Cheers and Boos

February 3, 2011

A random assortment of observations and reflections, most of them incredibly profound, about my new surroundings.

Yay! for Austin:

  • Targets. Lots and lots of Targets, just waiting for me to stop and shop and drag my tyrannical herd through the aisles.
  • Central time zone allows me to watch prime time television and late news broadcasts and still get to bed before 11.
  • HEB has a really nice selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • I rather enjoy walking A to and from school, except on exceptionally cold days like today. And the exercise is probably good for me.
  • I get SO MANY channels on cable. It’s crazy. I’ll never watch them all, or even want to watch a lot of them, but the excessive options are there, just in case.
  • A’s new school really impresses me. Her teacher’s great, and I feel like she’s in a great situation academically. Plus she’s making friends!
  • S has a friend across the street who’s his age, and they get along very well.

No, thank you:

  • The water tastes funny. I liked the (non) taste of the water and was good about drinking a lot and staying hydrated until we moved here. Now it tastes icky. So I’ve been making lemonade and tea and such, to mask the flavor, because I need to drink a lot to avoid any more kidney stones.
  • Cedar fever sucks. Both boys, Hubs, and I have all dealt with it. A, not so much. My sinuses haven’t given me this much trouble in several years, since I had sinus surgery.
  • There are some really bad drivers on the roads here. Back in Georgia, I encountered a lot of dumb drivers, but they were largely harmless. I didn’t understand why they did certain things, and sometimes they annoyed me, but I didn’t feel endangered in the way I sometimes do here. I’ve seen too many dangerous dumb drivers already – particularly those texting and/or talking on the phone and still driving, without looking in front of their car. The ones in Georgia doing this would usually wait for a red light, and then maybe sit there too long after it changed to green. Here, they pull out without looking, and when I honk because they almost hit the side of my car, they give me the bird as though I had done something wrong.
  • So much of the stuff I want/need is still packed in boxes in my garage because I’m waiting on someone to do certain things around the house before I can proceed. And the waiting is making me very, very testy.
  • I really miss my family back in Georgia. ¬†ūüė¶

Dear Lord, I need a break.

November 27, 2010

This holiday weekend is rapidly driving me insane. A and S are constantly picking at each other, sniping, whining, wailing, and coming to me to complain about each other. I knew things were off to a bad start when I spent most of Tuesday night in the emergency room.

Tuesday morning, I called A to the table to eat breakfast. She stumbled out of bed, barely awake, and came to the table, where she sat in some sort of contorted, unstable position on her chair. I told her to sit up straight, but she didn’t move. She was wearing an oversized t-shirt and had her arms inside it because she was cold. She maintained this position even after I placed a plate of food in front of her and told her to take her arms out and eat. And then, as I worked in the kitchen, she toppled from her chair and landed on her side, on the tile floor, with a horrifyingly loud sound.

Immediately she wailed. I picked her up and held her, while her busted lip and bitten inner cheek bled out on her shirt and mine. I could see the beginnings of a horrid bruise forming on the side of her face, from her forehead down her cheek. Once she stopped crying, I gave her an ice pack and put her back to bed to rest. She missed the bus, and I thought she might need to stay home for the day, maybe go to the doctor. But she insisted that she felt better, so I took her to school, an hour late.

Apparently she had a headache much of the day at school. She didn’t mention this to anyone (even though her teacher knew what had happened that morning) until she got home. She seemed tired, so I gave her some Tylenol and told her to take a nap that afternoon, but she kept waking up and complaining about her head hurting. I called her pediatrician’s office, and they said to see if the headache went away within an hour of taking the medicine. If not, I should take her to the emergency room. After an hour, she woke up screaming and wailing about her head and neck hurting, so I loaded up the kids and went to the ER. My mom met us there and took S home with her, leaving A, baby D, and me at the packed ER, waiting to be seen.

After three hours, a doctor finally examined her. By then, A announced that her headache was mostly gone, and that she felt a lot better. The doctor said she didn’t need a cat scan, since that would mean a lot of radiation exposure and since A never lost consciousness or threw up. So we were sent on our way, with instructions to watch A for anything troubling.

By this time, it was nearly 10 pm. A hadn’t eaten dinner (nor had I), and she requested Steak ‘n’ Shake, so I went to the drive thru. As I got the food, she complained that her neck hurt. I looked at her, and then, as we pulled away from the window, she barfed. On my coat, sort-of fortunately. Have I mentioned that I had a wreck a couple of weeks ago, so we have a rental car? I got her out of the car to barf more on the lovely grassy area beside the drive thru lane. She finally said she felt better, and mentioned that the kid who sat next to her at school today had barfed. Lovely.

