Sunday, January 27, 2008

When it Rains, it Pours

And I'm not talking about Morton's salt.

I DEB-sat last night so my father-in-law could enjoy a little down time. I have to confess here that my heart really wasn't into it at all. In fact, I was downright resistant to the idea, but I wouldn't dare to say so. I just flat-out didn't feel like it, and I feel horribly guilty for that. The Oracle had to work yesterday and was gone from noon until 9:00 p.m., so I couldn't even rely on his presence to give DEB a little stimulation or whatever.

Without the gory details, let's just say she was really tough yesterday between the bathroom runs and the magic mushrooms. Precious Daughter was nitpicky and whiny about the incorrect facts, and overall it was just a frustrating evening. My father-in-law (I need to find a nickname for him!) arrived to pick DEB up not five minutes before The Oracle returned home.

*Sigh...* When everyone is gone and/or sleeping, I settle in to work on a transcript that I needed to finish. Almost immediately I start drooping and drooling on the keyboard, so I set the alarm on my phone for a half-hour snooze, tuck it into my bra so the vibration actually wakes me up, and I doze on the couch.

Not three minutes before my alarm goes off I hear a funky noise coming from Mighty B's room, and I am yanked into wakefulness by the telltale hollow-souning "Mahhhh-myyyyy" that immediately follows.

His sheets, pillows, and comforter are covered in the technicolor remnants of dinner (cherry Jell-O for dessert!!) and that awful acidic aroma hangs in the air. Ohhhh, crap. My poor kid.

I should've seen this coming. Precious Daugter had the same problem on Thursday night, but I attributed it to the horribly indigestible hot dogs the school serves for lunch. You know the ones I'm talking about. The kind that leave you burping hot-dog spices until the next morning.

Lucky me, it's a tummy bug instead.

And, by the way, thanks to these vomitous episodes Thursday and last night, I have discovered that my children aparrently do not chew their food. Good Lord, I don't know how they can swallow such large objects without obstructing an airway. Bad enough that I have to clean it up, but when I can easily identify what's there I'm ready to worship the porcelain god myself.

Uglier still: carrots and red Jell-O do not look pretty together.

So instead of working on my transcripts, Mighty B and I spent the evening on the sofa as he dozed and retched and dozed and retched between my trips up and down the stairs with some heavy-duty laundry.

I hate washing comforters. Thank God I put the mattress cover over the featherbed or that would've driven me to tears.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hooray for Me! (Now You Should Do the Same!)

Why, you ask? Because I finally came to my senses and took the time to back up all of my work files. It has been months -- months!! -- since I've backed up transcripts, billing spreadsheets, and the like. The need to do so has been niggling at my mind and interrupting my sleep for weeks, but I never "got around to it." I've been perched on the edge of my seat waiting for the catastrophic, Murphy's-Law crash of my three-year-old laptop that, thankfully, never came.

If it's important to you, folks, back it up.

Today's homework assignment is to back up your data and then write fifty times: "I will regularly back up my data."

I know that "regularly" is a relative term. If your career and/or finances revolve around your computer files, they should be backed up daily or every other day.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

An Update on DEB

Physically my mother-in-law is doing quite well. She's getting up and down with little or no help, she's making it to the bathroom, and her blood sugar and blood pressure are nicely controlled.

The books are still all over the floor, but sometimes she has these glimmers of perfect lucidity. We went to dinner last weekend, and she asked me a perfectly accurate question about the weather or some such thing, and our conversation was blissfully normal, right down to her wry digs against my father-in-law. Twenty seconds later she wrecked my illusion of normalcy with a magic mushroom description of a trip to NYC. Ah well. It was fun while it lasted.

Earlier this week, she spotted a television commercial for that new and popular Alzheimers medication, Aricept. She called her husband into the room and asked if she should be taking it. It must be so strange at times to be alert enough to realize you're not right inside your head.

Interestingly enough, the answer regarding Aricept, for now, is no. Their family physician gave her a physical on the 11th, and he asked her a number of questions. Her answers were accurate and up-to-date, so he wasn't confident with prescribing Aricept. She's scheduled for an evaluation (neurological?) in February. It is then they'll decide whether to start the medication.

This evening I DEB-sat so my father-in-law could enjoy a little down time with some friends. I must confess that my selfish heart really wasn't in the mood for it tonight, but I know he really needs the break or he'll have a stroke of his own. It will be so much easier when they're moved in here and we can do these things without all the shuttling back and forth.

