Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Masha Baby

Stick a chewbone under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good dog . . . .

Goodbye, Masha. We'll miss you.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vorpal Bunny? Not Quite.

Remember the garden I started up for the summer? Well, almost immediately, the rabbit in our yard ate all the celery. (Okay, I wasn't heartbroken about that because Anne, one of our CSA owners, told me that celery can be very demanding to grow.) We've actually done okay for the summer, with the rabbit eating various plants around the yard, and tending to only express mild curiosity in the garden. Until about 3 nights ago. I went out for my daily reality-check and lo! The carrot-greens were leafless! So I told the rabbit, who sat about 20 feet away from me -- pretending to be a rock with sharp eyes and a cute, twitching nose -- that he was lucky I couldn't catch him. (Because of course I would have put him in a hutch and fed him even more of what he liked until I could figure out what came next, with Penny and Emma likely pestering me with CanWeKeepHims.) The next day I dug up the carrots themselves before they withered in the dirt, and I threw them into a stir-fry. Yes, I washed them first. The largest two or three (carrots, not stir-fries) were about the size of those small baby carrots that the grocery stores sell. The rest of them were . . . well, we dubbed them Preemie Carrots. But damn, were they good. And I grew them. Pretty cool.

Friday, July 11, 2008

You can check out any time you like

It all started when we traded in our Subaru Outback and bought a new Mazda CX9. To their credit, the folks at our Mazda dealership have been amazingly patient through most of this as-yet-unfinished ordeal.

Apparently, when we paid the Subaru off, the bank never gave us the title. They sent us something that looked like a title (turns out it was an MA-1 Form, which masquerades quite convincingly as a real title). When we signed this impostor and left all Outback-related accoutrements with the Mazda dealer, the dealer had to call us back and inform us that we didn't give them the real title. I triple- and quadruple-checked our fire-safe box. Nope, no title. No problem, right? Simple oversight. I'll call the bank and they'll send it right out. Except for the part when the bank said they lost it.

Lost it? (So, I can lose my next twenty credit-card payments with no penalty, right?) We still have yet to get a satisfactory resolution with the bank on how they can lose the title for a car in which they had a vested interest. (Though, that's probably the point right there -- once we paid it off, they didn't give a crap, right? Not their problem anymore. Delete! Delete! cacklecackle)

Okay, annoying, but since the bank was able to provide a notarized letter stating that we did in fact pay the car off quite some time ago, we can call the California DMV and request a duplicate title. So, no problem.

Except for the part where the California FTB (Franchise Tax Board) claims that we owe seven years of back taxes on the car. Sooooo, we provide proof of registration in Massachusetts, effective seven years ago. Thank you, that will be 4 - 6 weeks for processing.

Six weeks later, we call the DMV. It seems that they've just moved our piece of paper from one desk to the other a few days earlier, and we will be called within the next 5 business days.

Six days later, we call the DMV. Our paperwork is being held up because the FTB says we owe back taxes on the car. (!?!?!?!?!?) So we call the FTB (again) and remind them about the paperwork we provided seven weeks earlier proving that we don't owe them the time of day, let alone any money.

It takes five additional days for this information to filter through the rat maze that is governmental bureaucracy and reach someone at the DMV. Great! Except for the part where nobody at the DMV seems to know what to do with this information (or, more precisely, how to hit the Print button).

Today, we get The Phone Call we're surprised we haven't received some time ago . . . Mazda really can't hang on to the Outback any longer without being able to sell it. We need to buy it back. Today.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

look--over there--greener grass!

Dissatisfied again. This time, I'm leaning towards moving closer to the city. Where I'm coming from now is that I've realized I'm taking on too much again. It's not the homeschooling; it's my propensity to jump from hobby to hobby. Do I really need to sew large amounts of the girls' clothing? Do I really want a huge yard to take care of? I can't stand lawn care, I can't wrap my brain around landscaping. Why am I taking it all on? All I want is room for a garden, a swing set, and a well-built shed.

