Monday, April 30, 2012

760. TV Dinner

“So that’s two small sides of fruit for the kids, plus two house salads, and an order of bruschetta to start?  What do you want on your salads?” 

I knew The Husband would order either blue cheese or ranch, but then he surprised me by asking the girl what the other choices were. 
“Well, we have Italian, honey vinaigrette, TV, twitter, Facebook, and voice mail.”

The Husband looked just as surprised as I was:  who offers voice mail for dressing? 
I jumped in and answered for him.  “No dressing.  We’ll have a couple of slices of lemon on the side.” 

I could tell that the girl thought I was rude for not giving The Husband a chance to respond.  But then, the waitress wasn’t tipping me, was she? 
As I looked around the new restaurant (called “Strangely Enough”), I realized most of the diners had selected the other dressings.  Some were even having them for their main course. 

I was mentally congratulating myself that the kids were keeping busy drawing elaborate Crayola cities on their paper placemats when The Husband confided, “I might have a piece of email for dessert later.”
I glared at The Husband.  “You had some email for a snack before we even left the house.  Besides, I didn’t see it on the menu.” 

“You should talk.  How are you even hungry after you filled up on blogs all afternoon?” 
Right then, the busboy appeared to refill our water glasses.  “Do you need more email, sir?” 

“I didn’t order email, but do you offer it for dessert?” he asked, eager for the chance to clarify. 
“Let me get your server.” 

A few minutes later, the waitress came back, her tray weighted down with items.  “One order of Angry Birds, and who had Words With Friends?” 
A man at the next table flagged her down.  “Miss, that’s our order!” 

The kids looked up wistfully as the waitress walked off with things they didn’t even know were options.  “That’s what I’m having next time,” Tall whispered to Short. 
“No, you’re not,”  I interrupted.  “We’re just going to have grilled chicken with broccoli and call it a night.”  

“Everyone else has better stuff than us,” observed Short.  “Why don’t we have YouTube?” 
I just wanted a simple meal, a meal without media.  But we were surrounded.  I decided that next time, we’d eat the old-fashioned way, the same way people have for decades before us:  in the car.    


Sunday, April 29, 2012

759. Mad Cooking Skillz

Queen Virgo is used to precision.  When she tells the hairdresser she wants two inches cut off the overall length of her hair, she inevitably produces a ruler out of her own purse to show the hairdresser what two inches really means, so they are both speaking the same language:  the language of Virgo.  So it should come as no surprise that Queen Virgo uses a timer when she boils noodles. 

“What are you doing?!?” I ask The Husband, barely hiding the mild panic in my voice, “You just dumped that macaroni in the pot but forgot to set the timer!”  I reach past him to the window ledge above the kitchen sink so I can grab the timer (digital, natch) and rectify the situation. 
“The timer’s batteries died,” shrugs The Husband, “and besides, timers are for wimps.” 

Wimps who like their noodles cook al dente like God and Rome intended, not all swampy like mud in the backyard after a particularly fierce storm.
“No, no, no,” Queen Virgo cannot abide the situation, “if the timer is broken, I’ll just watch the clock for you.”  I stare at the clock: 5:37 PM.  I glance at the noodle package, and see the instructions indicate eight minutes.  Okay, so 5:37 plus eight is—

“Scoot,” he pushes me out of the kitchen.  “I’m not a child.  I think I know how to make noodles.”
But see?  That’s the problem—he doesn’t.  The Ghost of Negative Experiences Past appears, sitting calmly at the dining room table, and she is making a face, a face like “ick.” 

“Might as well order a pizza, or make yourself a sandwich, or you could have cereal for dinner again,” whispers GoNEP, while flipping through a décor magazine, “we both know how this is going to turn out.” 
Unfortunately, she’s right.  “Sweetie,” I say to The Husband encouragingly, “there must be some batteries in the basement somewhere?  Let’s put new batteries in the timer.”  

He scowls at me, and GoNEP rolls her eyes.  GoNEP taps a magazine page for me to look at.  “Check this out—apple green walls!  Remember when we tried that in Tall’s bedroom in California?  Huge mistake.  The color on the paint chip is never the same as the one in the picture.”     
I nod.  Of course I remember that apple green she’s talking about.  We ended up having to paint his room three times to get the color right.  GoNEP follows me almost everywhere; she and I are pals. 

