Friday, May 28, 2010

No Dice

We told the grandparents that we would be okay with sending Julia up for a week, but we'd like them to stay a day or two before then to give her time to warm up to them. They are unwilling to stay beforehand, and they said they don't want her to be uncomfortable. So she's not going with them. As much as a Julia-free week would be a nice break, we would have been constantly worrying about how she was coping, so it's probably for the best.

Thanks for your thoughts (as comments and in person).


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

To Send Her or Not

Today I had off from work, and I painted. Wow, what a revelation! I mean, it's not like I haven't been painting my arm off for 5 months or anything.

We are down to 5 rooms + the front door left to do. I know, it sounds like a lot. But considering where we started, it's quite an achievement.

I have a dilemma. The in-laws arrived into town to stay with S's brother about an hour away. They will stay there for 3 weeks. Then when the other relatives come into town, S's parents will come down to stay with us for 2 weeks (minus 3 days). The problem is that Miss J won't get much one-on-one time with her grandparents (and we feel like we're being used as merely a hotel, but that's a separate issue).

They have offered to take her from June 6 through the next week. They would come down for her birthday party (and she hasn't seen them for a year), and then after the party they would take her with her 2 cousins to the cousins' house for a week.

Our contention is that she won't be spending much one-on-one time during this visit, and having her spend time with them would help with bonding. The cousins would be in school during the day, so Julia would get to spend some one-on-one time with the grandparents. Plus she'd see a lot more of her cousins (two boys ages 10 and 7).

We're leery of how she will do. She hasn't seen those grandparents in a year, they come down for her birthday party, and how will she do getting put into a car with these people she doesn't remember while her parents wave at her from the front door of her house? I'm envisioning a lot of screaming on that car ride and the first night and the next day. When she goes into massive freakout mode, her world spirals. No eating, just pissed off screaming for a long time.

So the question is do you think she would do okay going to a strange place with strange people (to her) for a week? In an ideal world, she would get time to bond with them before going, but that's not going to happen. They don't want to come down in the days beforehand.

Another issue is the grandparents' ego. These people have an immense pride. They will not admit if she's not adjusting well. We would tell them that if she isn't doing well (i.e., eating nothing, profuse screaming, not sleeping) to call us and we'll come get her. Both S and I know that will not happen. They would never admit that she isn't hacking it because they would see that as them failing. So if she is freaking out & not eating, we don't believe they'd tell us and we'd have one miserable kid who wouldn't eat anything for a week.

Overall, Julia is making a ton of progress toward being a normal kid. She IS normal for the most part, but she's still really high strung (got that one from me).

My gut says it would be a really difficult 1-2 days and then at that point she'd have to give up and actually eat and/or sleep. Then it might smooth out some.

So is the benefit of her seeing her grandparents and cousins worth the cost of her likely being miserable for 1-2 days at least and being pissed off at us for sending her away? I think it would be different if she was more acclimated to her grandparents and if it was at our house instead of the cousins' house, but the cousins are still in school an hour away. On the other hand, we do want her to see her relatives more.

I just don't know.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The One and Only Child

I'm an only child. And frankly I don't mind. Is that bad? I've never thought I missed out on much. It's seems like when I was in school, all people did was complain about their siblings. As adults, it seems like some people are closer to their siblings than others. There's really quite a variance.

My mom and dad divorced when I was 2 years old, and my mother rarely dated. From a young age, I knew that the possibility of a sibling when your mother doesn't even date is rather low. And I never was itching for a sibling anyway...

When I say my mother rarely dated, it was because she really, really didn't date much. When I was 8 years old, she met a guy who was 13 years older than her. He would take her and I out to The Sizzler on maybe one Friday night a month. Afterward he would come back to our house and play a board game with me. Then my mom would walk him out to the car, and there was a 50/50 chance of a kiss. Of course I knew this because I spied on them between the blinds. Oh, shut up, you would too if you were 8 years old and living in the middle of nowhere, Texas, and this was your only form of entertainment besides reading the Boxcar Children series.

When I was 10, we moved to Las Vegas. And this gentleman would drive out to visit us every year or so. He'd stay for a few days.

Then when we moved up to this state, I went to see my dad during the move (I was 14) & apparently the same gentleman helped my mom move into our new house. I come back from visiting my dad, and they tell me they are getting married.