Not knowing whether to attribute the barf to germs or head injury, I took A and her baby brother home. S spent the night with my parents (prompting some jealousy from A, who insisted that she felt much, much better after throwing up). I put her to bed and stuck her untouched food in the fridge (said food would later become fodder for one of many fights between A and S). I checked on her regularly through the night, and she seems fine now.

The next morning, my dad came to get A and take her to join S. The two of them spent the day and night with my parents, while baby D rolled on the floor and I worked like a dog (not my dogs, mind you – they’re all lazy bums). The woman who cleans my mom’s house occasionally came by and helped me with packing and cleaning. We made so much progress, and she is such a lifesaver. I can’t do this packing alone – I’ve been trying for weeks with almost nothing to show for it. She’ll be back next week on two days.

That night was amazing. I was exhausted, went to bed early, and slept in the next morning. I think it still counts if one gets up around 5:30 to feed a baby and then goes back to sleep for a few more hours. The key thing, for me, was a respite from the wake-up committee (climbing onto the bed, getting in my face with their hot morning breath, saying “wake up, mama” over and over and over).

I tried watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade that morning – I haven’t watched it since I was a kid (Hubs can’t stand the parade coverage, largely due to the chipper commentary), and I used to love the floats and the balloons – but I gave up fairly quickly. Dance numbers and interviews with actors pimping the network’s shows are not a parade. That disappoints me.

Thanksgiving Day at my grandmother’s house was delightful. The only thing missing was Hubs – his absence felt like an ache all day long, but I enjoyed the time with aunts, uncles, and my cousin. A and S had a fantastic time with my cousin, and baby D loved being the center of attention. He’s a great sport at family gatherings, smiling and laughing and doing adorable baby things. All three kids crashed on the way home, and the older two slept from late afternoon straight through until morning.

Early morning, that is. S woke me up at 4 am to tell me he was hungry. He wanted macaroni and cheese, and I wanted to go back to sleep. We compromised, and I heated up the aforementioned Steak ‘n’ Shake kids meal. I parked him in front of the tv, watching kid shows on Disney, and he scarfed down the food. I headed back to bed.

5:30 am ¬†“MAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHMMM! S is eating my chicken fingers!” Much drama ensued. I was up for good. The day, in summary:

Needy baby D wants to be held at all times. A screams at S. S screams at A. He did it! She did it! Make him stop! Make her stop! MAAAAAAAAHHHHMMMM! Whining. Wailing. Sneaky, naughty behavior. Contraband food discovered in A’s room after explicit warnings, less than one hour before, not to go there. A scolded and sent to room. Am I gonna have to stay here forEVer? More whining. Wailing. Full-blown tantrum: kicking feet on walls, screaming, lots of it’s not fairs. ¬†A busted trying to sneak out of room/time out to get toys. Toys confiscated. More tantrum. Plans to go to grocery store, to get some food for the mostly-bare kitchen, scrapped. Pizza ordered. Pizza arrives. A and S pick off cheese, toppings, leaving crust and sauce, and have nerve to ask for dessert. Denied. Requests for indoor camp-out. Denied. Children to bed. Baby D resists. Late night.

And then, this morning, another disgustingly early wake-up call. A wants pancakes. No can do – don’t have all necessary ingredients. I make muffins (Cinnabon style, from a mix). Food snobs strike again: What are these? I don’t like these. These look funny. I don’t want to touch these. I’m so full, I can’t eat any more (after a single bite). And now? I’m taking these ingrates to the country. I hope the fresh air, sunshine, and exercise will exhaust them, so maybe I can get a nap this afternoon.

At least tuning them out to write this post has been a break, of sorts. At least getting it out of my system helped a little. But I could use one of those nice, quiet afternoons where I can get a bit of uninterrupted sleep.

Paradigm Shift

September 15, 2010

I am a solo parent. ¬†For the next three months, I am the R.P. for these three small people, plus three dogs and our house full of junk. ¬†It’s only two days in – Hubs left on Monday – and I’m already losing it.

S noticed that I was a little… frazzled, let’s say… in the parking lot at Wallyworld today. ¬†There are so many things to do, and today I pushed myself too hard. ¬†I didn’t allow sufficient downtime, so after a morning roving through the mall with baby D (yes, the sketchy dirt mall, but I did find him a cute Halloween costume and some shoes for A) and a headache-inducing romp through the aforementioned discount superstore with baby D and S, I was on the verge of tears as I hefted a 40 lb bag of dog food into the back of my van.

