Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 30

It seems impossible that December begins tomorrow, but I looked at my calendar, and it is so. I did all my Christmas decorating aside from the actual tree today. Tomorrow I will begin lighting candles in my own version of an advent calendar. We've got a tea light in each of twenty-four cans, set out on a little table that the cats think is theirs to hide under, and we will light one each night (tea lights, not cats--we don't have enough cats for that). It will be a little light that grows each evening until it is Christmas Eve, and then all will be merry and bright.

We've already got plenty of Christmas plans, not to mention the special holiday activities we've still got to schedule, such as vet appointments for the cats and dental visits for us. The eye doctor sent us a reminder card, so we'll probably show up there, too. We do like to keep it festive around here. But don't worry--we'll save a little something for the new year. Perhaps we can wait until 2009 to get our cholesterol checked.

I am looking forward to the season and to the new year. My hope is that 2009 will find us finishing our myriad house projects and embarking on something brand new. In the meantime, I plan to do my best to enjoy the journey.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Three Books You Should Read If You Haven't Already

1. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy
2. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler
3. Mornings Like This, by Annie Dillard

The last one is poetry and is best read aloud to someone who will listen and pretend to care.

Tomorrow is the last day of NaBloPoMo. I haven't been able to write as much as I might have liked, but it's been a good exercise--and a good month--nevertheless. One more day, then onward to December.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I've gotten so many good gifts for my birthday that I thought I'd give one to you. It's a picture of my cat; I know how much you like those.

birthdays are for relaxing

Happy My Birthday!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Attempt at Aging Gracefully

Tomorrow I am turning 33. This seems old to me, in a way that turning 32 did not. In fact, for some reason, turning 33 seems older than turning 34. If that sounds ridiculous, it's because it is ridiculous. I've heard that's what happens when you reach your mid-thirties: you simply become ridiculous, and that's that.

To celebrate the day, I am taking care of my Saturday baby and hanging out in my pajamas. I requested that her parents bring her here instead of me going there partly because it's an earlier morning than my usual Saturday shift, and partly because I really do want to spend an extended period of time in my pajamas tomorrow. I was thinking earlier in the week of what the best birthday gift would be, and I came up with two things:

1. To be able to use my 15% off coupon to get something pretty at Anthropologie.
2. To not have to paint the house myself.

The first one is a done deal, as I received some money for my birthday, which I feel I can fritter away on frivolities instead of feeling like it must be budgeted in to pay for something for the house. The second one may be a bit of a stretch, but Jarod has promised to work on it, and I am pretending it will take him no time at all to finish the job. A girl can dream, can't she?

I did think of a third thing that I wanted late last night, after the preliminary two-item list had already been cemented in my mind, which is to see a movie in the theatre instead of just saying that we want to see it, intending to see it, and then missing it because we are too busy. We'll be seeing Australia tomorrow; I'm very excited. I plan on sneaking in a coffee and some snacks from home. It'll be just like old times, when we actually left our house to do fun things instead of planning parties that revolve around home improvement chores. It is likely that in this case, a good time will be had by all. Hooray!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today's Nanny Tip

We've reached that WHaaaaaaT? portion of the day, in which both children are saying my name with a question mark at the end so often that I respond with exasperation. What now? This is also the portion of the day where my chosen method of sibling rivalry diffusion is hard at work. I don't get in the middle of arguments unless someone has gotten physically or seriously emotionally hurt, instead choosing to remind them that they need to figure out how to get along. When one tattles on the other, I merely remind the offended party that they are not always nice to their sibling, then make a mental note of the offense for use later. That way, when the opposite sibling comes to me with a complaint, I can simply say, "Well, you did (fill in blank with previous offense) to her earlier, so I guess you're even. It's too bad you two are having a hard time figuring out how to get along today." I know there are plenty of parents and caregivers that would get in the middle of every single argument and play judge and jury, but I don't think that's wise. Not only will you get worn out and never get the real story anyway, but the kids will not learn how to resolve conflict. Obviously if it's something serious, you should get involved, but for normal sibling (or friend) rivalry? Let 'em figure it out. That's my tip to you.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's 11pm--Let's Make Cookies!