Huh? Their "relationship" has consisted of about 20 Sizzler dates with me there, and about 4 visits of 2-3 days over several years, and then 1 week of moving. I know their courtship - if you even call it that - lasted about 6 years, but they really didn't SEE each other much of that. They wrote letters and talked on the phone, but as far as in-person, there wasn't a whole lot. I know, nowadays people practically get married through the internet - but back in the 80s, people actually met face-to-face. Weird concept, huh?

When I was told that they were going to get married, I was also told that they would continue to live in separate states. Huh? Then why get married? When my mom told me, "Because I don't want to be alone when you leave the house," I had to laugh. Seriously? Not because he's the love of your life, but because you don't want to be alone and because you're basically settling?

My stepdad is a good guy. Is he really a stepdad? No, because they got married when I was 15 & he lived in a different state & he really hasn't impacted my life. He's a good, upstanding guy though.

I never really "got" their marriage. It didn't really ever (or even now) make sense to me. He was married before in his 20s, but he was a bachelor after that ended until 1993 when he married my mother. He was 56 when he married my mom. So they've been married for 17 years. When I think of that, it's like, "wow, they've been married for 17 years." But can you really say that when you don't live with your spouse and you file tax returns as being single? I don't know.

I'm slowly getting to a point. They got married when I was 15. And guess what happened when my very fertile mother (I was a diaphragm birth control accident, thank you very much) and my new stepdad hooked up on their honeymoon? Yes, yes, you guessed it - she's pregnant!

You really have to feel for my mother. One minute she's a single mother raising a teenager who is almost out the door. The next she's marrying someone she probably loves as a friend but one may speculate that she doesn't love like most people love people they are marrying. Then the next minute you're pregnant with another kid.

Being 15, I was not all that enthusiastic. It was kind of like the tables had turned. I was the one giving the speech: "Don't you know what causes this...." And my poor mother went to the pregnancy center & when she probably was there bawling and saying she had a teenager who was almost out the door, they actually told her that they are more used to seeing the 15 year old teenage girl rather than the 42 year old mother of the 15 year old teenage girl.

At the same time I was told that she was pregnant, I was then told that my future summer of being 16 was going to be taken up by my new half brother or sister. I was going to be the nanny after my mom went back to work. So, yeah, I would be lugging around a newborn as a 16 year old...for the whole summer. From my perspective, this was looking to be the most horrible summer. How can you pick up guys or do anything fun when you're lugging a newborn around...that's not even yours!!!! I wasn't the one who got pregnant, so why should I be a live-in nanny for free and give up my whole summer?

Perhaps not the most selfless 16 year old perspective, but come on - it's a valid perspective.

Oh yeah, and the stepdad would continue to live in Texas while my mom and I took care of the baby. Even weirder.

My mother miscarried at about 10 weeks. Sad because I wonder what this half brother or sister would be like, but probably it was for the best given the situation. My stepdad was very ill-equipped to deal with a baby and wouldn't be around. My mother and stepdad were kind of like strangers with each other anyway. My mom doesn't deal well with stress. And I would have ended up being a second mother figure for this child, which I suppose is okay, but would have been weird when starting my own life as an adult.

So after all that, I definitely was in the camp that being an only child was JUST FINE. And before my mom got remarried, I really never thought it was even a possibility.

Since my mom is almost 60 now, I'm pretty darn sure I'm going to be an only child for the rest of my life (my dad has since deceased). Now am I sure I am the only child on my dad's side? Who the heck knows, but as far as my dad's family is concerned, they only know about me.

- Only Child Signing Off for the Night

Friday, May 21, 2010

Frugal and Lazy

A few weeks ago I made homemade laundry detergent. There are two main reasons I experimented with this. 1) I’m cheap, errrrr… frugal. 2) I’ve been getting more and more sensitive to fragrances. Back when I was 13, I’d layer on the most hideous fragrances and be okay. Then in my late teens/early 20s, I couldn’t handle some fragrances. Now almost everything sets me off in a sneezing fit. The Tide/Downy combination (i.e., the Procter & Gamble double dose effect) is a killer. And I haven’t quite found a laundry detergent that is cost effective, cleans well & doesn’t irritate my respiratory system.

