Beige." We're big fans. It looks white,
but it's a nice beige/grey neutral.
So this is all to say that the State of the Union in our household is Messed Up. But I can do two more weeks of this, right? How hard can it be?

This probably was not a good week to run out of the Head Meds and have no more refills left, now that I think about it.

P.S. My bedroom door is back on again! Apparently the door painting comes after the new floor is installed. Since I'm not the one doing it, I suppose that's just fine.

*Blessed Julian of Norwich. I find the sentiment rather touching.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Daring to dream


Yesterday Chris the Office Manager called me into her office. Her voice was kind of stern, so I figured I was finally getting busted for all my stupidity, but anyway, all she wanted to know was if I have business cards. Uh, no I do not. She told me to ask the publisher about that, reasoning that I'm doing a bit of writing and maybe I need them for The Public.

Strangely, The Public has never questioned my motives when I'm interviewing. Sometimes I wonder about that, how trusting everyone is, but I'm glad they are because wow, that would be humiliating, having to explain myself. Not that I'm ashamed to be a receptionist in a newspaper office. My job is awesome. It's just that The Public expects to talk to a real reporter is all, and even though my byline claims I'm a News Staff Writer... well, that's pushing it a bit.

So anyway, the publisher and I have a five second chat in which we determine that I really do not need business cards, which was a relief because while I am a poser, I try not to look like one. But Chris seemed a little disappointed for my sake when I told her the outcome, and handed me a stack of generic office cards for my own personal use. Kirby the Editor happened to be in the front office, so I did my patented model walk (which is exactly the opposite of how a model would walk, I'm guessing, not that I've seen a lot of models) and am all, hey Kirby, don't be jealous of my new business cards! He thinks I'm serious and demands to see them, and then is all, they're blank! You have a name! And I'm all, I'm going to write it in myself. WITH A PENCIL.

Well, I thought it was funny. I got a lot of pitying looks, so I'm not really sure what that means, but anyway, my fingers are crossed that The Public needs one of my new awesome cards soon.

Please come visit me and ask. Seriously. Help a girl out.

Jeez, people, be careful what you ask for. Not two hours after writing this (four? Five? Time is boring) this older guy came into the office and talked my ear off on all manner of subject--his antique car collection, motorcycles, target practice, his gun rights being severely trampled by the current administration. Sometimes I feel my service to the world is just listening to lonely people. But why is it I always get the ones who like to ramble on about things I find insulting, degrading, or generally disagreeable? It's a talent, I guess. Anyway, so when he went to our generic business card rack by my desk and was all, is this your card?, thank God I could truthfully say, nah, don't have one, but that's the office card.

So I take it back. Forget the penciled-in name, even. Blank cards are the way to go.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Living a lie


Once upon a time, about four years ago, I went to my favorite fruit stand and saw a crate of kittens, all snuggled in a big heap. The one in the middle had whiskers that were just out of control and and its little body was a thick soft mound of fur. That's the one I took home, and I named her Eleanor because she just was. Then Eric was all, what if Eleanor is actually a boy? And I was all, well, then you can name him, terribly cocky because, as I just mentioned, this cat was an Eleanor if ever there was one.

Um, anyway, so that's the story of How Skilly Got His Name.

We get asked a lot where we got the name Skilly, so for about four years, I've been patiently explaining that when Eric was in high school, he saw the town of Skilling on a map of Ireland and thought that would make a great boy's name, so he could go around saying, yo, Skills! whenever he wanted to get the kid's attention.

This is why 1) I am in charge of the naming of children around here and 2) I'm not sorry we ended up with two girls.

Let's take a look at a map of Ireland just for kicks, shall we?

See Skilling?

Yeah, me neither.

Eric was doing a search the other night, and he was all, remember Skilling, Ireland? Turns out it's really Skellig. And we're all, what!?, except Abby, who put her head in her hands and declared that she just didn't know what to believe anymore.

So it turns out Skellig, Ireland, is an island. And from the pictures, it looks pretty boss. Also, it's Skellig Michael, so wow, we could not have gotten Skilly's name any more wrong.

Figure 1

Figure 2

So now we're all like, Skilly! Oops, I mean Skellig!, but Skilly doesn't seem to care one way or the other, probably because we've never really called him Skilling to begin with, exept possibly his first week with us, and then it was shortened to Skilly pretty quickly because it's just easier to say. I just asked him for confirmation on his thoughts, but he's too busy cleaning himself to give me an answer.