Ah, the holidays--when everything is supposed to be merry and bright, but really I'm just running around like a chicken with its head cut off. There are bright spots, sure, but honestly? I'm one of those annoying people that loses weight during the holidays due to the stress. If I had my way, I'd spend the holidays in Tahiti and just phone it in. As it is, I have lots of places to go and plenty of extra work. That's just the way it is in my profession; when everyone else has time off, I have more work. Add to that the gift shopping and the extra cooking (which, for Thanksgiving, is mostly non-existent this time--thanks, Mom) and the extra places to be and you get me mixing up cookie dough at 11pm.

I am really looking forward to January 2nd.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Food for Thought

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it." -Upton Sinclair

Or, alternatively, I might say when the lifestyle he is accustomed to living depends on him not understanding it.

There are a great many changes that I've made in my life in recent years after coming to understand the way things are bought and sold and raised and made. I find that now that I know certain things, I can't go back to the way I lived before. I can't go back to blithely drinking soda when I understand where high fructose corn syrup comes from and what effects it has on the body, not to mention what effects growing and subsidizing so much corn has on our environment and our economy. I can't purchase grocery store meat anymore for many of the same reasons. But at the same time, there are things I have chosen not to investigate. I'm sure the chocolate trade has its share of dirty little secrets. I'm quite certain that many of my bargains from TJ Maxx and Target have less than noble beginnings. It is hard to give up that which we are accustomed to having, and particularly in difficult economic times it is hard to prioritize spending more on things that are better for everyone, and not just for our pocketbooks. I'd like to say that I'll make a conscious effort to do better, but I think for now all I can say is that I am beginning to be ready to do better in some areas that I was previously willing to ignore. I'm tackling one thing at a time. And honestly? Chocolate won't be first.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Just a Good Quote for a Late Sunday Night

"I don't underestimate knowledge. But we get into trouble when we confuse it with truth...Truth is eternal. Knowledge is changeable. It is disastrous to confuse them."

-Bishop Colubra in An Acceptable Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Marshmallow Fluff

That's what my brain's like on the five hours of sleep I got last night. It's also what my house looks like with primer on it, but no base coat yet. Today we had a ton of friends come by to help, and they got all but one side of the house primed. Tomorrow our dads magical housepainting elves will be by. We will leave for work with our house white as the driven snow, but return to it when it is dark grey. Magic!

Everyone who came to help today was so gracious, especially considering that I couldn't do much of the painting myself due to Saturday baby duties. I like to think that the homemade foodstuffs I offered were enough, but in truth I know that everyone worked harder than I did today. Good job, guys. And thanks. I'm lucky to call you friends.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Job Security

Eponine refuses to chop the vegetables--something about lacking opposable thumbs--so I have to do it. Where I got these ungrateful cats, I don't know. Lucy takes her job seriously, though. Her job is to be cute. As the most recent cat hire around here, she's got no seniority, so she really has to work hard. The begging for belly rubs is good, but the sleeping with front legs straight up in the air is genius. She's also done her best to make even our most tacky household items look good. I guess we won't lay her off yet, even in these tough economic times.


reclining in the evening

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Three Things, Because I Don't Have Time for More

1. One of my favorite parts of the day is when I walk in and see Lucy's ears pop up from behind the coffee table like little antennae.

2. Once a girl in my high school speech class who was an amateur palm reader told me that it looked like I would help a lot of children. I don't generally go in for that sort of thing, what with there being faith-related issues and whatnot, but I have never forgotten that, and have instead endeavored to make it true. Some days I think I'm doing a pretty good job of it. Other days I think I could do a lot better.

3. I wish that the Holiday Mint M&M's were still the same size as plain M&M's. I disapprove of their largeness. I will have to switch to mint Hershey's Kisses as my holiday mint chocolate treat this year. What a letdown.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Avoidance

I feel uneasy when my house is disorganized, which it is most of the time lately. With all the hubbub this week it's gotten particularly bad, and all I really want to do today is organize what has gotten out of place this week, plus a few more things, as is my custom. Eventually this whole house will be organized, and then I am thoroughly convinced it will probably be time to move. Still, I try.