I made the powder version of the homemade laundry detergent. The liquid version involves boiling soap in a stockpot, five gallon containers & lots of stirring. Remember - I'm lazy. What I did was get a bar of fels naptha (soap), a container of WASHING soda, and a container of borax. First, grate the whole bar of fels naptha with a cheese grater. I did this while Julia was playing in the bathtub. Then I mixed it with 1 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of borax. Tada! That's it! Just use a tablespoon with each wash load (or a little more if it's extra dirty). What I do is use a heaping tablespoonful & if it's a really dirty load, I throw in some Oxy Clean as well.

I also found that the Dollar Store carries detergent – 32 loads for $1. That’s not bad and pretty price competitive with the homemade stuff. I haven’t done a detergent-to-detergent direct comparison (ya know, like the laundry commercials do), but it seems like the homemade stuff does a pretty good job and the Dollar Store detergent does an eh job. And the homemade version is definitely less fragrant.

So the jury is still out – but I’ll keep you posted if the homemade version is indeed the bee’s knees because it was super easy to make (and cheap…errrrrrr thrifty!).

Not only am I thrifty, but I am also lazy. I hate washing the car. I’ve owned my car for almost 2 years, and I STILL have not ever washed it. Okay, it’s dirty. It’s so dirty that you can now write “Wash Me!” in the dirt. But, again, I’m cheap and don’t want to take it to a carwash. I also don’t want to lug the hose from behind the basement, hook it up, get the soap and water in a bucket (but yet I’m okay with making homemade laundry detergent…go figure…okay, I’m an inside girl), and wash the car myself. After a downpour yesterday, I had a genius (to me) idea. The car had been sitting outside in the rain, so it was already wet. I ran outside with a rag and wiped down the really bad “wash me worthy” parts of the car. It doesn’t look great by any means, but it’s not quite so bad AND I didn’t use any water (from the city supply), and it was soooo easy to wipe down the car in 5 minutes.

So I’ve told you how I’m cheap (errrr…frugal) and lazy. My confession is that I can’t get into couponing much anymore. We cancelled the newspaper a few months ago (didn’t really read it), and life was hectic. It’s okay because even though I’d clip the coupons, it seemed like they would expire before I used them or it was for a product I was iffy on & couldn’t combine it with a good sale.

There are all these internet coupons nowadays. We don’t have a printer at home. Well, we have a printer, but we don’t have any wet ink for the printers. We don’t really print much, so it’s not worth it to buy ink. All the internet coupons seem to have these coupon downloader things that I’m sure keep track of you for Big Brother. Not that I really care about Big Brother, but our technology department seems to think that coupon downloader thing caused all of my virus problems earlier in the year. Honestly I did start having more and more problems after I installed it. And why put it on my home computer since I can't print? So I can’t really use those internet coupons, except for the ones you load on your shopper’s card.

I still get the weekly ads that list the sales and give some coupons as well. I will continue to do that, but I just don’t think I have it in me for the whole extreme couponing rage. I am subscribed to several extreme couponers and will certainly take advantage of any specials that don’t require a lot of effort in the way of downloading coupons and the like, and I like to see what kind of deals are out there.

My take is that extreme couponing really takes an investment in time initially. You do begin to reap the rewards quickly, but it takes time to get to your “A game” by having the stock of coupons ready to go. I wish all of the extreme couponers the best, and I love hearing the fantastic deals (and will definitely participate if I can in the Catalina deals and such)…I’m just not sure my heart is into the whole she-bang. Laziness wins over frugality.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


15.7 is the number of the day. I read a study by Hewitt & Associates that said that when you retire, you want to make sure that you have your final annual salary x 15.7 saved. Typically Social Security will provide 4.7 times your final annual salary for the rest of your life, so your actual personal responsibility for your retirement is 11 times (15.7 minus 4.7) your final salary by yourself through your 401(k)/403(b), IRAs, stock/bond portfolios, etc. If you’re fortunate enough to have a pension, you can diminish your personal responsibility for the 11 times your final annual salary by the amount you will be receiving from your pension.

I love financial planning. Over the past several years, I have calculated our retirement needs several different ways. I have done it with Excel (many vague assumptions), retirement calculators on a number of websites, and I always get about the same answer. Then when I compare this 15.7 figure (and my 11.0 personal estimated contribution), I get the same answer yet again! With a reasonable amount of confidence, barring that anything in our life changes substantially, I know how much our final “nest egg” target is.

