Saturday, December 29, 2007

I Guess Even Scout Gets Embarrassed

I hope this isn't just plain mean, but I really did want to use Scout as our moving announcement.

He was mortified.

I think Sydney is trying not to laugh at him.

I think he might want to bite me.

Yeah, well, you want respect, Scout? Get some bladder control. I'M not the one embarrassing you. (Well, um, usually.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Letter

Okay, so here's my first draft of the letter that will accompany my still-unsent Christmas cards. (Well, you know, with some editing.)

Dear... You,

I've never written a Christmas Letter before but this year feels like a special year –and one which flew by so quickly that we feel we haven't been in touch with you, our dear friends and family, as much as we'd like. (Because, of course, we haven't. It's hard to fit socializing in with all the therapy we've been needing.) Still, it's a lot of pressure coming up with a letter that encompasses our year without putting everyone to sleep OR making you wildly nauseous at our accomplishments. (Assuming I could think of any accomplishments and not resort to lying exaggerating.)

Jane graduated from Kindergarten and started first grade but she got to keep her beloved teacher, Ms. Walks On Water, who moved up with her. This was a big bonus for us because Ms. WOW, ahem, GETS Jane. She has just the right amount of structure and silliness for the Hurricane. Jane was invited to participate on a gymnastics team, played soccer with her dad as coach (until she fired him), and reluctantly began taking piano lessons, which she WILL take as long as I say so, becauseI'mtheMommythat'swhy. So far, we've only had one trip to the ER with Jane this year.

Ana finished third grade and moved on to fourth. She started taking piano lessons in June and has made remarkable progress —get this, we LOVE to hear her practice! She also discovered Tae Kwan Do and has been taking classes twice a week with one of her best friends. She took up knitting and sewing and whistling incessantly. She apparently exists by eating only bread and a daily multi-vitamin, when I remember to give it to her. Her name still really is spelled with only one "n," which seems to confuse everyone (even some people who really should know better, not that I'm bitter), but she forgives me for naming her something spelled like that. At least, she says she does.

I found out, after 42 years of getting around more or less fine, that my feet were full of deformed bones that should never have been walked on. In March, I had reconstructive surgery which installed three Phillips head screws into my foot. The bad news is that I still haven't fully recovered and I won't get to be a runner anymore. The good news is that if anyone needs a deck screw on short notice, I'm your main woman. Also, I'm now having a series of steroid shots which will keep me out of the Tour de France but shouldn't affect my baseball career one bit. On the work front, I resigned from my position as Editor of Austin Family Magazine in May after discovering that I'm not really programmed to work "part-time." In fact, the very concept escapes me. So, now I'm blogging with a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm at and my children are still totally neglected.

Coop managed to con Santa into bringing him a plasma television set last Christmas, which led to us (me) buying all new living room furniture just in time to watch the Tour de France in high definition. He trained for the Memorial Day triathlon, as is his tradition, but a weird rainy season forced the cancellation of the event this year so he got to enjoy our annual post-race party for once. Additionally, ten years after he and five other people co-founded [IT Consulting Firm which shall remain nameless], Coop has resigned to accept a position as the CIO of a new company named [National Company which shall also remain nameless.] (CIO stands for Chief Information Officer, and not Chief Intelligence Officer, as I mistakenly told people for a while there. He does not actually work for the CIA.) The new job means that the Coopers will be relocating to Long Island, New York after the first of the year.

I probably should have started this letter with THAT news, huh? But it’s true, the Coopers –two native Texans and two of us who got here as soon as we could-- are packing up the minivan and moving to the Northeast where people will fall out of their chairs laughing every time we say “y’all” or “fixin’ to.” That is if they are speaking to us after we introduce them to Scout. At any rate, after March 1, 2008, our address will be:

[deleted just in case somewhere there is a stalker out there who is trying to find my children and will force me to prove that you can take the girl out of Texas but I really am prepared to disembowel him/her without breaking a sweat no matter where we live. Be forewarned.]

We hope you’ll come visit us in our new digs, and that the New Year brings peace and prosperity to all! [except aforementioned stalker who should just rethink stalking me or MY family because I'm under a lot of stress AND I'm dieting and I can pull certain parts of your anatomay out through your nostrils if you make me mad.]

Much love,
Barb and Co.