It's not in the cards, of course, but at least I feel a little more centered about this discontent than I did about the other. (Isn't that an odd concept?) What I think it boils down to is that I grew up in a different sort of suburb. I like the suburbs, but I think I prefer them with a little more urban flavor. I'm starting to realize that I miss being close to things, I miss being able to walk or bike to the store or the library. I miss proximity to good food.

I wonder if it's a realizable goal? Start by talking to Dan, and see if he even agrees with me. Maybe we can implement some sort of five-year plan.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pocket full of posies . . .

Sigh. Many Mothers of Multiples (or MOMs, as we call ourselves) cringe at the comments we receive -- "Better you than me!" "Uh-oh! Double Trouble!" "Which one is the bad one?" "Which one is older?" "Are you sure they aren't (are) identical?" And let's not forget the big offender, "Are they Natural?" (No, they're synthetic! Bwahahahahaha!)

Most people don't realize how obnoxious they are being with these questions, especially the last one. Never mind that my twins were conceived all on their own; what business is it to a total stranger how my children were conceived? All the business in the world, apparently. You see, journalist and Massachusetts mom of twins Julie Suratt is bothered by what she terms the epidemic of twins -- in particular, those twins conceived with assistance (hers were not). Even worse than the news that medical intervention is Not Fair is the news that having twins is as personally devastating as contracting the bubonic plague. Yep, that's right -- having twins is akin to the Black Death.

Needless to say, several of the local Moms of Multiples clubs are a little riled up, including my own. Now, Suratt is completely within her rights to write a negatively slanted article regarding twins and triplets -- but, in all honesty, I don't understand why she would want to, nor do I care to, if it involves such a downward emotional spiral. Doesn't she know that it takes more energy, and is more emotionally draining, to behave negatively? Did she think that most other MOMs felt the same way? I guess we run in vastly different circles, because most of the MOMs I get together with -- while recognizing the unique challenges that multiples do often present -- do not feel that having multiples has cramped their style. In fact there's only one woman in our group of eighty-plus members who, though she hasn't admitted it (probably not even to herself), doesn't seem to have wanted motherhood. Sadly, I see a similar attitude in Suratt, who is upset that she had to "give up" her cute walk-up, or believes that if she had only one baby, her life would go back to the way it was.

Once you become a mom, life will never go back to the way it was. That's a fairy tale, just like the knight in shining armor. Parenthood, like marriage and everything else involving love, is a choice and a commitment -- one that you make over and over again. While I was pregnant with my twins, I lived happily under the delusion that, once they were six months old, I would be able to de-wallpaper, prime, and paint the walls of the guest bedroom during the girls' naptime. My mom, who had three kids but no twins, just smiled and nodded. Four years later, my sister, while pregnant with her son, lived happily under the delusion that she would be able to gut and renovate the second-floor bathroom during her infant son's naptime. My mother -- and I -- just smiled and nodded. It's a part of the rite-of-passage, I guess. No matter what anyone tried to tell me while I was pregnant, I just couldn't understand how all-encompassing parenthood is. As a fiercely independent Gen-Xer, I had planned to go back to work as a teacher by the time my kids were five. Instead, I've decided to stay home indefinitely and homeschool them. Having kids changes you, changes your priorities. If you can't meet that challenge, then I guess you spend the rest of your years whining and bemoaning how "needy" your children are, or how nobody understands how tough you have it.

Suratt would have readers believe that having twins opens mothers and babies up to a host of issues that other families do not have to deal with. In reality, she raised only a single parenting issue that truly only affects twins. Asthma? Not twin-related. Reflux? Not twin-related. Pneumonia? Not twin-related. Bedrest? Food allergies? Premature delivery? Lengthy NICU stays? Emergency C-section? PPD? Developmental delays? Breastfeeding difficulties? Wrangling more than one child while shopping? Balancing career and home responsibilities? Nope, none of these are twin-related. Mothers from all demographics -- in all geographical areas, of all ages, sizes, races, financial situations and marital statuses can and do find themselves dealing with these issues. The one genuine twin-related issue she mentions? Trying to decide whether or not to wake both babies up at the same time to keep them on the same schedule for feedings. Oh, the humanity!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