Especially I try today because not only do I feel like doing it, but I am also trying to avoid power washing the house. I hate power washing. I'd rather go to the dentist than power wash. Actually, I'd even rather go to the gynecologist than power wash the house, and I think the ladies out there know that this statement alone conveys how utterly awful I consider power washing the house to be. However, people are coming on Saturday to help us paint, and it must be done before then. Also, I sent my husband an e-mail asking if I could get out of it until Friday, and he has not responded. I'd love to assume that this means he is unable to respond at this time, so I can go on avoiding the power washing and embracing my organizational tendencies, but it also might mean that I just need to power wash already. I should have started three hours ago, actually. Okay, maybe four. So out I go to do some of it. I will put my phone in my pocket in case someone calls and needs my help immediately.

Please, someone, anyone, call me away for a really good reason.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Suck at NaBloPoMo This Year

Oh, well. At least you get to see some cute French animals. Tonight's special: Kitty Cat

kitty through the slats

I promise I'll give you something more substantial by the end of the month. No, really, I won't be this busy forever. Probably on, say, the 29th or so, I'll finally get my act together and say something truly thoughtful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

There Went Monday

I meant to get ahead on a couple of things today, or at least catch up.

That didn't really happen.

So...uh...here's a picture of a French rabbit. Please to enjoy.

rabbits enjoy baguette

Sunday, November 16, 2008

From Underneath the Rubble

It's Sunday night, 9pm, and there is a heap of rubble in my living room which appears to have given birth to smaller piles of rubble that are strewn throughout the entire house. The laundry room also seems to have belched out some clean clothes, and there are three baskets waiting for folding in the bedroom. Tools from the kitchen remodel are trying to take over the dining room again. It's pretty much a disaster, but it's fairly hard to tackle since the kitchen remodel process has put various things out of place. I love the way the kitchen is coming together, and I am grateful for everything that got done this weekend, but all this disorder is totally harshing my mellow. Add that to the mellow-harshing effects of wrecking our car while a baby was in the backseat, and you might say that I'm having a hard time maintaining my inner calm.

It will all be better soon, right?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It Hasn't Been a Banner Day, But Then Again...

Right now Jarod and his dad are installing the tile on our kitchen backsplash. The cabinets all have doors. We are getting terribly close to finishing our beautiful, new kitchen. So that's good--very, very good. If it hadn't been for the rest of the day's events, I would probably be jumping for joy. As it is, I really just want to take a very long, hot shower and curl up in my jammies.

This morning on the way to the City Market, I mistook a green light for my actual light, which was red, and pulled out in front of another car. Both cars had to be towed. I had my Saturday baby in the car. It pretty much sucked, and does suck. The baby's parents have been more than gracious and kind about it, but I still feel terrible. I love that baby so very much, and the first thought I had when it happened was, "Oh NO OH NO OH NO THE BABY!" She is fine, as neither car was going very fast. The paramedics called it a minor accident, checked everyone out, and had it declared a non-injury accident. Still. I. Feel. Awful. It has always been my greatest fear that I would have a car accident with children in the car. I suppose that I could count myself fortunate that in all the years I have worked and all the miles I have driven with kids in the car, this is the first time it happened. I was just hoping it never would. That's the worst part of it all, that and the fact that I have caused the other driver a ton of inconvenience. The second worst part is paying the insurance deductible. It's...well...a lot, for us, anyway. We have a savings account for these sorts of situations, but it will need to be replenished as soon as possible, and that's just hard. Sorry in advance about the tiny Christmas gifts, everyone.

To add insult to injury, today we received notice in the mail that we are in violation of a city code due to our very slow exterior power washing and painting progress. We've got thirty days to get it finished or we'll face consequences. The consequences listed were a fine and possible jail time. Yes, jail time. For not having our house painted fast enough. I realize it's a bit of an eyesore at the moment, but seriously...jail time? So guess what we're doing next Saturday? We are having a painting party. I sent out an e-mail asking for help, and I hope our party has lots of guests. If you weren't on that e-mail list and are in the Kansas City area, you are also invited. We'll have snacks! Please come!