I Blame HER

These are my paternal grandparents. I love this picture because there are exactly three pictures of my grandparents together and what? She couldn't take the apron off, not even for a minute? Anyway, as I was lying in bed last night counting calories to fall asleep, I suddenly remembered this picture. And I got a little frightened over what might be if I don't get on the Weight Watchers Train right now.

Freaking fat genes.

Plus, that expression on her face? Exactly how I feel.

(Okay, just in case you are worried that this is turning into a weight-loss blog, I'd like to reassure you. It's just that while I'm dieting, that's ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT --at least for the first week. So, soon, I'll returning to blogging about... well, whatever it is that I blog about. Life? Knitting? Submissive Urination in Dogs?)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Math Problem

A bottle of wine has 500 calories in it.

How much laundry do you have to do to work that off?

How much laundry will work off seventeen bottles?

My MIL went home today. My FIL comes tomorrow. I've done roughly six MILLION loads of laundry today, that's why I'm asking. Well, that, PLUS, I started Weight Watchers today. Because while I've been lamenting with great drama the fact that I keep gaining and losing the same two pounds, my friend Kathy just very unceremoniously started plugging away at Weight Watchers and managed to lose 16 pounds before Christmas.

I hate dieting but I just can't pretend that I haven't gained all this weight anymore. My husband was dumping video to DVD today and dudes, there I was, in all my ever thickening glory. Clearly, something must be done. So I'm coming out to you people. I joined Weight Watchers. I want to kick innocent but svelte people! Please save me from social ostracism by encouraging me to stick to the plan and lose this weight as soon as possible!

I know you're wondering why I'm starting WW now and not, say, after the holidays and my anniversary and my birthday and Ana's birthday and Mother's Day and the 4th of July but well, the truth is that I can't take another day of not feeling at home in my skin. And those pictures sort of showed the truth--I had already gained some weight even before my foot surgery. So, okay, then, if I'm unhappy about being large, then it's up to me to take action. Because as it turns out, this sitting around waiting for some miraculous skinny pill? It's not so effective.

So, y'all hold me accountable, okay? (Especially those of you who live outside of kicking range.) Look, here's my pathetic little after dinner treat which I am not throwing away until I have gnawed every last bit of apple-y flesh off it.

Freaking fat genes.

In other news, guess what? I met hokgardner and her MOTHER at Whole Foods today for coffee. (Just a little bit of fat-free milk in mine, thanks. Oh, I'm so sorry, did I kick you?) I don't want to brag but her mother reads my work, too. (I keep wanting to ask people, "are you SURE you want to read this? Because if you don't, I'll get over. No, really. Maybe I'll get over it. Okay, okay, there's a CHANCE I'll get over it. A very slim chance but still.) anyway, we had a delightful time but I will confess to you all that I was the only one who brought her knitting. These are Jane's new socks. Lorna's Laces (some sort of pink flavor now forgotten), 56 stitches, my same old Bamboo pattern.

I am such a geek.

In still other news, my Christmas cards finally came today.

I hate them. So, it's a really good thing that I probably won't get them in the mail before February anyway, don't you think? Actually, I was thinking about writing a Christmas letter to let people know of all the changes in our world this year.

Years ago, I was going to write a spoof on a Christmas letter and I bought THIS book.

Never used it. Never read it. Scoffed at people who MIGHT read it.

Why is it that I ALWAYS get my comeuppance? Why?

Stupid freaking fat genes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How Blessed We Are

I am feeling an enormous amount of gratitude right now for this incredible life I'm able to lead. I feel guilty about my blessings much of the time --because it does seem that I have been blessed beyond anything that I deserve.

We've had a wonderful day.

First things first: I never was able to get that tiny strand of Christmas lights blinking. The whole tree blunk (okay, okay, will blink) except for that one strand. It's the Navajo Quilt Strand.

The girls woke up early (but not at dark thirty--it was just before 7:00 when they started tearing around.) They came downstairs and SANTA HAD BEEN TO OUR HOUSE!
There was a lot of shrieking.

We all opened our stockings--Santa had brought me some organic body and hand lotion which has no alcohol in it (check the label on your lotion). I said, "Oh, wow, look at this lotion!" and Jane looked at me and said, with just a shade of doubt, "You like that?"