The Husband calls the boys to dinner, and I tell GoNEP she must leave now, there’s no room for her at our small table. 
Tall lays the silverware and napkins out, and The Husband brings in the pot of macaroni and cheese.  It resembles not so much an Italian gourmet meal as a yellow pool of mush.  I can’t say anything, though, because as much as I love to be right, I hate to cook even more.  I know if I say, “The noodles are horrible,” then The Husband will respond with, “Then you can cook dinner tomorrow night.” 

I walk in the kitchen and get an apple. 

“What are you doing?” inquires The Husband, “Dinner is right here.” 

GoNEP hides next to the refrigerator and coaches me on what to say.  “I’m suddenly craving an apple, Sweetie, I actually had a big lunch.” 

It’s okay:  Queen Virgo could stand to lose a few pounds. 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

758. Mom Friends

You are a mom. You want to hang out with people who possess an attention span longer than three minutes and who don’t consider Chef Boyardee a “gourmet” food. You are yearning to discuss a movie that doesn’t star a talking dog or Elmo or have Disney in the title, and you want to do this while drinking wine from a real glass, not a blue Batman plastic tumbler. You ultimately decide to seek out other moms as your friends du jour, your refuge, for the simple reason that they are readily accessible.

Without warning, you are about to experience what every woman endures when she dips her toes in the icy waters of the wading pool of mommy friendships: The Venn Diagram of Mom Friends.

You might adore your next door neighbor, a mom of three. You might laugh at her clever stories and realize that you could spend six hours with her and it would seem like two minutes. Why, oh, why, must she have bratty kids? Kids that race in the room and kick you for no reason and then cry when you tell them no?

Or … what about the mom whom you despise, but her kids are incredibly well-mannered and completely adorable little angels? The disconnect rattles your brain. You loathe her and her condescending attitude, but you are enamored with her outgoing, super-smart children.
Then there are the moms you hate with the kids you hate. It’s easy to cross them off your list.

Every once in a while, you win the cosmic lottery of mommy relationships. You find yourself joking over coffee with a mommy who is the elusive combo: great mom with great kids. Surprisingly, your kids even love her kids. You cannot believe your luck. You tell her your innermost secrets in confidence, because you trust your perfect new mom friend, and then she has to go and say those six bitchy words that ruin it all forever: “Did I tell you we’re moving?”

757. Swear Words: A Primer

If you find yourself in a situation where you are around elementary-aged children, perhaps in a school environment, you will notice that they might seek you out as an adult authority figure to inform you of various infractions made by their peers.  Typical infractions involve (but are not limited to) hitting, pushing, cutting in line, talking too loud, not doing their work, and swearing. 

Ah, yes, swearing.  But they don’t call it swearing at age eight, they call it “saying a bad word.” 
The first time a child-turned-informant approaches you with such news, you might (understandably) be taken aback.  The conversation may or may not play out like this:    

“Mrs. MOV!  Mrs. MOV!  Jacob/ Joshua/ Jack said a bad word!  He said the F-word!” 
You might feel beads of sweat collecting on your forehead.  You might wonder to yourself exactly what kind of television shows second-graders (second-graders!) are watching nowadays to have ever been exposed to the F-word.    

You might try to act calm.  You are the adult, after all.  You might try not to panic.  You might mentally give yourself a little pep talk and tell yourself to take a deep breath.  “Okay, Emily/ Emma/ Elizabeth, can you please whisper to me the word he said?” 
You might lean down to the height of the tiny girl as she cups her itty-bitty hand over her mouth close to your ear.  Then she might clearly enunciate a word, a word you were not really expecting, a word that you never thought you would be so happy to hear:

Oh, okay, of course.    

If you are around children of this age group for more than one day, your “bad word” repertoire might expand.  You might learn an entirely new language, a language you were previously unfamiliar with.  Here are some more words you might learn:  
  • The D-word:  Dummy
  • The S-word:  Stupid
  • The C-word:  Ca-ca
  • The H-word:  Homework
You might drive home and tell your husband about the new words you have learned.  And you might share a good laugh, a laugh of temporary relief, because you both know that when these kids are teenagers, the words will stand for something else. 