Tonight DEB was a bit fatigued and her mental grip on things wasn't a good one. Much of DEB's efforts were:

Telling V to put shoes on (she's a barefoot princess just like me. I hate wearing shoes.)
Telling B to put pants and shoes on (B's preferred attire is a shirt and his underwear. He almost never wears pants, socks, or shoes at home.
Telling both kids they had to go to bed for school tomorrow until I reminded her for the skeenteenth time that it's Saturday.
Asking where my father-in-law was.

My daughter has no patience for Grandma's oddball questions, and it is sometimes difficult to keep her attitude in check. B doesn't care. He's just happy to have DEB around.

So am I.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Post All His Own (As Promised)

Meet Gus:
Gus joined our family on Christmas Day (thank you, Santa), and he’s been a whole lot of rootin’-tootin’ fun ever since.

Gus, or “Gassy Gus” as he prefers to be known, is a card-carrying member of IFOCE. There is little in this world he enjoys more than parking in his recliner and eating a wide array of artery-clogging, indigestible foods and afflicting his housemates with resounding blasts of flatulence.

Gus’s food choices are assigned numbers ranging from one through seven. The higher the number, the more likely you’ll need a heavy dose of Gas-X or pink bismuth. (Remember that old commercial? Indi...gestion...)

According to this array of food choices, the chili with beans is most likely to send your bowels into an uproar, and the perennial picnic favorite, watermelon, is virtually flatulence free. Hmph. I’d like to know who scored these cards, and how they reached their decisions.
A Lesson in Digestion:

If you wanted to know your digestive functions ah… functioned, check this out. Not only is your stomach a giant red balloon, it is connected directly to -- wait a minute. Just what exactly is Gus’s stomach connected to? Surely, this is not -- never mind. Let’s move on.

Rules of Play:

Someone deals five cards to 2-4 players. Each player also gets two “Belly Buster” cards, which looks like a bottle of soda. (I don't get the soda logic here. Soda makes you burp. I guess we can't have little kids giving Gus beer to wash it all down.) Each player takes turns laying food cards on Gus’s tray and opening and closing Gus’s mouth for the number of “chomps” written on the card. A “chomp” means opening Gus’s mouth as wide as it will go…

(Ignore the card behind his head. Check out that uvula instead!!)

...and closing his mouth until it clicks. Play goes around the table with folks feeding Gus and chomping his jaws while his belly expands. When you suspect that Gus’s digestion is about to revolt, you play the lower-numbered cards and pray that his gasses pass to the next player. At any time, your opponents can slap you with the “belly buster” card, which forces you to chomp Gus’s jaws three more times for each Belly Buster thrown at you.

I think even Gus is looking a little worried here.

If Gus decides to “let go” during your turn, you must draw two cards from the pile.

Thankfully, with only two Belly Buster cards per person, this game does eventually end, unlike Hi Ho Cherry-O, which I just about loathe because it goes on for-ev-er, and I am constantly stepping on and sucking up cherries in the vacuum. With Gus, my kids are still counting and they’re giggling their hineys off.

I guess he can stay awhile.

Ready for more nachos and broccoli, Gus?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Squatter

A squatter invaded my daughter's house a week or so ago. At first we thought she merely moved in for a little extra warmth (that room used to be right near the heater vent). Precious Daughter was very upset last night, and wanted Chessie the Squatter evicted once and for all. I picked the house up off its foundation and moved it over a foot. Chessie scurried out of the room.

Two minutes later, she was back inside and refusing to leave. I took these pictures this morning.

Oh, Hello. Nice of you to drop by. I was just getting ready to take a nap, so you can leave now.

And what do you want? Nope. This seat's taken.

These little plastic people are so pushy!

On an interesting note, that's my old Barbie Dream House you're looking at. Precious Daughter played with it a lot until Chessie moved in.

Chessie really isn't such a sour-looking cat. She's just old and going blind in one eye. It's actually shrinking. It has something to do with some tiny duct that isn't working any more and can't be repaired.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Hey, why not?

Elysa is having a little giveaway on her site, and the prize is one of the rather pretty beaded bracelets her group has been making as a fundraiser. If you have a spare minute, take a peek over there.

The story behind the jewelry can be found here.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

How He Got the Name

I simply didn't like that "Strays or Grays" post. I re-read it this morning, got skeeved, and deleted it in favor of a better subject.

Why do I call him The Oracle?

Simply put, he's brilliant, he makes me laugh my hiney off, and he knows how to get me off the ledge. When I'm angry beyond rational thought, I gripe to him and come away with a sensible way to handle things. Better still, he also knows when I just need a pair of ears to hear my tirade so I can get over it and move on with life.