My mom and I lost it. It became THE saying of the day.

Then Scout got the paper. Well, part of it. Hm.

So then we had breakfast
and went back to open the wrapped Christmas presents under the tree.

The pets were VERY happy. And every time I looked around, there was my ancient dog Sydney, trying to figure out where she could go with her Christmas bone and be safe.

My dad liked his socks. (Isn't he a good sport for standing in first position for the blog?)

(Had to take a break right here to go watch "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" with my family.)

Coop got the biggest present under the tree--a new grill! He SAYS he had no idea what it was and it was both a surprise and exactly the right thing. Given my history of gift-giving to my husband, all I can say is "SCORE!"

But as it turns out, Coop outdid me again. Because I got the SMALLEST present under the tree.

See, when Coop and I got married, exactly one hundred years ago on January 3rd, we both chose very simple gold bands.
He was starting a new company and I was going to leave my job to stay home with our kids. Having a precious gem on my finger didn't seem very important to me. Look at these hands--they are not the hands of a woman who can wear too much jewelry, you know? There's that index finger that I broke in two places when I slammed it in the car door. This is the hand that was on the cover of my book, "The Mermaid's Purse." This is the hand that has been painting and cleaning and stringing blinking Christmas lights (well, most of them are blinking.) (Not that I'm bitter.) (Or obsessing.) --this hand is not the hand of a woman who cares very much what her hands look like.

Then in 2001, Coop told me that he had put some money into an investment fund with the idea that he would grow it until he had enough money to buy me a nice stone for my ring. Unfortunately, the stock-market cratered and that money was gone. But I was so touched that he had even spared any thought at all to buying me a gem, that it was almost as if he had given it to me. I was touched and I cried and I just loved him so much.

Honestly, I didn't even think I wanted a diamond. But when I opened this box, the whole of the history of our marriage came washing over me --all the effort he has put over the years into buying me a stone for my ring and the fact that he found me EXACTLY the type of stone I like the best (emerald cut) and how after eleven years, he never let go of his goal --and I started to sob. And I looked around and my mother and my mother-in-law were both crying, too! And Coop, my loving, unbelievably amazing husband --well, he had tears in his eyes, too.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

("You LIKE that?")

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This will NOT STAND

All-righty, then.

I am sitting in my living room, in front of a roaring fire and I am staring at my Christmas tree with a loathing I haven't felt since the Reagan administration.

There is one strand of lights--one short section of one strand actually --that will freaking just not blink.

I have confessed before that I just will not be beaten by those stupid red-tipped lights that make the lights blink on my tree. I can crush them like...tiny little light bulbs. And I will --hear me, because OH YES, I WILL.

I don't even actually much care about the lights blinking but since Coop cares, I kind of got on that train and now, oh Manufacturers of Red-Tipped Bulbs That Promote Blinking, I WILL NOT BE DENIED.

Because I am sitting here in my house, which has fourteen upside-down shutters on the front (much to the amusement of my neighbors), in my house where I finally have a functioning dryer, which I got fixed just in time to wash and dry a bunch of towels that had to be used when we discovered that our instant hot water system in the kitchen had rusted through and been dripping for, I don't know, like a year. Judging by the particle board on the floor of the cabinet, which now looks like some sort of science experiment.

We have many house-guests expected tomorrow, my MIL is here even as we speak, I ordered the wrong (incredibly expensive) American Girl Doll for Jane, I have a dog in a bonnet, a cat with a (sorry) anal gland issue, a foot shot full of non-effective steroids,my parents and Santa are coming tomorrow and BY GOD, I WILL have blinking lights on my tree.

I am not asking that much.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Psychotic Break

So, um, the painters returned today. They'd gone missing for ten days, ever since I paid them before they'd completed a job --because sometimes I have moments where I prove that I would have fit right in if we lived in Mayberry. ("Gah-ho-hall-lee!")

They painted the second coat on my front door. It looks lovely.

And then they hung the shutters. Which I might have mentioned, I'd already PAID them to do.

Fourteen shutters.

Look how nice:

Only, don't look too closely because...


they hung every single one of them UPSIDE-DOWN.


See this cute curly thing? It's supposed to go on the top.

So, I noticed they were hanging them upside down and I said, "Um, are they, are they, well, are they upside down? Because they sort of look upside down to me."