Friday, April 27, 2012

756. None of Your Beeswax

Queen Virgo went to IKEA because Queen Virgo is all about saving money.  She found herself in the 17th quadrant of the third floor, just past the computer desks. 

She had not intended to go to the baby furniture area, but she had no choice:  the obstinate IKEA yellow brick road led her there on the way to check-out. 
Queen Virgo’s two babies were, thankfully, still in the car (not to worry:  she left a window cracked). 


(And they could not really be called “babies” anymore, having already graduated to kindergarten and second grade.)  

Queen Virgo had no use for cribs and high chairs and wooden blocks that looked so lovely in their displays ...     

... but would inevitably be turned into weapons.  

She wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. 

And yet …
Queen Virgo’s attention was suddenly directed to a six-months pregnant couple arguing over a changing table.  The wife was very serious, what with her tape measure and camera.  Queen Virgo’s first thought was (of course) to go over, introduce herself, and proceed to tell them why a changing table (and a wobbly one from IKEA at that!) was a bad idea. 

“Just buy a really nice antique pine dresser and put a towel on top of it,” she could hear the words in her brain.  Would the pregnant woman’s husband punch her in the face for intruding like that?

Queen Virgo resisted lunging toward the couple to educate them on all things baby.  She chomped her perfect white teeth down hard on her tongue to prevent herself from saying:

“Don’t bother registering—it’s all a scam.  Just buy a crib and a few onesies.  And the crib that converts into a toddler bed and then a full-sized bed?  Ha!  Forget that charade!  When the baby is finally out of that crib, you won’t even want to look at that contraption ever again, let alone have it reside in your house in any form for the next 17 years.  The diapers hanging thing?  Uh-uh.  No.  Just buy a cute basket and call it a day.  The glider rocker?  No.  Ugliest piece of furniture ever conceived—pardon the pun.  Do not let the salesgirl tell you that you can put it in your living room later and use it as a reading chair—it will be covered in vomit and still look to the world like a nursery glider.  It will never look chic, no matter what you try.  Do yourself a favor:  buy a big squishy chair with a slipcover and have a new slipcover made when your kid goes to elementary school.” 
Queen Virgo could feel all the advice churning around in her brain, like mashed up baby food. 

“And that’s another thing!” Queen Virgo wanted to warn them, “Don’t buy the baby food chopper-steamer thing.  It’s a rip off.  Just take a fork and mash the same food you plan to eat and give it to baby.” 

Queen Virgo desperately wanted to go talk to that couple, to tell them they should go out to dinner now while they still had the chance, and to quit wasting their precious pre-baby time obsessing about changing tables. 

Just when she had figured out a way to go talk to them (“I have never seen such a skinny pregnant woman!  Are you a model?”) she overheard the husband say, “Let’s go look at closet shelves.  You know how I love to organize.” 
Queen Virgo smiled, turned, and walked the opposite direction.  She knew the young couple would be just fine without her.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

755. Are You Breaking Up With Me?

It all started with a dare.  “I dare you to do the A to Z Challenge and write every single day for every single letter!  I’ll bet you can’t do it!”  Queen Virgo smirked at her reflection in the computer monitor (still turned off) and replied, “Watch me.” 

With a flick of the switch, she turned on the computer and navigated to the site.  A few keystrokes, a few mouse clicks, and few tequila shots later, she had committed.  There was no going back. 

Queen Virgo decided to write a few* posts ahead of time in case things got hectic and she felt herself in a time crunch (*few = 26).  But then, being the perfectionista that she is, she decided she hated everything she’d ever written, and so she resorted to using fresh material.
Twenty-six days ensued, and like that line at the IKEA return counter (where you have to get a number from the number-giving machine) that you think will never end and they will never call you and you will end up not able to go home to your family for fear of them calling your number right when you step away to make a quick phone call (to the returns department of IKEA) or to use the ladies’ room to check your shiny red lipstick which is mostly worn off from pouting, right then when you are gone, that is when you know they will call your number and so as a precautionary measure you end up getting a job in the IKEA café just because you are still waiting for them to call your number, and that is when you hear them call—

“Number 26, please?  Number 26 is up!” 
Just like that, the alphabet is all over. 