The problem is that we are sooooo far away from it. We contribute the maximum we can, but if you’ve taken even an Introduction to Finance course, you know that the real increase is over time with compounding. Just letting that money sit for years and even decades. It takes a long time to get anywhere substantial. Sure, bumping up contributions do help, but being that we’re 10 years into this saving for retirement “thang,” the real payday for our retirement accounts is going to be that compound interest in 20 more years.

Here are some things we’d like to do with regard to our retirement:

- Pay off the house before retirement. We did it once, we can do it again!

- I’d like to retire by 55; preferably 52. This is challenging because it costs so much more to retire at 52 vs. 67. I’m not saying I won’t work after 52; it’s just that I hope to not HAVE to work. I’d probably go nuts without working to some extent, but I’d want to work just enough to pay my portion of the expenses.

- Pay for a vast majority, if not all, of Miss J’s college. She has a nice sum in her 529 plan already (about the tuition for 4 years at a state school). That’s the advantage of being DINKs for 8 years before she was born; we could save quite a bit for her. Now if she chooses to go to Yale and doesn’t get any scholarships, well, Miss J is going to have to cough up her own chunk of change. But there should be enough in there by the time she goes to college to pay for 4 years at a state school (hopefully including room & board as well as tuition).

- Personally I’d like to live off the interest that our investments generate and never tap into the principal. Wishful thinking, huh? Retire at 52 AND not touch the principal? Crazy, I know.

So we know much we'll need. We know approximately what our lifestyle will be. We just need to get there, and really all we need to do is continue to diligently save and hope the economy doesn't go in the crapper for an extended amount of time (because that will definitely impact our retirement projections).

If you haven't started planning for retirement, I encourage you do to so. If you have, congrats and keep it up!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why I Hate Painting the Basement

Why I hate painting the basement:

1. The old paint is so dark that it takes 2-3 coats to paint over it, versus everywhere else in the house where it only takes 1 coat. Why in the heck would you paint a basement such a dark color to begin with???

2. The ceilings are taller than on the other floors. I think they are 10 feet, versus 9 feet elsewhere. I know it doesn't sound like a big difference, but when you're standing on a stepstool, craning your head even more than usual does make a huge difference. My neck is killing me after 30 minutes of painting the upper wall and ceiling. I got such a neck ache that I only painted the lower walls, which is gonna suck tomorrow when I just have the high stuff left.

3. It is best to paint it when Julia isn't here. When she is here and awake, she wants to "help." And when she's asleep, the basement is so far away from her room that I can't hear her if something is wrong. So every 10 minutes or so I walk up the two flights of stairs to make sure I can't hear her. I know, get a monitor, you say. Well, it's kind of like never changing her in a public restroom. I'm not caving at this point.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


There are a gazillion frogs outside our house. I'm not sure whether they are primarily located in the stormwater runoff thing that's sorta behind our house or if they are in the state park, which is right behind the storm runoff thing. Maybe they are in both places. Either way, they are LOUD!

Let me back up. It's finally getting warmer here after being in the low 50s during the day and upper 30s at night since the start of spring. We're now at 65-70 during the day & upper 40s at night. Our house is three levels. The furnace is beside our bedroom, which is on the third floor. The thermostat is on the middle floor, right at the top of the stairs to the basement. So all the cool basement air affects the thermostat, particularly because there is no door at the top of the basement stairs (there SHOULD be a door, it makes the most sense). Since the furnace is right next to our room and heat rises, our room gets toasty fairly quickly whenever the furnace comes on. After all, we're probably the first few vents on the furnace circuit & the furnace is sitting 5 feet away, so we get all the good hot air. Now, if you think about this, the basement is two floors away and mostly on the other side of the house, so the basement gets remnant heat that doesn't get spewed out before it gets down there. I'm not quite sure if it's even possible for heat to come out of those vents if you think about the physics of it. The home inspector said it does, but my personal test concluded: "nope."