NOT an island

Well, the end, I guess. Oh, except Skilly crawled up on my chest this morning and gave me a good licking on the nose, which was gross and also very tickle-y. He likes me best, you know, unless Abby or Eric or Johanna is in the room. That's gratitude for you.

So apparently Eric did not find Skilling on a map, but rather heard someone talking about it--and, what with the Irish accent, "Skellig" sounded like "Skilling" to his young ears. And P.S. I'm relieved to hear it was an audio mistake because I've been wondering just how bad Eric's decoding skills were in high school.

Also: Skilly is still Skilly. I guess the moral of this story is that when enlightenment comes late... um, it's too late. Or something.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two Cranky Steve stories and an update

Jeez, people, this is why I should never read. We're 16 days in and this is only my fourth entry this month. It is literally taking all of my will to sit here and type. I just want to get back to my book.

But before I do--and trust me, I will--here are a couple of Cranky Steve stories for your general amusement:

Yesterday was paper day, and Steve took one look at the front page (about a new ballfield proposal, maybe I need to mention that) and starts going off about how it's just a bunch of tourists here and we should cut down all the orchards and put in ballfields and make town a copy of Vale and to hell with anything besides playing.  "The kids with ADHD don't need to do anything anyway!" he bellowed, and I'm like, whoa, Steve, I'm pretty sure the kids with ADHD don't have the attention span for that anyway, but when Steve is on a rant, you don't really say that kind of stuff out loud. Instead I mock whispered to Rosie From the Press, who had just come into the front office to punch out, "DO NOT talk to Steve about ballfields!  SORE SUBJECT. Trust me."

That made Steve come around the counter and strangle me, if by "strangle" you mean "pretend to strangle," since technically his hands did not touch my throat. Details are boring.

So then I was all, SAFETY COMMITTEE! And Chris the Office Manager (and Safety Committee member--that's why I called for the Safety Committee in the first place) starts telling Steve about the next Safety Committee meeting, and I'm all, damn! I'm fighting man, apparently, since it would appear Steve is on the Safety Committee himself, and then I tried to tell Stacey about my near strangulation when she came back from lunch, except she almost got broadsided AND run over, all in the span of three minutes, so my strangulation story lost some of its luster.

I'm pretty sure this wasn't my most professional work moment ever, but it was fun.

Today Steve tells me that today is Hump Day, and Friday is TGIF, and Thursday is "take the first letter of each of these words: Sure Happy It's Thursday." Ah, that made me laugh. Well, I'm a child.

Um, so that's what's been going on, kind of, unless you count that I've decided I hate basketball and Abby and Johanna won't stop fighting and I've been writing hard hitting exposés for the paper's upcoming bridal guide. Translate: Fluff no one else wants to bother with.  Oh, and Eric thought my last post made us sound like bad parents. Technically it just made me look like a bad parent, but anyway, I assured him that my public knows I'm joking. But just in case it didn't translate: I love my kids and I actually do things with them, you know, sometimes, and sometimes I don't even cover my ears.

It's kind of hard to explain, but let's just say that I have a hard time taking things seriously. It's a gift and a curse.

Also, I usually edit the crap out of my posts, but I just want to read and am not in the mood. Um, sorry about that.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stirring myself

As I've said many a time, the real success of Eric's and my parenting is that we've managed to raised our kids with zero expectations. As I recently told Abby, there are parents out there who actually do stuff with their kids: Plan activities, play games, give treats, and go on adventures... and then there's her father and me. Look, having kids is exhausting. I've given up sleep, and personal desires, and the last bit of milk that would have been ever so tasty in my coffee... and now you want me to pay extra attention to them?

What the hell, man?

Actually, Eric recently read this generation of kids is the most pampered since the Ming Dynasty. Well, everyone but my kids, I guess. And even they aren't doing so bad.

So all of that is to say that somehow I let Johanna rope me into taking her to the school's Friday Skate Night yesterday. I'm not sure who thought getting a huge group of kids together in the gym and putting them on wheels while pumping in loud pop music was a good idea, but the school has been doing it for years and apparently no one has ever questioned it.

Abby was never interested and she never went ever in all her years there, or maybe she was interested and I just didn't notice because we had a baby in the house and everything between 2004-2010 is kind of a blur.

But Johanna is all about movement. And the kid is fearless. Actually it would be kind of awesome if she had a little caution to temper the unabashed enthusiasm, but you can't have everything.