And the painter said, "No, that's how shutters GO." very authoritatively.

So, I said, "Well, I haven't actually made a huge study of shutters so maybe you're right."

And then after they'd left, I looked it up on-line.

Every. Single. One.

Upside down.

Naturally, my first response was, "I CAN'T WAIT TO TELL THE BLOG!"

But now I'm mad. I'm mad at them, but even more than that, I'm mad at myself for just accepting that authoritative male opinion over my own instinct. Was I born in the 19th century or something? I thought I wasn't going to model being a doormat for my daughters?

Now that I'm good and mad at everyone involved, I don't think I'd want to be on the other end of the phone call I make telling those...(oooh. Oh, dear. SO censored.) GUYS to come redo their work.

Blinking light update? One strand not blinking. I'm going in for the replacement before it's anti-blink stance affects the other strands.

Today was Pajama Day at the school. I let the girls unwrap their Christmas pajamas. Is it just me or are they amazingly cute? I should take their pictures in front of the new shutters.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

So, the thing is... a Great Grinchly Plot

I sent out a new column to my subscribers today and thought those of you who aren't on THAT list might want to read it. (No pressure just because I'll cry if you don't because all that RHYMING WILL BE FOR NOTHING --but I digress.)

Click here to read my scintillating and paranoid column, So, the thing is... A Great Grinchly Plot.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Very Important Announcement

Just in case you were wondering, my Christmas tree, at this very moment, is 100% blinking. All the strands of lights --every single one--blinking like mad.

This was achieved at great personal cost to my fingernails and not without some serious swearing.

My feelings of victory are indescribable.

But I remain vigilant.

And as soon as my husband brings his camera home, I'll take a video and post it. Because I know you will want to live vicariously through my blinks.

Drinks on the house!

Well, What Do You Know?

I finally stopped sulking or waiting for Sears to suddenly remember that they had completely screwed me over after I waited for three weeks for my appointment for them to fix my clothes dryer, which they missed (not that I'm still bitter) and called an appliance repair shop today. Guess what? They're coming out TOMORROW. Apparently, if you want a dryer fixed, you can't just sit around and wait for it to miraculously heal itself. You have to DO something.

This seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life at the moment--I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.

You know how my foot hasn't ever recovered after the whole horrendous reconstructive surgery? I've been kind of going to physical therapy and waiting to be miraculously healed, right? Well, yesterday, I went to the foot doctor and got some potentially good or bad news.

*Disclaimer: although I fancy myself both a good listener and fairly up on medical terms, it's hard to really listen when someone is poking around in your ankle with a needle. So some of this may be just really, really wrong. I apologize to any podiatrists out there reading my blog.*

The doctor said that it was definitely not normal for me to still be in pain and set about diagnosing. After some poking and prodding, he said that he thinks it's one of two things. Either it's what is called a nerve entrapment, where my nerve has somehow adhered to the bone and skin which means pain with every step or it's a bone issue, which probably means another surgery. We went with the "nerve entrapment" theory and he tried anesthetizing the nerve by sticking a big needle in my foot a multitude of times until it hurt and then dousing it with painkiller. Nope, still hurt when I walked. So he did it again, on ANOTHER nerve and then it felt a lot better.

Which led us to believe it's the nerve entrapment thing. The treatment for this is a series of steroid shots which will dissolve the adhesion. He gave me the first one and told me to "go live your life today." He said that he wanted me to really try to stress my foot out and that the best possible outcome would be that there would be no more pain and then I would have a second shot on Friday.

So I went home and hung my Christmas decorations and did some painting and threw the ball for the dogs. And I ordered my Christmas cards online, which requires a lot of stamping of the feet on my part.

Unfortunately, there still IS pain.

But since I have such weird pain reception (he said that walking around with a nerve entrapment must be excruciating. It's not, really, although it is annoying and um, sometimes very painful but mostly it's just twingey.) I can't tell if my foot is just sore from all the shots or if it's still the same sort of pain. If it's the same sort of pain, it means that there is something wrong bone-wise and that I will most likely have to have a second surgery, the thought of which makes me want to fall on the floor and froth at the mouth.

It really does feel easier to walk.

I think.

But there's that pain thing. Which today seems fairly significant. I am so discouraged that I want to cry.