Despite the suckage of today, I am grateful for a good many things, so I will list some of those things to add balance to the day. I am grateful:
1. That the baby was not hurt.
2. That everyone was so kind at the accident site. I don't know how many people said "These things happen; I've done it, too," but I am grateful to every single person who said that to me.
3. That my brother and sister-in-law are kindly loaning me their extra vehicle so we do not have to rent a car.
4. That I was not injured in the accident.
5. That our backyard is being cleaned up by someone who is not me, who can trim trees without injuring himself.
6. That we have such good friends.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Wild Friday Night at the McBride Kitty Cat Preserve

I'm no good anymore at making exciting plans for the weekend. So many of my evenings have been taken up by work that on the free ones I really don't want to make an effort to do much of anything besides catch up on the life-as-usual activities I've been missing. For me that's running, so tonight, while everyone else was out painting the town whatever color they desired, I was out panting through the town, putting in seven miles. It was nice, and to be honest, I have been relieved that no one has asked us to do anything in the evening this weekend. I guess I just get lamer and lamer; that will probably never change.

...

Jack turns nine tomorrow. Niiiiiiine. We went to the doctor for his check-up today, and he is now just over five feet tall. Unbelievable. Also: I feel old.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nanny Babble

So it turns out that if you nanny two children full time for four years, leave for fourteen months, then come back again part time, they will forget many of the things you worked so hard to teach them. For example, when I say "You may not play with that," it doesn't mean that when I leave the room, you should start playing with it. It means YOU MAY NOT PLAY WITH THAT. And when I say, "The screeching noise is an outdoor noise, please stop making it indoors," it doesn't mean that you should do it the tiniest bit quieter as if I won't hear you anyway. It means THE SCREECHING NOISE IS AN OUTDOOR NOISE, SO KNOCK IT OFF INDOORS. Tonight I encountered both of those situations, and both children were shocked to receive a consequence for their disobedience. (And yes, I just called it disobedience, even though that seems to be somewhat of a dirty word these days in child-rearing.)

We also have an issue that I consistently forget about, which is the IT'S MIIIIIIINE GIVE IT BAAAAAAACK issue. Around middle elementary age, many children decide that logic dictates that if something belongs to them, it cannot be taken away as a result of poor behavior. Jack just started this, and I firmly believe that the best way to deal with it is to sit down when he's NOT in trouble and explain that regardless of who an object belongs to, it can be taken away, usually temporarily (permanently if the behavior is really awful). It really doesn't work too well to take an object away and try to speak reasonably while the child in question is panicking and trying to take it back. Tonight I had to raise my voice so he could even hear me say that A) it was me who let him have that old flashlight in the first place and that B) if he misbehaves, I get to choose the consequence. I usually choose the traditional "let the punishment fit the crime" method, but if there's no punishment to fit the particular crime, I use an alternate consequence. Taking temporary possession of The Toy of the Moment is effective with Jack, so that's what I do.

I've also had to give early bedtimes tonight. Both kids are headed to bed fifteen minutes early, and I'm hoping that they can behave well from here on out so that that's all it will take. I really hate being The Mean Nanny, but I also firmly believe in being consistent and showing that I mean what I say.

To their credit, I will say that both of them behaved well for much of the afternoon. I offered to let someone vacuum my house, and Jack took me up on it (I am fully taking advantage of this stage, the Pre-I-Hate-Any-Chore Phase). Both kids busied themselves in my basement while I moved things around in preparation for making a kid area down there for them to play in when they come over. Of course it helped that the goal is something that benefits them, and also that there are all sorts of "treasures" that I no longer want lurking in various boxes and corners. Jack got the aforementioned old, crusty flashlight, and Mary Liz ended up with an old Christmas ornament. I'm sure their mom will be so excited that I let them bring more junk home, but trust me when I say it could have been much worse. I did, after all, make them throw away the dirty post-its and broken Father Time knick knack.