You have to admit:  you saw it coming.  Queen Virgo tried to warn you, what with going methodically in order and all.  She even went so far as to set you up on blind dates with other blogs (Clay BaboonsCrack You Whip, Good Youngman Brown) to let you down easy.
Queen Virgo is tired.  She needs to hop in a taxi and get away for a day or two.  Please understand. 


754. Ziploc Baggie Starts With "Z"

Ziploc baggies are my life.  I use them for everything.  Wet swimsuit?  Ziploc.  Goldfish crackers?  Ziploc.  Crayons to use at the restaurant while waiting for our order?  Ziploc.  Make-up I tell myself I might actually wear sometime?  Ziploc! 

So it should come as no surprise that I take a Ziploc bag upstairs with me when I decide to nibble on my chocolate bar while typing my latest blog post.

Yes, the Universe was smiling on me and had my favorite marzipan chocolate bars in stock at Target last time I went there. 

I bought 120 of them, just to be safe.  They might run out.   

But the chocolate is so rich, so decadent, that no one can possibly eat an entire bar in one sitting.  Hence, the Ziploc bag.
I tear off a small square of chocolate.  The first square is the worst, meaning the best, because it is establishing the precedent for my whole mouth.  That first bite reminds my tongue how magical this chocolate is, how special.  The first bite warns my teeth to take cover from imminent cavities, but the teeth don’t care. 

Mmmmmmmmmm.  I am in love. 
I eat one third of the bar, because honestly, who could ever inhale more than one third?  That would be ridiculous gluttony.  I slip the other two thirds of my chocolate bar (still in its wrapper) into their safe haven:  the Ziploc baggie.  I will go put it back in the frig in a while.  

At least five minutes go by.  All right, 30 seconds.  The frig is far away, all the way back downstairs, who has that kind of time to store things there?  Plus, I am suddenly realizing that my favorite chocolate is a victim of some new marketing strategy and redesign where they made the chocolate bar smaller.  Aha, that explains it.  That is why I am hungry for more so soon. 
No one will care if I eat half a bar.  It’s not like I live with the Chocolate Police or anything.  Half is a reasonable amount.  There, I save the rest for later. 

Later comes in about 10 minutes.  I am starving!  I think I forgot to eat lunch today, well, that sandwich and apple and chips don't really count, do they?  I need another square of chocolate, just one square. 
Somehow, all that is left now is the empty wrapper inside the Ziploc.  How did that happen?  And how did these chocolate crumbs melt all over the front of my t-shirt? 

I take the candy wrapper out of the Ziploc bag.  I walk downstairs and put the Ziploc back in the box inside the kitchen drawer.  Wow, the box is still full of Ziploc baggies!  I thought I had been going through them pretty fast, but I guess not. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

753. Youngman Brown Starts With "Y"

I think I'm in love. 

Remember that guy in high school who made you and everyone else laugh?  The one that even the teachers and vice-principal were a bit intimidated by because of his scathing wit?  I’m not talking about the class clown, I’m talking about the guy who was so smart, so insightful, that everything he said was hilarious and true.  Everyone wanted to stand near him so some of the funny might accidentally rub off, like glitter or newspaper ink.  It never did. 

Let me introduce you to that guy.  His name is Good Youngman Brown.  I like to think that I discovered him, but like Abraham Lincoln telling Christopher Columbus that this was not India and he was lying, I must confess:  I did not actually discover him. 

He writes an impossibly funny blog, and supposibly one of his pet peeves are grammatrical mistakes!  And lack of subject/ verb agreement!  And he hates bad spelers!  Imagine!  I will make him an honorary Virgo, because I'm nice like that.   
Go read his stuff, and then follow him (not in a creepy stalkerish way, more in a lost-and-maybe-he'll-give-you-directions-and-loan-you-bus-fare kind of way):  may I present to you one of my favorite writers, the fantabulous Youngman Brown.  His topic today is the revered Alumni newsletter. 
Okay, what are you still doing here?  Scoot! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

752. X-ray Starts With "X"

We didn’t actually start with the x-ray, we finished with it.  “Yes, it’s broken,” verified the doctor, proving that Short was, in fact, not being overly dramatic after all when he was screaming in agony.  “His collarbone is broken.” 