moving forward

You know what's cool? It's cool, it's totally sweet, when your traditionally-minded husband quotes John Holt during a conversation on possessions and children. See, today I received this Daily Groove through my inbox, and it resonated with me because I happened to be halfway there on my own. My old laptop, Snow White, suddenly went kerplooey right before Dan's last trip out of town. It was the second time Snow White had had a heat failure; the first happened while she was under warranty. This time, we decided the best course of action was a new computer. So, off to the Apple store we dashed, and the girls were so excited when I asked them for help naming the new computer. They decided on Chewbone, since it was also a white computer, and roughly the color of a rawhide chewbone. (Chewbone, welcome to the family. Now, get to work.)

Well, the girls have recently been clamoring to visit Build-A-Bear. Emma wants about a dozen different stuffed animals. They want these foamy water-gun things for using in the pool. Penny wants us to upgrade to a paid Pirates account. They both want more Captain Underpants books, and more Magic Treehouse books. And books about Pirates. And books about Rabbits. Emma wants to build another -- a better -- kite, one that will actually fly. (You get the idea.)

So, because of Chewbone, we had to have one of those mostly one-way discussions today -- I tried desperately to get across the idea that we have to cut back on the Wanty-spending for a while. As I began to explain that Mommy Got A New Computer, a few things occurred to me. (1) I was essentially telling them that I was allowed to have this very expensive thing and that as a result they were not allowed to have any of the little, less expensive things that they wanted for a few months (which of course can seem like forever to a 5-year-old). (2) It really wasn't my computer, anyway -- both the computers in this house are shared by us all, and although I am the primary adult who uses Chewbone, both girls know they are allowed to use it pretty much whenever they want. So, I shifted my perception right there -- it wasn't MY computer, it was OUR computer. Mommy didn't get a new computer -- We did.

And so, the girls both accepted that other Wanty spending would have to cut back, but that they would still get some Wants. Just not Everything they Want. So, the girls wandered off to get ready for bed; Dan read them a few more chapters from Captain Underpants. They chatted for a while, until they were too tired to stay awake. I sat down to check my email, saw the Daily Groove, and shared it with Dan. Who chimed in with John Holt.

And I thought he hadn't been paying attention.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

i can't get no

I've been feeling oddly dissatisfied lately. By "lately," I mean in the past 6 weeks or so. I don't know if this dissatisfaction was triggered by the latest proposed budget override hoopla (in town), or if it just happened to begin during said hoopla. Probably the latter, but I can't completely rule out the former as an influencing factor.

I'm feeling as if I want to sell the house, buy a large but more rural plot somewhere, and build my dream home. I don't like all the walls, here. I don't like the division and seclusion and closeting away of everything and everyone. I don't like the wasted space, or the distance, or the idea of separate rooms for each activity. I want a wide-open area, very few (if any!) hallways, and a better flow of light. I want fewer rooms. Not necessarily less space, though if you plan a house properly, that can happen, too -- but less space between us.

I know it won't happen anytime soon -- there are many things currently in the way -- but I just wanted to go on record and say that I'm feeling restless, wasteful, disconnected . . . and I need to find a way to address that.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Brita . . . Forever

I may just have to return the Brita tank and filters I purchased a few days ago. They're still in the box, and nothing is apparently wrong with them, but it's the principle, you see . . . . I was watching tv this evening, and saw the new Brita commercial about the plastic bottle that's "forever in a landfill." It seems blatantly obvious to me that, while the plastic bottle would actually be recycled, and NOT "forever in a landfill," the Brita filter is actually not recyclable, and therefore WOULD be "forever in a landfill." Just a suggestion to Brita . . . someone in marketing needs to be fired. And Brita needs a commercial that makes sense.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


During the Appendix Incident, I was able to find thirty minutes to dash up to Toys R Us and buy the bug habitat we've had on our list for a while. See, we've been finding ladybugs in the house (as many do), and the girls are concerned about them. While Dan was in California, we even rescued one ladybug from drowning in the toilet. After his wings dried out, and he had rested up a bit, he crawled off and found a safe place to sleep. After rescuing him, Penny decided we should offer him a safer way to find water, and she began putting a damp washcloth in the bottom of the sink every morning. But both girls were worried about what the ladybug was going to eat, and whether or not he would die before the weather warmed up enough for him to go back outside. Hence, the bug habitat. And magnifying glasses.