Okay, but on to other subjects because 'tis the season to be all happy and properly medicated and who wants to read about some poor woman who can't even do LAUNDRY, much less walk to the mailbox, not that I'm bitter? Okay, so really, I AM bitter but some of it is no doubt caused by sleep deprivation because last night, Jane got up at 3:00 AM with an urgent matter: Thomas (thebigfatcat) was in her bed. Since he weighs close to half of her body weight, she can't lift him and she is OUTRAGED by that. She came into my room and I let her crawl in bed with me but, let me tell you, boy HOWDY, Jane KICKS. When she finally kicked me so hard that I thought about kicking her back, I sent her back to her room and brought Thomas into MY room. And then Thomas, at 4:15, decided that he really wanted some LOVE and started licking my head, which is just AWFUL at 4:15 in the morning because he has the roughest cat tongue I've ever felt and it makes me laugh. I finally put a pillow over my head and that's when he SAT on me. I might have a bruise.

I DID finish my dad's socks.

Finally. After, what, six years of knitting on them? Okay, I knitted the first one in July and just knitted the second. I had to Kitchener them with THIS:

Because somehow, all of my tapestry needles have disappeared, she says, looking meaningfully at her older daughter. (Well, I would be looking meaningfully at her if she wasn't in school.) But at least I managed to get a LITTLE Christmas knitting done.

And then I cast on some mittens.

Despite the fact that it was 75 degrees here yesterday.

Okay, I'm off to unload the dishwasher and make the beds. Because apparently, nothing's going to get done around here by just waiting for a miracle to happen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Trash Day

I guess I am truly addicted to blogging now. Because I can't sleep and I had to rush right down here to the computer and tell you all about it.

For one thing, I had to take some cough medicine. Sure enough, I have some sort of chest thing developing, which should surprise no one since my husband is leaving town and this weekend, my parents AND my mother-in-law are coming. It would be deeply remiss of me not to send them on their way without first giving them some horrible infectious disease. This happens with such frequency that my parents have taken to calling and asking about our health before they will commit to actually coming. They adore my children but they seem to have tired of these little two-day visits that end up with them fighting death for three weeks. (Selfish of them. Really.)

This coughing/upper respiratory thing is particularly galling considering that ever since this summer when I got walking pneumonia, I've been buying and drinking these Danactive things, which are pretty darn expensive and require, you know, discipline and a short-term memory and all to remember to take. I have been doing this because a doctor at the emergency clinic where I went when I was sure I had contracted leukemia and tuberculosis and probably scarlet fever (or whatever it was that made Beth waste away to nothing in Little Women) told me that he drank one of those Danactive things every day and hadn't had an upper respiratory thing in four years.

Yeah, right.

In other news, Scout had to go in for surgery this past week because he had a growth on his side that needed to be removed. We like to schedule all dog surgeries that cost more than $600 right before Christmas because we're made of money like that.) He's now in a bonnet, and must wear one for ten days.

I don't know if I've mentioned this to you all, but he is not really the SMARTEST dog ever. Let's face it, the only smart thing that dog has ever done is to trick my husband into noticing him and bringing him home. So, now he's in this bonnet and he keeps banging into things. In fact, he's such a freak-show in that thing that he will go into one room in this house and then be afraid he won't be able to get through the door back out so he will sit there and cry until we go and guide him out.

Yesterday, I was making the appointment for him to have his stitches out and talking to the vet about all of this and I mentioned that the SMALLER growth he had taken off (which my husband only noticed in the waiting room as he was waiting to have Scout admitted) is accessible to Scout's hind leg, which means he can scratch it and make the incision bleed. The vet was concerned and suggested I put a child's t-shirt on Scout.

I couldn't help it. I burst out laughing, picturing the poor dog in a bonnet and a nice floral spring print. Maybe we should put him in a I [heart] New York t-shirt, take a picture and use it as our moving announcement.

And in still more news: it has begun. Although our Christmas tree has only up for two days, we have already engaged, it and I, in the open warfare in which we engage EVERY year over whether or not we will have a tree with blinking lights (my desire) or one without (inevitably, the tree's desire.) What is it about those red-tipped bulbs that makes them stop blinking the lights after a while? Already, half of the tree blinks and half does not.

This makes me crazy.

Crazy, I tell you.