I had been with him.  Short was merrily running down the sidewalk with me following along just five feet behind him, like we do every day of our lives.  He tripped on something (a branch? a bump in the cement?  his own two feet?  nothing?) and then next thing you know, he was crumpled on the ground, gripping his shoulder in pain. 

I'd heard the bone break.  (It's a chilling sound, it haunts me even nowa decisive "snap.")  Time stood still while I prayed that Short's face would not be covered in blood.  There was no blood, not a drop.  I scooped up my wailing child and carried him two blocks home.  We made a frantic call to a neighbor so we could drop off Tall, then The Husband and I drove Short to the ER. 

“Well, hello, MOV, back so soon?” greeted the girl at the check-in desk. 
“Hi, Denise, nice to see you again,” I nodded at her.

A nurse brought us back to a small exam room where we waited for the doctor.  Short lay his head on my lap and whimpered.  After what seemed like four hours but was most likely 20 minutes, he came in. 
“MOV, how’ve you been?  Which kid do you have with you today?”  the doctor asked.  “Oh, and did you remember to bring your frequent patient card with you this time?  You know the 10th visit is free.”   

I handed him my keychain, where I had wedged the frequent patient card through the loop next to my car key.  “I never leave home without it,” I forced a laugh. 
Short sat up.  “Am I going to get a cast?” he inquired. 

“Let’s just take a look at what we’ve got here.”  Next, a technician took Short into the x-ray room.  A few minutes later, the doctor and I were looking at the x-rays on the light screen.
“See that?  That’s the break.  We’ll put him in a sling and he’ll be good as new in six weeks.” 

Six weeks?  The bone could repair itself in just six weeks?  There was to be no cast, no surgery … just Children’s Tylenol, rest, and a sling.  The doctor gently touched Short's shoulder as he adjusted the small sling across his chest; Short cried out unexpectedly, his loud scream piercing through the hospital chaos.   
It’s a good thing they didn’t x-ray my heart at that moment:  there’s an irreparable fracture from me being helpless while witnessing my child endure such pain. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

751. Word Cut Starts With "W"

I’ve been cheating on you.  There, I admit it.  I can’t believe you didn’t know.  All the signs were there:  shorter and shorter posts, I was beginning to repeat myself, I was beginning to repeat myself, sloppy editting, plus the fact that I hadn’t answered any of the myriad new comments in about four weeks. 

I’m sorry.  The rumors are true.  I have not been faithful to my blog.  I started another blog, and I am now regretting that I never told you. 

It started out innocently enough on my other blog:  some flash fiction, a few writing challenges, a place to let my imagination run.  One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was donning a poorly-made brunette wig and sneaking out in the middle of the night wearing nothing but a trench coat and cheap perfume to sign up for the A to Z Challenge on both blogs. 

That’s right, two blogs, two challenges, two seconds of weakness when I clicked the mouse that said, “submit.”  Twice.    
The mothersofbrothersblog thing would be easy for me:  I could chat about life like I always did.  I struggled with what I was going to write for my other blog.  Then it came to me like a lightening bolt riding on a cheetah’s back racing another cheetah in the animal Olympics:  travel.

I was a flight attendant for a decade:  I could do this! 

I could write about places I visited!  This would not only be a piece of cake, this would be a piece of chocolate layer cake with M&M frosting.


It has actually been more like mowing a lawn of six foot tall weeds with a broken hair clippers and no extension cord. 

Writing one blog is hard; creating two original posts daily is next to impossible.  I am exhausted. 

But I’m still writing, have not missed a day, and, like a very long tunnel where you forgot to bring coins to pay the toll booth, the end is finally in sight. 

Why am I telling you all this?  I just thought if you like my writing style, you might really enjoy getting to know another side of me:  the pre-kid traveler girl that I was. 


Sunday, April 22, 2012

750. Very Starts With "V"

Very was lurking around again.  He knew he should just get back in that sentence where I’d put him, but he was having none of it. 