The kids have all day off tomorrow, and I'm hoping that it goes as smoothly as the first part of our afternoon. We can always have By Myself In My Own Room Time, but honestly, I prefer it when we all get to have a good time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When You've Nothing to Say, Just Post Photos

I got through most of the wedding photos from the weekend, and of course I have favorites. This wedding was wonderful, and I don't just say that because they stuffed me full of delicious food. It's not every day you get to see two of the kindest people you know marry each other.















What beautiful friends! What a beautiful day! Congratulations, dear ones.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seasoning

I have always loved autumn. Having been born with an aversion to the heat, the end of summer can never come fast enough for me. But autumn is more than relief from my heat-related suffering: it is a new beginning. The leaves blaze their glorious colors, and there is promise in the brisk air. Thanksgiving is coming, and then Christmas. There's often a stew or chili on the stove, and it is no longer uncomfortable to bake. And then there's my favorite part of all: the napping. A summer nap is good, and a winter nap is cozy, but in autumn you can get comfy beneath covers (impossible in summer), yet still feel like getting out from under them eventually (unlike in winter, when I could very well stay ensconced in down and kitty cats for the duration of the season). I nap nearly every day if I can manage it, and these autumn naps have been particularly delicious. I hope winter doesn't come too soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Generosity

For my whole life I have wanted to be less selfish and more generous, to hold on less tightly to the things that are given to me. Turns out it just takes practice and time, plus opportunity. We are in a position to be able to give to a whole lot of people in a whole lot of different ways right now, and I must say that what it feels like is that this is what we were made to do. To open our hearts and our wallets and our time banks. There are limits, of course; we can only give what we have. But as we keep on giving, I find that our hearts and wallets and time banks are filled so that we can give even more. Life is good.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Preference, Peeves, Etc. (Flight Edition)

I have decided that 11am flights are just about perfect. You can sleep until a reasonable hour and, even if you have a layover, generally you'll make it into your city of choice in time to grab dinner and, if you're me, go running. This is just for domestic flights, of course--for the international variety I believe 6pm is the best time for takeoff.

There are a good many people bringing large carryons these days, thanks to most airlines charging for checking bags. We cannot do this, thanks to my acne care-related products all being just slightly too big, but in truth I'm kind of glad. Wedging a suitcase into the overhead bin does not look like a good time to me. I'll just tuck my backpack and tote bag neatly under my seat, thanks.

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the lack of respect for personal space on the plane? On our first flight out, the woman next to me kept elbowing me inadvertently, then getting up several times and flinging her seat belt in my direction as opposed to just slipping it off. Flair for the dramatic, perhaps? On the second flight, the man next to me left his elbow in my seat space the entire flight. I realize the seats are small, but they are small for all of us, so guess what? If you don't have enough room and overflow into someone else's space, then you are making their already small space even smaller. I think that common courtesy should become part of the safety instructions at the beginning of the flight.

If you hadn't guessed yet, we are home. I have a ton of photos from the wedding, none of which are on this computer yet, so you'll have to be patient and just trust me when I say it was wonderful. I promise I'll have more to share soon.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Those of you keeping track at home may have noticed that yesterday's post did not actually appear yesterday. Since this is NaBloPoMo month, I feel the need to clarify that it was written yesterday, but the internet connection we had last night did not allow me to post it. However, I offer no complaint on this account, as we are staying with people who not only let us stay here for free, but also give me a delicious latte every morning. It's so good that I don't even need to add sweetener. It's pretty much been awesome, so I hardly care about occasionally not having My Best Friend Internet close at hand.

Too add to the stunning lack of coherent content on this site, I will simply offer now that we had an amazing time at Holly and Jeremy's wedding, that everyone here seems to be a cat person (AWESOME), that we ate enough to keep us full until next Tuesday, and that we are incredibly happy to be here for the festivities. We are also incredibly happy to see the pillows that are waiting for us at the head of the bed. I promise to give you more text and photos once we return to our Midwestern homeland.