Every year.

I should keep some kind of meter on the blog so that people following this epic battle will know what percentage of lights are blinking and what percentage are not. Right now, I'd say it's 50-50. In the morning (read: when it's light outside) I'll go through and replace the red-tipped bulbs and see how much of the tree I can return to blinking status.

Stay tuned. (Right now, my sniffling, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, aching, so I can sleep medicine just kicked in and although I am still coughing, I must grab an orange tabby and go back to bed.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lunch Box Notes

In the mad dash to clean and make my house generic for prospective buyers, I took all of the pictures, etc. off of the refrigerator. I had this handy-dandy caddy with really strong magnets that stuck to the side of the fridge where I kept things like our library cards and eye-glasses repair kits, etc. And when I unpacked the kids' lunchboxes, I would put my joke-of-the-day note in the caddy, if it had made it home.

So, this morning, as I was going through the bags of junk I had hastily stashed away, I found them.

Hundreds and hundreds of really bad jokes, written on whatever pad of paper I had handy at the time. Some are written on the back of the Dog-A-Day-Calendar that my husband used to give me every year for Christmas. I found a couple of ones that I'd written twice. I found the ones that made us laugh the hardest:

What color is a hiccup? Burple!

What's in the middle of a jelly-fish? A JELLY-button!

What happens when it rains cats and dog? You step in a POODLE!

What kind of a car does Luke Skywalker drive? A Toy-yoda!

What do you call tired popcorn? Pooped-corn!

I used to try to tie them to whatever Ana or Jane was studying in school at that moment:

What is a Marsupial's favorite drink? Koko-Koala!

What kinds of songs do planets sing? Nep-tunes!

Where was the Declaration of Independence signed? At the bottom!

I made them seasonal:

How do you fix a broken jack-o-lantern? With a pumpkin patch!

What's the difference between Santa and a warm dog? Santa wears the whole suit but a dog just pants!

We went through a whole phase of knock-knock jokes that I will spare you. We did elephant jokes and chicken jokes and, for some reason, golf jokes. Sometimes I just wrote to them that I was so proud of them and that I hoped they had wonderful days.

I did/do this every time my kids take their lunches, just to give them a little smile in the middle of the day. Sometimes I recycle the jokes and use ones I've already given them if I'm out of time to write a new one, but still, it's hundreds and hundreds of notes...

Seeing all of those notes in the middle of this stressful time made me feel really good and gave me a big smile in the middle of my day. It sort of brought me back to center, you know? Like I remembered that what's really important and what makes memories the kids will cherish, is the consistency of my love for them. That every single day, they had a little note from me --just a small thing. Just one stitch into the fabric of their childhoods. All this other stuff--the selling the house and buying another and the stress over the unknown and the holidays and all the frantic pace of everything --none of it will mean as much to them as these daily expressions of love from their silly mom.

Why was the frog sad? Because he was un-HOPPY!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Might Need Traction

I wasn't going to post at all today and it has nothing to do with the fact that only three people seem to read me on Fridays and I can usually manage to piss at least one of them off. It's because I didn't want to have YET another "Oh-Woe-Is-Me,-I'm-Moving-Post."

Nevertheless, the past few days have been of such spectacular Suck-o-tash that I am posting anyway and if you're not in the mood for blatant self-pity and whining, you should go over to Miss Doxie who (although not a FAMILY writer, given the sheer amount profane utterances and the fact that she's not married and has no children) is one of the funniest blog writers I have ever read in my life. Seriously, I made my husband read some of her entries because they were THAT funny. And he even LAUGHED. She's a bit sporadic but you can come HERE for Regular and Whiny or go THERE for Sporadic and Hilarious.

So, the first thing that happened is that I was once again proven to be a Negotiation Imbecile when I paid our painters (in cash) before they'd finished the job. So, guess which painters haven't been exactly reliable this week? Guess whose husband keeps saying things like, "I'd be glad to handle this type of business transaction in the future. No pressure but I'd be glad to be the Bad Cop if you need me to."