“You know what I hate?” asked Very rhetorically, “I hate when you say you are very, very tired.  Well, guess what—I am tired from being used twice in a row when once is fine!” 
Just lately, Very had been known to be very dramatic.  “And another thing,” he was on a roll now, nothing would stop him, “sometimes I am just not the right word!  Don’t get lazy and just grab at me when you know the word you really want is an extreme adjective and not just an intensifier or qualifier.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I could see he was getting very upset. 
“Please, Very, come on, sit down over here,” I pointed to a very comfortable couch, which I knew he would deem just too squishy.  “Sounds like you’ve had a rough time lately, what with being overused and all.  Maybe you could just use a very cold drink?” 

“NO.  That is exactly what I am talking about.  I don’t want a very cold drink, I want a refreshing drink or an icy-cold drink.  You’re just wasting my time.” 
I stifled a very small laugh.   

Very started to cry.  I’d never seen this side of him.  “Just stop using me!  Why can’t I ever catch a break?  Make someone else do some extra work for a change!  Just leave me alone!” 
I leaned in to give him a very sympathetic hug, but just then, our good friend, Just, walked in. 

“Talk about overuse,” said Just, just picking up the last words of our conversation, “you have no idea.” 
(“Manipulating Obstinate Very”)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

749. Uniform Starts With "U"

I was born wearing a uniform.  I naturally gravitate toward the simplicity it offers.  I love knowing my attire is acceptable in a given situation:  t-shirt, jeans or khakis, tennis shoes; in the summer, swap for shorts.  Now, as a mom, this makes my life easier.  A uniform whispers, Don’t obsess about what to wear.           

Back in the mid-1980’s, my parents sent me to a private high school that required uniforms.  While the other students saw this as oppressive, I viewed it as liberating.  Four happy years of my life were spent wearing a plain white blouse, navy plaid skirt, and saddle shoes.  A uniform announces, You belong. 
My first real job was at a health club.  I did not exactly look like a college grad wearing my uniform of a preppy pink polo shirt (and plastic name tag) paired with tan shorts, but I did save big on my clothing budget.  A uniform helpfully suggests, Save your money.      
I left the health club job to pursue a more lucrative offer working in a hotel.  And, along with the job upgrade came a uniform upgrade:  a navy suit.  Navy always was my color, and it was the uniform United Airlines handed me a few years later when I began my career as a flight attendant. 
“I could not wear a uniform day after day after day,” says my friend Trish, her voice oozing condescension.  “It would be too depressing, to look like everyone else.”

Trish, of course, is wrong.  As a flight attendant, I stood out from the passengers, and the uniform gave me an aura of power and authority.  A uniform declares, Treat me with respect.
Is it any wonder that my younger son adores his first real uniform, a navy and white soccer jersey?  “I am on a team, Mommy,” he explains, “and this is our special outfit so everyone knows I am a real soccer player.” 

He wears the uniform every day, whether he has practice or not.  I have to beg him to take it off so I can wash it.  “Short, come on, it’s filthy.  Wear something else for half an hour.”    

“No, Mommy,” he resists, “it’s fine.” 
Deciding it’s not worth the struggle, I relent and let him wear it for the rest of the day.  That evening, he refuses to put on pajamas. 

“I’m sleeping in it!” he demands.        
“Short,” I say, as my patience evaporates, “NO.”    

“Oh, Mommy, I love my uniform so much,” he sobs, his eyes brimming with tears, “but you wouldn’t understand.” 

Friday, April 20, 2012

748. Tolerance Starts With "T"

I’d like to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart:  tolerance.  It is very important in today’s society to try your best to tolerate everybody.  Sure, you might want to punch that neighbor in the face, the one that blocked your driveway with their oversized truck or stole your Car and Driver magazine (for the second month in a row), but you don’t.  Instead, you practice tolerance.

I myself am a very tolerant person.  When people cut in front of me in line at Starbucks, I almost never intentionally sneeze on them.  When a waitress spills coffee all over my new linen skirt, I don’t “forget” to leave her a tip (a dollar is still a good tip no matter what anybody says).  The point is:  give people the benefit of the doubt. 