In the winter, we'd keep the heat set at 60 when we were home. Yes, I get laughed at all the time about my "inhumane" thermostat ways, but I think we will agree that 60 degrees in this house feels different (warmer) than 60 degrees in the old house. Well, it probably comes down to the location of that stupid thermostat. Cold air from the basement stairwell is blasting the thermostat all day, so the furnace is always on. Even when it says it's 60 on the main floor, that's probably the temperature for that little spot. It's 62-64 probably elsewhere on the floor, and then upstairs in our room it's got to be 66 or so. When the furnace is on, our personal thermometer that we bought said that (since the heating of our house intrigues me to no end). And when the middle floor's thermostat says 60, the thermometer says the basement is 56-58.

Now that it's getting hotter, the heat's not coming on. The thermostat says 65 (morning) - 68/69/70 (later in the day). Our room is starting to get toasty (remember that I am perfectly fine sleeping in 56 degrees and actually prefer it). Our room is now in the 70s, and I don't want to turn on the fan for fear of leg amputation. Hey, it's a legitimate fear!

Opening the window brings two problems though. First my allergies. I seem to be allergic to everything outside, and there's a big ol' pile of everything in nature in our backyard. Second, the frogs. They are LOUD! There's so many of them that you can't hear individual frogs; it's a constant din of ... noise. From about 8pm to early in the morning, and then the birds take over where the frogs leave off.

I'm happy to live so close to nature, really I am. I just think it will take some time to figure out the temperature regulation in this house and learn to tune out all of the nature noises.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bank of America, take my money please!

We refinanced with Bank of America because it was going to be the lowest overall cost when you take into account the interest rate & the closing costs. We had a dickens of a time with the old loan (from Dec 2009 to March 2010). But we thought it would be okay because of two things: 1) We got out of them escrowing our homeowners insurance and property taxes and 2) We signed up for autopay.

Well, here I am in the fortunate situation to want to pay some extra principal on the mortgage. My question was how to do this. Back in the day at Washington Mutual (*tear*), I just went into the branch and made an extra payment with the same teller I always visited.

Today we got our mortgage statement, and it was advertising a way to pay online!!!! Woohoo! It would be so awesome if I could make an extra payment that way. I had checked within the past month, and I hadn't been able to. But I had some faith as I logged in & followed the directions it had. Unfortunately I could only get to Step 3, as I didn't have the option it said to click on. Alas, I relearned that Washington State is on a different system as the rest of the country. They started on the east coast and worked their way west and then the financial markets tanked in 2008 and then their priorities changed, but Washington was still on the old system...blah blah blah blah blah.

So I can't pay my extra payment online.

I can do it through the telephone, but I'm charged $20.

Then I take another look at that dang statement. There is NO address for payments to be mailed. I don't know if it's because we're on autopay or what. It's not like I was excited about mailing in a payment anyway because remember how Bank of America lost the half a million dollar check last time. I'm sure I could call or look on their website to get an address, but I'm not sure it's worth dealing with their idiotic payment department when they inevitably lose yet another check.

So that only leaves me the branch option. I'm not even sure you can make a payment in the branch. Then there comes the problem of how do I do this. I do have a Bank of America checking account - that one I didn't want, but I was forced to have in order to see my account online. It's not like I can DO anything with my account online, but at least I can see the current balance and stuff. That checking account has $19 in it. So if I want to make the payment, don't I have to use that checking account? The last time I used my Chase account at Bank of America, they (I'm not sure which bank) charged me a cash advance fee. That twirked me off, and I eventually got a refund but still...grrrr. I can move money from Chase electronically, but there's a fee for that. I suppose I could go to Chase and withdraw the money in cash, then walk across the street and deposit it in Bank of America. That's stupid though.

I miss Washington Mutual. A lot.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two, no Three, Things

1. Do you know what twirks me today? Those places that take up collections for various charities & then they turn around and give the money that YOU donate as THEIR money. I think it was Home Depot most recently that did this. Would you like to donate a dollar to whatever cause (yes, I forgot because I am lame)? Of course it's a masterful plan because you feel like crap if you say no. But when you really think about it, why do it? If you actually support the cause, donate the $$ directly to the organization because YOU will get the (tax) credit instead of Home Depot. Because you know what will happen, you'll forget that you donated the money and not get the credit at tax time. Then Home Depot will claim "they" donated $1 million to Whatever Cause when it was actually that guilt-inducing question at checkout that they got 1 million people to say yes to. So my advice is to always decline at the checkout and then give directly to whatever charity you want to.