I took her once last year and it was horrifying. Well, she had no idea what she was doing, so I had to run around with her on my arm to help her get the feel of it before some of her more skating-pro friends turned up and took over the job themselves. Squished toes is what I'm saying, added to the usual headache that groups of children normally produce.

This was the first skate night of the season, so you know that means we're in for a long haul. Anyway, though, the kid had a ball. They've been skating on Mondays at her after-school care program, except half the time she doesn't wear socks and can't participate (her feet get hot, she hates socks, who cares if it's twenty degrees outside?), but she kept mostly on her feet and even entered a "race" with her fellow second grade girls and took third. Or fourth. She wasn't sure, but she was thrilled.

Also: I got to sing along to "Call Me Maybe," which is pretty catchy.

Anyway, I guess it wasn't so bad. I mean, it was cold in the gym, and the music was terrible, and Johanna kept crashing into my legs every time she came around to where I was sitting, but aside from THAT, seeing all the laughing, happy people? Especially my kid? That was cool.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Open spaces

Sometimes I look to declutter, and sometimes decluttering finds me.

Last week Eric took time off from work to paint the hallway and living/dining/kitchen areas. We'll call this the Sort Of Remodel Project for future reference, okay? Because we're not tearing down walls or anything, just making some (much needed) cosmetic changes. Anyway, he had to take down all the knickknacks I'd put on top of the kitchen cupboards and this... well, shelf thing he created out of dead space when we built the house specifically for displaying items.

My first thought: Gross, this stuff is dusty.

My second thought: Huh. I really like all that open space.

So. There's been a lot of washing and sorting going on. There are items I've been displaying for lack of cupboard space because they're "too pretty" to get rid of. And they were wedding gifts. Um, but the days of keeping stuff just to keep it are over, so I'm being very practical about it. And it's not even that challenging. I've decided to keep a couple of our collections--some cool lanterns, a few crystal vases that look pretty in the light--and let the rest go.

I've also decided I really like our empty walls, but I don't think Eric is going to go for that. Well, not that I want them completely blank anyway--I love the girls' baby pictures, and we have some new family shots I'd like to display. When we moved into our house ten years ago, we hung pictures "for now," thinking we'd go back and arrange things differently later, when we had time. Ha! Like that ever happens. So this time around we'll do it right.

I'm excited about that.

I'm also excited about the church rummage sale in June because wow, the piles are getting kind of alarming. Maybe it's time to start up the classified ads again?

P.S. Happy 90th birthday, Gramps!

Friday, January 4, 2013

A pointless beginning

Sorry, sorry, sorry, I meant to write yesterday because it was 1/3/13 and that's just sort of awesome, but the thing is, I'm reading a really great series and I haven't been in the mood to do anything more than sit in a corner wrapped in a quilt and devour the things one by one. Um, no, not 50 Shades of Grey. I haven't yet and I have no plans to, either, because I have a block about reading books that are "popular" just because they're "popular." You know why? Bridges of Madison County, that's why. That was a hard lesson, but a necessary one. I'm still mad I wasted the two hours it took me to read that thing. I was waiting for it to get better, but it just got worse and worse. Just thinking about it makes me want to punch the wall. And I'm not even a violent person.

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, never mind.

Johanna keeps wondering if 13 is an unlucky number, and I keep telling her no. What is kind of hilarious about that is that for a long, long time, I was terrified of the number 13. Dumb in retrospect, but I was a kid, so, you know, everything I did was dumb. Anyway, then Johanna was born on the 13th, and suddenly it became one of my favorite numbers ever. Thirteen, twenty-seven, thirty. Johanna, Abby, Eric. Numbers are pretty boring, but those I like.

Although I should probably get it out there that the girls have been out of school now for two weeks, and Eric took this week off to paint the living room/kitchen/hallway, and my mental facilities are beginning to sag. And I'm on head meds and everything, so that's really saying something.

In conclusion I'd like to point out that I have no New Year's resolutions to speak of. I've heard about people picking a word to help guide them through the year, a theme, if you will. So I thought maybe "light" or "mercy," you know, like being all loving and forgiving and happy and open. Except then I went to the grocery store yesterday and the lady in front of me was a jerk. I've already failed is what I'm saying. So forget that. P.S. MENTALLY failed, because confrontation is not my strong point. Obviously.

The end.