Have I mentioned before how I don’t like to do certain tasks and chores, how I always imposed on my dear husband in the past to do these things? ¬†And now, since he’s 1000 miles away, I have to do these dreaded tasks myself? ¬†Buying giant bags of dog food for the furry bottomless pits is one of those things. ¬†I don’t like toting big bags of dog food, and yet ¬†I insist that we buy said product in huge bags because it’s more cost effective and means fewer trips to the store. ¬†Another dreaded task? ¬†Rolling the trash can to the street. ¬†Which I must remember to do this evening, too.

So, I was hefting this big bag of dog food into my van, tears welling up in my eyes (not because I threw out my back, which could have happened – just because I was so tired and kind of hungry and really stressed and kind of fed up with the constant chatter from S), when a Very Nice Woman walked by. ¬†She offered to take my cart to the corral. ¬†I managed to say, “Yes, thanks!” but what I really wanted to say was “OMG you’re an adult and you’re being nice to me and I was about to cry because I’m ¬†so tired and kind of hungry and I’ve been cranky since this morning because the power went out while I was getting ready and made things so annoying and difficult and don’t think I’m crazy but I could just hug you for doing something nice to me even though you don’t know me and you just saved me from yelling BE QUIET to my motormouth son and looking like THAT PARENT in the parking lot at Wallyworld and oh thank you so much you’re amazingly kind and wonderful and have¬†impeccable¬†timing!”

So my sanity was saved, for now. ¬†I still had oodles of errands to run today, such that I’m only sitting now, after 7 pm, for the first time since early this morning. ¬†I’ve attempted to explain comets, telescopes, Pluto’s uncertain status as a planet, assorted physics concepts, the psychological motivations of mean girls, the benefits ¬†of attending school rather than playing farm all day, the flexibility boys enjoy but girls lack in non-traditional urination locations, the funny feeling in your stomach when the van goes over a little rise in the road, a few etiquette issues, the importance of listening to your mother (doubt they listened to that one well), the rationale for excluding some personal items from sharing with your friends, methods of germ transmission, the concept of shyness and the difficulty some face in overcoming it, our family’s rationale for not allowing toy guns, the ways in which one person’s hobbies and interests may differ from another person’s hobbies and interests and how one must accept such differences and not force one’s interests on others who do not share them, the importance of allowing sleeping babies to sleep uninterrupted (even if they are really cute and you just want to play with them or say hi or show them the picture you colored).

I also faced some of the first questions and anxieties about moving, nervousness about liking Texas, finding friends, liking a new teacher and school, missing friends/family/activities/everything they know and love about this town. ¬†I know there will be more. ¬†I didn’t know what to say to A’s tears, but fortunately the “I don’t want to leave here! ¬†I don’t want to go to Texas!” storm was brief. ¬†I need to get on the stick and figure out some better strategies for that issue.

Oh, and my landlord’s wife called to see if she could bring a realtor by the house in the morning. ¬†Yeah. ¬†This place is a wreck and I lack the energy and will to do much about it. ¬†She said they would just check out the outside, so I’m going to trust and pray that they will stay outside, because I don’t want anyone to see the inside just now. ¬†Still in much of its post-Hubs-departure chaos: the stacks of laundry in the den are clean, but the piles of boxes and bins are rather haphazard throughout.

Deep breath. ¬†Time to read the bedtime story. ¬†Time to put myself to bed as soon as I get the minions tucked in. ¬†I don’t even want to think about tomorrow just yet.

The glasses conundrum

August 8, 2010

Groucho Marx GlassesLast week I visited my eye care professional for my annual eye exam, and I also browsed through the frames seeking a new pair. ¬†I’ve had the current glasses for 2-3 years, and I need to replace them, urgently. ¬†While I was in the hospital, only hours after delivering baby D, I wiped off my glasses with a soft cloth and the coating on the lenses began peeling off, mostly on the right lens. ¬†Lovely.

So for the last three months, I’ve been able to see, but not as clearly as I would like. ¬†It’s like the vaguely fuzzy, blurry sensation when the glasses really need to be cleaned, only I can’t resolve it with lens wipes. ¬†Then, to make my life even more delightful, I got a crusty, itchy rash on the right side of my face, immediately under the right temple of my glasses. ¬†Great. ¬†That is SO attractive, particularly in combination with my current postpartum-hormone-crazed, teenage-wannabe acne.

See, I have this longstanding nickel allergy. ¬†I’ve always had it. ¬†My body is a physical expression of the “champagne tastes, beer budget” problem when it comes to jewelry. ¬†I’ve never been able to wear cute, cheap jewelry. ¬†Cute earrings from a craft show or Etsy? ¬†Nope. ¬†Nickel is used as part of the alloy in all kinds of jewelry fittings, and even in glasses frames. ¬†I get this oozy, crusty rash, which is not only super-sexy but also itches horribly, even when I think I’m wearing “safe” items.