2. Let's say you call Domino's and get a large cheese pizza for carryout. When you sign the receipt, they have a space for a tip. Why oh why should I give a tip? I asked for a large cheese pizza, and I got a large cheese a PIZZA CHAIN. You took my order and assembled a basic order & I came to pick it up. Is that tip worthy? Or is that a way to lure employees by paying them minimum wage and say to them that they have tip possibilities because someone nicer than I may come along and give them a tip for doing their job? Because I'm passive aggressive and like to avoid even dealing with the issue, I like to pay via credit card over the internet (where it doesn't ask you for a tip) or pay in cash.

3. Mother's Day, ugh. I think Valentine's Day and Mother's Day rank #1 and #2 for female-to-female one upsmanship. Valentine's Day is particularly horrible. Because receiving 3 dozen roses at work apparently means you're more loved than the chick who just got a card. See, this is one reason women can drive me bonkers. They have this crazy ass logic that makes no sense. Because to me if any guy sent me 3 dozen roses to work, I'd think he is a complete money waster who is just trying to impress me with laying down his credit card over the phone during his morning break that day. Loser. If he really had some thought, he'd make me a gourmet meal and give me a massage. Make him actually work vs. having some sneeze-inducing waste of money sit on my desk for all the women to be jealous of. And Mother's Day is about the same as far as the whole "My kids got me a Gucci bag," eyeroll-inducing brag. Well, my kid is almost 2 and she drew random circles on a card. And even when she's 22, she better not send me roses. I'll take that meal, and it can even be Domino's but I'd tell her to pay with cash or pay for it via internet beforehand so she doesn't have to deal with the awkward tip for doing your job thang.

Ho hum

Life has been tedious lately. Go to work, come home and work on the house, work work work. We're trying to get things done before The Descent (aka 10 relatives come to visit & I go elsewhere until they leave). Hubby made great progress on the laundry room floor this weekend. The old floor was 15-year old vinyl, and I think a previous owner had some sort of dog crate in the laundry room. I swear I could smell something animal-ish, plus there were all these yellow stains on the vinyl. Ick. We are the proud owners of a pretty tile floor now. It's done but not done done - i.e., the baseboards still need to be put back, the door needs to be trimmed on the bottom (the tile comes up higher than the vinyl did), the appliances need to be hooked up, some drywall needs to be repaired from when the hubby was a tad too rambunctious pulling up plywood, etc.

Last Thursday I finished painting the basement. That was a big space that took 5 gallons of paint and 2-3 coats of paint. I'm going to start the hallway this week. Hopefully it will only take 1 coat since the new color is pretty much the same as the old color. The paint job is original from when the house was built, like the vinyl in the laundry room, and it's starting to look rough.

It's going to be a busy few months. I don't like busy. I like laying around like a bum. I do that well: no schedules, no huge to-do list, plenty of staring out the window and dancing with Julia.

Speaking of Julia, it's hard to believe she's almost two years old. The first year went excrutiatingly slow. Colic + eating issues + constant screaming = time seemed to stand still. This past year has been a lot better. Lots of smiles and learning going on. More than her fair share of screaming still, but we're working on it.

I suppose I should call it a night. I did a bit of taping off in preparation for painting this week and had a late night snack with Julia in my bed. She went to bed at her normal time, but she's had a hard time getting to sleep lately. I put her to bed at 7:15pm, and then at 8:15pm she started yelling that she wanted water. I go to get her water, and she wants crackers too. And she wants out. So I got her some water & a handful of crackers & we sat in my bed. I did a slideshow of Julia pictures for her while she ate some crackers (hey, extra calories!) and she drank some water. Then we tackled each other and argued over Squishy.

Squishy has been my pillow since I was little. It is/was a feather pillow that's seen MUCH better days. It's a deflated little thing that's not really a pillow, per se, but rather something soft you hold while your head is on a real pillow. Anyway, this pillow and I are best buds. Well, as you might expect, Julia has taken to MY pillow. So whenever she sees it, "Squishy...mine!" Oh no, little girl, Squishy is MINE! So, yeah, it was a small argument/tug-of-war over a pillow. I anticipate it won't be the last argument over whose Squishy is.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I have a huge amount of dread for the tail end of June and early July. My lovely husband’s family will be descending onto our house. They are good people, but let’s just say 10 extra people in one house (grand total of 13 people) is a bit MUCH. Or am I hallucinating and that’s not that many people? The 10 extra people seem to think it’s not a big deal, so perhaps I am the one who is misinformed.