Another thing I am extremely tolerant of is religion.  I really don’t care what religion someone is as long as they don’t try to convert me to it.  If they happen to be my exact same religion, I still might choose not to discuss it, and I practice my tolerance by putting on headphones and ignoring them when they ask why have not been to church in the past six years.  Okay seven.  (I'm talking to you, Aunt Doris!)  
So, to wrap up here, I just want to say:  be tolerant.  It makes you a better person, and an easier one for me to be around. 

**Feel free to leave a comment about this!  Comments are welcomed and encouraged, and absolutely will NOT be deleted unless they disagree with me.  In that case, they will be deleted immediately if not sooner. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

747. Spontaneity Starts With "S"

I am a very spontaneous person.  This is no fluke.  Spontaneity takes advance work, and total dedication.  Like anything worth doing in life, spontaneity requires a list.

How To Be Spontaneous:  An Indispensable User's Guide 
  1. Write down when you plan to be spontaneous.  For myself, I usually do this 2-3 weeks in advance. 
  2. When your spontaneous day arrives, put on an outfit that encourages spontaneity.  For example, an orange sweater screams “impromptu.”  (Ed. note:  make sure you have picked it up from the dry cleaners the day before.)  Take an umbrella with you in case it rains.  It’s hard to be spontaneous when you’re soggy.
  3. Kids are pretty much synonymous with spontaneity.  Ask them what strategies they recommend.  Wait, kids also eat worms for fun.  Maybe don’t ask their opinion after all. 
Sometimes, I will go for a short walk to coax my spontaneity from captivity in the locked cages of my brain.  I tell myself, be spontaneous!  be spontaneous!  be spontaneous!  It’s working, I can feel it.  I’m starting to get a headache. 

I bring a notepad with me so I can track my spontaneity.  I set the timer on my watch to beep every five minutes so I can rank my level of spontaneity for that precise moment.  I was using a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the most spontaneous), but then I switched to 1-100 for improved accuracy.  And then I decided that the number 1 should be the most spontaneous, not 100.  Then I changed my mind and switched back.  Then I couldn’t remember my scale, so I gave everything a ranking of 50. 

Oh, gotta go!  My timer is beeping! 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

746. Refund Starts With "R"

Queen Virgo insisted that we file our taxes early this year.  At 8 AM on January 1st, when most people were sleeping off a hangover, Queen Virgo was calling her old boss at the high-end kitchen store asking where her W-2’s were.  

We received our refund last week.  The Husband and I knew exactly how we would spend it.  Yep, we each got a latte at Starbucks.  Grande.
No, actually, I'm joking.  We had enough money from our tax refund to have a custom bookcase built in the boys’ bedroom (they share a room).  It is anchored to the wall and cannot be moved.  If we ever sell the house, it will automatically convey, along with fresh splinters of my soul. 

I will show you the bookcase we had before.  It was nice, but did not make maximum use of the space. 

photo taken by MOV

So, we gave that bookcase to a friend of mine. 

Now, here is the new bookcase below.  
Photo taken by MOV

We love it.  As you can see, the capacity is more than double.  To put it in perspective, here is a photo of the bookcase with my younger son Short in front reaching for something.  It is a huuuuuuuuuge bookcase. 
photo taken by MOV

I designed the bookcase.  There are a few special features I would like to point out.  The shelves are deeper on the lower half of the bookcase.  The top part (sort of like a hutch) is only 12 inches deep.  The lower portion of the bookcase (base) is actually 18 inches deep (some of their books are oversized).  The counter top area (right where Short's hand is) is made of a natural birch wood. 

Let me give you a close-up of that so you know what I'm talking about.  

Photo taken by MOV
Each child gets to put his books on their half of the shelf unit.  We did a bead-board backing to go with the overall style of the room.  The counter top part lines up with the height of the ledge that tops the bead-board and wraps around the room.  The top of the bookcase by the ceiling has a thick molding, about 4 inches.  I thought this would look nice and dramatic.  The bookcase is so large (it is constructed as one piece), it would not fit down our tiny hallway (there is a turn in the hall).  The carpenter had to pop a window out and bring the whole shelf in through the window!  (He did put the window back later.)  I wish I took a picture of THAT ordeal! 

Here is one more photo of the finished product. 

photo taken by MOV
Ta-da!  The boys are really happy with it, and I am happy that there is less stuff on the floor.  I love built-in bookcases.