I guess it's fairly clear that I'm not exactly a taskmaster. It's just that we knew we were going to be showing the house this week on Friday and I was kind of hoping that the painters would have done the things I'd asked of them by then. Like hanging the new shutters, which arrived on Wednesday, which was also the last day I heard from said painters. Coincidence? You make the call. The shutters didn't get here until 8:00 at night, naturally, but still. And you know, to be fair, it did RAIN a fair amount this week but yesterday was balmy and they could have, oh, I don't know, come back and installed the shutters and given the front door another coat of paint it so richly deserves, don't you think? Because I'd already PAID them for that. Did I mention I'd already paid them? And I did my "Bond With The People" thing, which is truly my greatest talent. If we're in a room for more than 20 minutes together, I will get your story. (Seriously. For a writer, that is a good trait. I just have one of those faces that people want to talk to. And then totally disregard, apparently.) It turns out that one of the painters used to be a drummer and he and I knew some of the same people. And he looked exactly like Iggy Pop only, possibly, skinnier and I felt sorry for him so I gave him one of my husband's coats... and then, nothing.

Because I am a big sucker, that's why.

Anyway, I worked all day yesterday packing up stuff and taking it to the garage. My husband pitched in when he got home but he had to do this little thing called "Working Two Jobs" since he is transitioning from one to the other and what that means is that he has to be some sort of super-human and in two places at once and neither one of those places is at home packing up plastic, lead-infested toys and other useless crapola into boxes. So I did a lot of that and then he got home and did a lot of that WITH me and then I did more of that this morning, plus I cleaned the dang house because the showing was scheduled for 12:30 TODAY and the housekeeper doesn't come until tomorrow. I don't know what she's going to DO tomorrow but I'm thinking we have to get some of those boxes back out and go through them because I can't find the checkbook. (Whoopsie.)

In the midst of all this, I kept trying to do a little laundry but since my DRYER is STILL broken and the Sears repair people STOOD ME FREAKING UP after I waited three weeks for the "next" available appointment, laundry was hard to do. My dryer sort of works but only for about ten minutes and then it has to rest for an hour. It can't seem to ignite more than once an hour. (No jokes, please.) It's been broken since before Thanksgiving.

This morning, Scout had to go to the vet to have this growth taken off his side. He was actually scheduled to go YESTERDAY but I forgot and fed him breakfast and then the sedation was out of the question so we rescheduled for today. Which turned out to be a good thing because the people who came to see the house have a child who is very afraid of dogs. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

So then the people came to see the house. A couple from New York with two kids--one three-and-a-half and one a bit less than one, I think. They brought the kids with them, naturally. The older child was deathly afraid of Sydney so I took Sydney with me when I left, to allow them to see my house.

I really liked the couple. As I drove away, I thought about how we have kids exactly the same age apart as their kids and what a great house it is for kids to grow up in. I thought of all the stories I could tell them. I thought about telling them how we used to just spread out huge sheets of paper in the kitchen for finger painting and then put a bunch of old towels and a couple of buckets with warm soapy water on the those towels and presto! Clean children and clean kitchen floor! I thought about telling her how she could leave the little one napping in a Pack-n-Play on the screened-in porch while she swam with the older one... I love my house so much. I really wanted them to love it, too.

Syd and I went and gassed up the van and then went to Goodwill to give away all the stuff we'd stashed in my van and then we happened to swing by a Starbucks (the van drove itself, I swear) and then we went and parked down the street from my house but facing the other way, so it wouldn't seem like I was pressuring them. I knitted, Syd slept. And hour went by. One of my beloved neighbors came by and stopped to ask if I was okay. I explained. Time went on. Pretty soon it was time for the school bus to arrive so I drove home --there was no one there. See, I had been under the impression that their realtor was going to call me when the people were done looking at my house and I got all hopeful that they were taking so long because they were in love with it. Which is how WE bought it, you know. I walked in and just knew it was the house for us.

But, uh, no.

She didn't call. So I don't actually KNOW how long they were in the house. And we haven't heard from them so I guess they weren't as much like us as I hoped.

All of this activity (the packing, the moving, the errand-running) came back to haunt me when -- HELLO -- my foot (the reconstructed one) stopped accepting weight. This turned out to be a rather large impediment to walking, not to mention crouching in front of the dryer to see if maybe it would ignite.

So, after I got the kids to their afternoon activities, I hobbled around building a fire and then went to the kitchen for a glass of wine.

We are out of white wine.

Given the weather, I can't drink red or I might as well just sign up for the Migraine Express.