The current glasses frames? ¬†Sold as titanium, so they shouldn’t be a problem. ¬†But after three years, it has become apparent that they are merely titanium plated, with a nickel-containing alloy metal underneath. ¬†And the titanium is wearing thin, so I’ve resorted to adding some even more attractive features to these ailing spectacles. ¬†In the past, I’ve tried painting clear fingernail polish over offending metal items, but that never seems to work well – I still experience the metal exposure symptoms. ¬†So my glasses now feature a nice piece of clear packing tape, carefully wrapped around the temple. ¬†It’s somewhat unobtrusive, unless someone looks closely, and if I wear my hair down, it’s not easy to see it, even. ¬†Yeah, really! ¬†I swear! ¬†Klassy.

So now I’m faced with the need to get a new pair of glasses, ideally nickel free, but at least titanium again. ¬†And I’ll get the super glare-reduction coating for them (the “glasses guy” at my eye doctor’s office says the peeling must be from a botched application process when the lenses were made, because they shouldn’t peel like that, ever), because I spend way too much time on the Interwebz and must protect my eyes.

On the broader issue of nickel allergies, I’m thrilled to see that more inexpensive jewelry manufacturers are now offering nickel free items. ¬†It’s nice to pay $20 for a cute pair of earrings and know that they won’t make my ears rot. ¬†Some experts suggest stainless steel earrings to avoid the nickel reaction, but I’ve had the issue even with those. ¬†I think they sometimes have nickel in the solder used to attach the posts, even if the posts themselves don’t contain nickel.

When I first noticed the glasses-related rash appearing, I was reading about the topic on WebMD and was interested to see the suggestion that people who are extremely sensitive to nickel should avoid foods that have high levels of nickel: I’m okay with not eating fish, but chocolate?! ¬†Thank goodness my reaction isn’t that bad.

The rash is a major pain, however, and it takes a long time for my skin to dry up, heal, and stop itching.  I have trouble with the itch.  I scratch it in my sleep, even if I manage to restrain myself during the day.  Ick.  My solution to that problem is wearing cotton gloves to bed, thus making myself even more attractive.  No wonder Hubs loves me so much.  I should add in some curlers and a slime green facial mask to perfect the look.

Dear Men’s Underwear Manufacturers,

August 3, 2010

Please reconsider your decision to include red underwear in the dark color variety pack.  Red underwear (even from your fine company, Fruit of the Loom) bleeds onto non-red items in the wash.  It just does, until it has been washed a few times to get out the residual dye.  This presents several frustrations for me, your customer and the designated laundry fairy* of this household:

  • Red loads are less frequently washed than loads of white or dark clothing. ¬†I purchase multiple pairs of underwear for Hubs so that I don’t end up washing all the time. ¬†I may be the laundry fairy, but I like to have a life. ¬†Pairs of red underwear, however, get excluded from the regular washing rotation, thus reducing the number of clean pairs in circulation.
  • If you were thinking that the red underwear would draw in a certain type of customer, well, men interested in looking sexy and manly don’t typically purchase large multi-packs of boxer briefs from discount retailers. ¬†Or rather, have their wives purchase said multi-packs for them. ¬†Just sayin’.
  • Do men really need red underwear? ¬†Women sometimes need particular colors or styles because of the outfit they’ll be wearing on top of the underwear but men? ¬†Not usually worried about that (at least the multi-pack set aren’t). ¬†Hubs doesn’t really care what color it is, as long as it’s clean and fits.
  • If you’re really worried about alienating customers who want your underwear in red or burgundy shades, perhaps you could consider selling those colors separately? ¬†Or at least not including red shades in every multi-pack? ¬†‘Cause I looked, and every package at Wallyworld had red in it. ¬†Unless I had wanted to buy white (ummm, no).

So that now I, humble laundry fairy and not-so-well-known blogger, have shown you the error of your ways, it’s up to you, Men’s Underwear Manufacturers, to fix this. ¬†And while I have your attention? ¬†I love those printed-on-fabric labels, instead of the separate white tags, on your products. ¬†Good call on those. ¬†Now get to work on this pressing red¬†underwear issue, ‘kay?

*Laundry fairy: individual who collects Hubs’ scattered dirty clothes, which frequently don’t make it to the hamper, and then washes them and returns them to his drawers and closet, so that they are magically available to him whenever he needs them.