So we readied the habitat and left it on my sewing table, near the bathroom. Yesterday afternoon, the girls noticed the ladybug crawling along the baseboard, dangerously near the toilet. I carefully scooped him up and introduced him to his new home. We added a moist cottonball and a plump raisin (thanks to The Ladybug Lady for advice on what to feed him). The girls have named him Crawlie and we've placed the habitat on the dining room table, so I can remember to give him a fresh raisin and a fresh moist cottonball every day. Welcome, Crawlie.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gimmie an "A" . . .

Gimmie a "P"

Gimmie a "P," "E," "N," "D," "I," "X!"

Last week, Dan was in California for work; only two days after his return home, his gut started aching. A Tuesday visit to the doctor resulted in a CT scan of his abdomen, which resulted in admittance to the hospital for an appendectomy. During the course of the Diagnosis Day, my Outback was in the shop and Dan's stick shift Audi was in the hospital's parking lot. Fortunately, the CT scan was late enough in the day that Dan was able to come home and take me to pick up the Outback (it was the rear brakes). Then, I loaded everyone into the Outback, dropped Dan off (by this time he had gone close to 24 hours since his last meal. Ugh.), and took the girls to the bookstore, then dinner, then to the hospital to check on Dan. Of course, they were running late, and he finally came out around 7 pm . . . except nobody told him we were there, or what waiting room we'd been directed to use. Sooo, around 7:30, he wandered past us by chance. About 15 minutes later, the doctor called him and sent him down to the ER for admittance; I took the girls home and explained what would happen, that Daddy wouldn't be able to roughhouse for a while, showed them Emma's scar from her chest tube, and shortly afterwards they fell asleep. Dan was wheeled in to surgery (laproscopic) around 7:30 Wednesday morning; the girls spent the day at Debbie's (thank heaven for Debbie!), I spent some time with Dan, who was sent home in time for the girls' bedtime that day. I guess the fact that he had the nurses in stitches most of the day was a big clue as to how he was doing. Oh, and the girls came down with a cold, too, which is really knocking Penny for a loop. Whew! I feel like I just competed in an Olympic Multitasking Event.

I want to note, here, that Dan has an exceptional bunch of coworkers. I sent an email out, letting them know what was up, and three of them stopped by the hospital to visit him briefly while he was recovering. When the girls were born, and in the NICU for 3 and 5 weeks, two of his coworkers took the time to drive all the way into Boston to visit us and see the girls. I was just so (pleasantly!) surprised, both times, but I really shouldn't be.

Anyway, Dan is home, camping out in the guest room (on the main floor) for a few days, and our Easter will be shockingly low-key, and the Ikea furniture purchases will be put off until sometime next week, when Dan anticipates being comfortable enough to keep an eye on the girls while I take care of the lugging.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Easter Eggs

Today, Dan let me sleep in (the board meeting ran until midnight last night!), and when he came in to wake me, he did so with the news that Penny and Emma were playing a DVD game on Penny's Mickey Mouse DVD; Penny had discovered the game by finding an Easter Egg. As I looked at Dan and wrapped my brain around this accomplishment, he laughed and said, "Should we really be surprised?" Penny has an intuitive sense with electronics. She has figured out every remote control she encounters, knows how to record programs and even remove deleted programs from the TiVo trash can. It's cool.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Front Yard Vegetable Garden

The girls have decided that even though we are going to sign up with our CSA again this summer, they would like to have a garden at home, too. They want to grow corn, carrots, broccoli, and celery. Sooooo, now I'm researching gardening. Emma is especially excited -- for the past two summers, she's created rock and mud gardens in the backyard. I've already chosen a spot in the front yard that gets nice sun, and is at least partially hit by the sprinklers; we may be able to tweak the sprinkler heads to hit the area completely.