And I don't think I can drive to the store and buy some, given my foot issue.

Coop? Coop? I'm having a CRISIS!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Funny Love Thursday

So, we're showing our house for the first time tomorrow. To, of all people, a family from New York. Is that hilarious?

Anyway, I have been packing up at least half of our house to stash in the garage so that our house looks like we live in this incredible sparsely furnished house. Which is also hilarious, besides being entirely untrue.

But I am trying hard. I haven't even dared decorate our Christmas tree with the kids because a friend told me that a Realtor told HER that Christmas is the worst time to show a house because when people see other people's Christmas stuff in a house, they can't picture celebrating Christmas with THEIR stuff in that house.

Far be it for me to squash someone's Christmas fantasy, especially because if these people buy our house, it'll be Christmas Comes Early At the Cooper's. Because it sure would be nice to miss the whole part of selling a house where I have to make up all the beds every morning and clean up every toy and scrub the sinks and turn on all the lights and quick bake a pan of cookies so the house smells homey. (Which is also hilarious, because when my house is smelling like its own homey self, it smells something like a cross between crayons, chocolate and wet dog. I don't think they make that fragrance as a plug-in.)

Anyway, want to see the difference between Lived In and Moving Out?

Living Room Before:

Living Room After:

Kitchen Before:

Kitchen After:

It looks so much better without all the mountains of stuff everywhere, don't you think? Which reminds me, if you haven't yet watched The Story of Stuff, please set aside twenty minutes and do so. It's amazing and incredibly informative and just might make you rethink your holiday purchases this year. And then you won't find yourself in the position I find myself in, where I am actively trying to HIDE or give away or throw out large volumes of stuff that we don't need and never should have bought in the first place.

Which is really more shameful than it is funny.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Everyone Should Have An Orange Cat

So, the cold front came through last night and the weather turned cold and gray and rainy.

It's at these times that our cat Thomas shows his true greatness as a snuggler. Last night he pinned my husband to the couch --and I choose those words very deliberately. Thomas weighs about 20 pounds, I guess, and he's so warm and so solid that when he lays down on you, you absolutely can't move.

My Janie came home from school with a bad headache (could be the fourth 30-degree-plus shift in our weather in as many days) and she's cuddling on the couch watching a movie. Guess who saw his chance and took it?

Gotta love an orange cat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Of Camera Failures and the Weather

Saturday, it was so warm that I worried about my kids not wearing sunscreen when we went to get our Christmas tree. I had hoped to get our Christmas picture but it just wasn't in the cards. I got some good sibling pictures, just not any that are good of BOTH girls. See?

Of course, one year I sent out a collage of bad photos with the caption, "Sigh. Maybe NEXT Year." I did a scrapbook page about it.

I guess I could always gather these pictures and have the caption, "Nope, not THIS year, either."

This one might have worked with a "In Your Wildest Dreams" kind of message but it's not very sharp. I may have to just go with it anyway.

Because I have to get something--ANYTHING--done for the holidays today or my head is going to explode.

But anyway, back to the weather--I bet you forgot we were talking about the weather, huh? I was saying how hot it was on Saturday and then on Sunday, just as hot until the late afternoon when a blue Norther came in and dropped the temperature 37 degrees in three hours. So, let's see here: we had the air conditioner on Saturday night, a fire in the fireplace on Sunday night and here it is Tuesday and I'm thinking maybe we need the AC again. Because it's like 6,000% humidity today and my hair is VERY confused.

Then yesterday was Jane's Gymnastics "Parent Watch" day, which seems to be synonymous with "Have Your Heart in Your Throat While You Watch Your 45-Pound Daughter Defy Death for an Hour." I had a camera failure on THIS instance, too, because I forgot to charge the batteries for my flash. But I took an interesting series of Jane doing a back handspring. (I'm not sure I WANT to see this in greater detail.)

And in other news: the painters are still here. They are really doing amazing work and things look so much better --and they are good and kind people so it's really okay that they seem to be living here now. But as long as they are painting in my living room, I can't decorate for Christmas. And that's just kind of a bummer because the WEATHER is making it impossible to get into the holiday spirit. Not to mention that fact that I can't seem to get anything done. But now that I think about it, maybe I can take some pictures of THEIR work... now, if I could only find the camera.