He's an excellent daddy and much more patient than I am on most days.
He cleans the bathroom and scrubs the floors, two jobs I utterly detest.
He cooks (best chocolate chip cookies ever).
He changes the litter pan.
He wipes B's butt.

I really don't know what I'd do without him. I'd probably be gibbering in corner somewhere. He certainly doesn't deserve the punishment I dish up, but he tolerates me to no end.

It's a crummy picture because I keep bumping the little wheel that changes the camera settings. I should just Krazy Glue it in place.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I was never a big partier for New Year's Eve, but I do like staying up late (if I have the stamina) and saying hello to a new year. As I mused in an email to a friend earlier this evening (Hi, JS!) I'm amazed at how much my life has changed.

When I was a kid, my parents would go out with my aunt and uncle, and their kids would come to our house. My mom would purchase a wide array of junk food and soda, and we kids would glut ourselves on chips and candy and fizz until midnight, and then we'd ring bells and scream "Happy New Year" in the driveway until we were hoarse. One year my eldest sister made a banner with large, glittered, cut-out numbers taped to a broom handle, and we marched that up and down the street.

When I was a high-school dork, I'd take my glockenspiel outside and play Auld Lang Syne. Sometimes I'd hear Perry playing the same on his trumpet a few blocks away, but I was never good enough or fast enough to find the right key to join in, so I waited until he was done and took my turn.

New Year's Eve always used to involve champagne and dancing. Even in the years when I was grossly underage, I learned that working at a restaurant on New Year's Eve was the best way to enjoy a party with the grownups. It didn't matter if I was only 16, they still had champagne in the kitchen, and I always danced and sang to the music as I worked, so why should NYE be any different?

When I was 18-ish, the name du jour for only restaurant I ever worked in was called Schooner's Inn, and I was working New Year's Eve. That year was a bit of a blur. My mom and stepdad decided they were going to hang out at the Schooner's bar to ring in the new year. Well, golly gee. They bought a bottle of champagne. Between the glass they kept full for me at the bar and the glass Megan kept refilling for me in the kitchen, it's a wonder I wasn't staggering into patrons and dumping dishes all over the floor. I'm surprised my bosses didn't notice, but that may have been because they'd been hitting the champagne too.

When I was old enough to go out on NYE, I did. The local fire house didn't card too enthusiastically when I was 20, and as a bonus it proved to be an excellent first date. Really, what kind of pressure is it on a guy to have NYE as your first date? That, to me, is courage. It ranks right up there on the pressure scale as being taken to someone else's wedding. It turned out to be so much fun that JS and I went there the following year as well.

One of the most fun NYEs I ever enjoyed was '89 into '90. The Oracle had this fabulous group of friends of maybe 6 or 7 guys. Well, they're still his friends, but over time they all married and started families and all that good stuff. One of the already-marrieds and his wife, I'll call them The Inventors, rented a monstrous house at a ski resort (the name suddenly escapes me) in Vermont. There were probably 15-20 people in that house. We all brought food and had a great time together. The Oracle and I had every intention to go skiing since neither of us had ever tried it before, but on New Year's Day a huge ice storm coated the slopes, and the experienced skiers were coming back bloodied and bruised. We chickened out and put our culinary skills to use feeding everyone else.

It was during that weekend, when we stopped in at his aunt's, that The Oracle first seriously mentioned the notion of marriage, even though we'd only been dating a smidge over two months.

In most of the years since, we stayed home on NYE. Once V and B arrived any hope of partying came to a screeching halt. Little kids have a way of keeping you at home, and that's really all right with me. Now I look at NYE and I wonder, what's the hype? It's just a new calendar for Pete's sake, and I'm glad since I'm tired of the old one. I've become such a wimp, I'd probably be asleep twenty minutes after consuming a glass of champagne anyway. Never mind that I'd likely end up belching it all night and halfway through the Fancy Brigades tomorrow.

Ah, but I'd love a glass of bubbly right now. JS once defined champagne bubbles as "the fifth food group" (now the 6th, since they revamped that a few years ago), and he generously kept my diet well rounded with bubbles. It's a wonder I didn't drown or hiccup to death.

He taught me this little ditty, too, and I sing it every year when "the ball drops." It struck midnight as I was posting a contest entry on at ( and it immediately came to mind.

(Sung to Auld Lang Syne. For you folks who cry every time you hear/sing Auld Lang Syne, this is an excellent alternative lyric.)

There was a man
His name was Lang
And he had a neon sign
And every time he turned it on
They called it Old Lang's Sign.