Until tomorrow, internet...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dilemma

It's too bad that we have to get up in the morning because the TLC show lineup is pretty much awesome. So the question is: Should I get plenty of rest or watch multiple episodes of What Not to Wear?

I suppose for the sake of Holly and Jeremy's wedding, as well as the photos I'll be taking for them, I'll choose the rest option. I'm such a lame-o dedicated, loving friend.

(Back soon with more substantial posts when we're not too busy mooching food off others...)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Best Way to Start Your Day

a little pre-flight nappage

By napping, of course. You've got to save up energy for all that sitting you'll do on the plane.

We are in Northern California for my dear friend Holly's wedding this weekend. I have known Holly since high school, and I cannot express what a privilege it is to have known someone who is truly wonderful and kind for so long. Her husband-to-be is of extraordinarily high quality as well, and together they will conquer the world with intelligence and humor and goodheartedness. I am thrilled to be here for their special day.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Day After

It's the day after the election. When we're not weeping with joy and being all touched by the possibilities the future holds, whatever shall we do?

Oh! I know!

sorry, lucy.

Lucy really wishes there'd at least been a recount of some sort.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Today

There is hope.

coffee, clipboard, name tag

And also free coffee and t-shirts. I suppose time may prove me wrong, but for this time in my life I have worked for something I believe in, that I believe is for the greater good. I have worked not just for a candidate, though I believe in his vision for our future, but I have worked for us. The intentions of my heart are for good for all of us. And I still tear up a little when I listen to this song:



No matter how we voted today or how much we have disagreed with each other, we can heal our divisions. We can be better people. We can swallow our pride and love one another better. We need each other. No matter what, let's be better. It isn't wrong to want change. It isn't wrong to want things to be better. It isn't wrong to put down our accusations and work together.

Happy Election Day, America.

Kitties for Obama

OBAMA FTW!!!!

OBAMA FTW!!!

OBAMA!!!!

I'm Lucy Snowe, and I approve this message.

Monday, November 03, 2008

One More Day, Thank Heaven

I have been simply aghast at how many people, some of whom I love and respect, have implied that those of us who are voting for Obama are not Christians. It is even more dismaying to read damning statements towards us, our nation, and our world. I have come up with a thousand arguments in my head, have gone through all the stages of grief (for to have someone relegate me to among the worst of the worst feels like both a betrayal and a loss), but in the end I have felt compelled to remain silent. To argue would only create more division.

As a Christian, I do hope that how I vote honors both God and others. I understand that I am an imperfect human, and that thus my choices are also imperfect. But there's this thing called grace that covers over a multitude of sins, that God extends to us and that we in turn are called to extend to one another. It is not hard to forgive those who speak ill of me; it is hard, however, to quiet my own pride and let time be the judge.

Whoever is elected tomorrow, I hope and pray for the best for all of us. Let us not forget that God is love, that he desires unity over division, and that he authors the triumph of grace over evil.

Amen.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Short, Sweet, and Without a Point

Sometimes I really hate working. It's not the job--I love what I do--it's just the time it steals from all the things I need to get done at home. Jarod and I have a system worked out wherein I work less outside the house and do more here, while he works full time and does less at home. This works out fairly well for us except when I end up working full time hours, as the laundry does not start to clean itself, nor do the groceries show up automatically, and the cats have long refused to clean the bathroom or do the dishes. Meals don't cook themselves either, and while I believe I have established here in the past that I could live on snacks alone, it doesn't cut it for Jarod.

Frozen pizza, however, does. So do waffles.

Thanks, freezer aisle.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Double Chins Run in the Family

First of all: DUUUUUUUDE, how did it get to be November? I feel like I skipped a month.

Second, my cat and I both wore something special for Halloween, and I'm not just talking about our double chins.

sporting our halloween attire and our double chins

I don't know if you can tell or not, but that Hello Kitty pumpkin head is coated in a thick layer of glitter, so thick that I am now finding it everywhere--in my hair, in my bed, on the bathroom sink, etc.

Third, this is the lamest first day of NaBloPoMo post ever. Check in every day throughout the month of November for more nonsense and probably more cat pictures.