Here are the things I know about the visit:

My mother-in-law will take over our kitchen.

My father-in-law will watch Fox News compulsively and yell at the TV about politics.

There will be 4-6 extra kids in the house (only 1 of which is a girl), and they WILL wrestle and play video games.

The relatives from overseas (who live in a tropical climate) will complain about how COLD it is, and so will S’s parents, who live in AZ. I refuse to turn on the heat in late June and early July just on principle. Get a dang blanket and quit your bitchin’, or you can go to a hotel and put on the heat there.

Utilities for 13 people? How much garbage will we all produce? That’s a whole lot of water.

Why in the WORLD MUST I take off the first week in July to be home with all of them? Work is my sanity during all this, and making me stay home is horrible, horrible punishment for doing a good job. Work is closed for that week.

I am so happy that I’m an only child & my side of the family doesn’t do this.

My mother-in-law’s world will continue to revolve around her eldest son.

Even though the tropical climate batch of relatives asked to stay with us, there is no way you can say “no.”

A studio apartment is looking really, really appealing.

For any of you who say having 10 extra people stay with you isn’t that bad, I’m taking that as you’re volunteering to take some or all of them. Let’s see how fast you return them.

Gifts of Valium and Xanax kindly accepted.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The downside of a self checkout

Today I took Julia to Lowe's. Hubby needed specific screws (which I took an example of because all I know is that there are a zillion screws there and they are all slightly different from each other). I wasn't planning on being long, and we were between meals & she doesn't poop in public so I didn't even take the diaper bag. Did you know I STILL haven't used a public changing table? My child is almost two. For the first six months it was a kind of fun fact. At this point, it's kind of an embarrassing fact. I don't take her to stores for long treks. I was never the kind of person who could walk around the mall for 3 hours to begin with. Add a kid to the mix, and there's no way I'm going to spend that kind of time now.

Julia refuses to sit in the top part of the cart (where they are supposed to sit). For a while, she'd let me sit her sideways in that top part, so her legs were going along the width of the front of the cart. Then she started refusing even that, so for the past several months I've been sitting her in the big part of the cart. She doesn't get up or anything, and she likes to hold the merchandise in the cart. Keeps her quiet, she has some fun, the main objectives on any outing.

A Lowe's employee helped me find the specific package of screws. "Hold it!" she reminds me, so I give them to her.

We get to the lines, and the self check-out doesn't have a line. She's pretty good about giving me stuff if I give it back. I tell her I'll give her the package of screws back to her. I scan it, but you know with those self check-outs you have to put the merchandise in the bag for it to weigh it. Well, SOMEONE didn't like that. Commence tantrum: kicking, trying to get out, reaching for the screws, tears, and screaming. Lots of screaming. And those self check-outs take forever - press the buttons to pay, slide card, do verification code, sign for it. All the while Miss Thang is carrying on about the screws sitting in the bag that she wants me to give her, but which I can't or it will do that buzzer to the attendant.

So I just let her carry on for a few minutes while I paid. I told her I had to pay, and then she would get to hold it. Of course she was so mad that she didn't hear me. And she just kept carrying on with her tantrum. 18 months ago I would have been completely mortified if my kid was crying in the store. 18 months ago she cried ALL. DAY. LONG. Hence, I don't think I took her to any store until she was at least 6-7 months. At that age she still screamed quite a bit, but she would be distracted by the new environment for long enough to run in & get some milk. Today right after I paid, I handed her the bag, and she immediately stopped carrying on. I kind of wondered if that rewarded her for the tantrum, but I knew during the whole thing that she had willingly given me the screws to scan on the condition that I would give them back to her. If it's a regular cashier, they are pretty good about handing whatever it is back to her. These self checkouts don't work that way.

I was kind of proud that I didn't allow myself to get mortified. I was proud that I didn't take the diaper bag (of course I could have easily regretted that had it been needed). I still haven't taken the step of a diaper change in a public restroom, but we can't conquer Rome in a day, can we?