Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Scoop in the Poop

I waited for a nice, chilly day to take care of a job I've neglected for much too long: Scooping poop. For lots of reasons, I've let this job go for a number of months. With a German Shedder, poop piles up fast.

I've geared my mind to doing this for a number of weeks, but with holiday preparations, heavy rains, and unseasonably warm spells, the opportunity wasn't there. Well, okay, it was, but only thing worse than scooping months' worth of poop is scooping that poop on a warm and/or soggy day. Blech.

Yeah, I know. Too much information.

Today was the day. I grabbed the scooper and armed myself with a bunch of bags and started my trek around the lawn.

There's a reason why we call our dog Duh-chess or Knucklehead. For a German Shepherd, she's not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. Her biggest problem is her mouth. She's worse than a Beagle or even a billy goat. She'll eat anything, keeping her digestion in states of varying turmoil. She'll have days where she's listless and will eat very little, and we know it's because she's somehow managed to eat something inedible.

We do our best to keep this at bay by preventing access to the known hot spots like the cat food, the litter pan, and the kitchen trash, but she still finds her way into mysterious bouts of tummy trouble. Today, during my seemingly-endless round of scooping, I scooped a poop into which a pair of Barbie's pants were knotted. Come on, now. What could possibly be appetizing about Barbie's yellow capris with the pink triangles? (Thank God Precious Daughter didn't spot them!)

The dumb dog deserves to be sick!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!

I knew there was a reason on Christmas Eve morning for not getting our tails out the door before 9:30 as I wanted. I had quite a bit to do despite my best efforts to have everything done earlier so I could putter around at a relaxed pace to get ready for Christmas Day. Ah well.

Y'see, I shot my schedule in the foot, so to speak. The Oracle and I made the foolish promise to allow our kids to "camp out" in the living room the night before. This stemmed from an overnight "adventure" on which Mighty B. and The Oracle spent a "guys' night" at House Fairy's and DEB's. I'm not even sure why they did that, but Mighty B. has been wanting to do it again. Precious Daughter wanted to give it a try too.

Anyway, conversations on the subject evolved into "camping out" in the living room with their air mattresses, and they've been hounding me weekly to do it. A couple weeks ago, I relented, and promised them they could do it on their first night of Christmas break, selling the point with the fact that the Christmas tree would be up and could stay lit all night.

Sick and snotty as they are, they insisted upon keeping the arrangement, thereby thwarting my efforts to finish late-night last-minute tasks. They were up rustling around until after 11:00. Even more amazing is that Mighty B. was up bright and early at 7:00 as usual.

Precious Daughter had a slower start and so did I. We finished breakfast, I puttered around a bit, and around 10:00 I heard sirens. My first thought was that the layer of ice coating everything earlier that morning caused a nasty accident. Then Precious Daughter started shouting and scrambling into shoes. "Santa's coming!!!"

Oh, yes! How could I forget? Every year the local fire company assembles a large procession and escorts Santa and Mrs. Claus up and down the streets of their service area. Precious Daughter sensibly chose her winter boots and allowed me to get a coat on her back before scrambling outside. Mighty B., still in his pajamas, threw on sandals and ran outside without a coat, and I just about had a conniption. I had to chase him down to put the thing on. Thankfully, the early-morning ice had melted by then.

They waited eagerly at the end of the driveway as the sirens approached, Mighty B doing so with his knees jiggling back and forth, but he wouldn't hear of throwing on sweat pants. At last, they could see the flashing red lights and started jumping up and down. The first truck rounded the corner. The second was pulling Santa's sleigh, and he waved the kids forward to give them little gifts.

Santa turned the corner, and the rest of the "parade" followed, lights flashing and sirens blaring.

I'm glad I live in a fun neighborhood.

I know I've fallen behind on posting, but I hope to get more done in the next couple of days. Bear with me!

Monday, December 22, 2008

There's Nothing Meaner...

...than sick kids during holidays. How cruel is it that my five year old son is suffering a rotten, sinusy head cold a mere three days before Christmas? The poor kid has his nose running off his face. It's so bad that he's willingly blowing his nose, something we normally badger him to do when he starts snuffling. His breath his horrid.

I'm wondering whether he'll be able to handle his last half day of school before Christmas break or if I'll have to keep him at home. Selfish critter that I am, I am tempted to send him to school so I can handle a few last-minute tasks.

Even worse is that I can see Precious Daughter is right behind him. She's starting out with the same look in the eye that he had a few days ago, and her breath is bad enough to peel paint.

On the bright side, bedtime on the 24th might be pretty easy.

The Repairman is Here!!

My stove is being repaired as I write. I was worried sick over not having a stove for Christmas Eve dinner. Actually, I'm nearly ecstatic. So much so that I almost don't mind paying the $133.80 for parts and labor.


Friday, December 19, 2008

"We are the Shepherds..."

"...Who Watch the Sheep. Tonight a Holy Watch We Keep."

That was B's line today for the school Christmas play. He's the one in the blue robe with the white headpiece to our immediate left of the angel.
I arrived fifteen minutes before the scheduled start, and the place was packed, much more so than when Precious Daughter did her kindergarten performance two years ago. There are very few "good spots" in this room to view anything, and my location was downright lousy. I would have been better off standing on a chair in the back, and I wish I had.
I stood near-ish to the front, though, because it was important for Mighty B. to be able to spot me. If he couldn't find me, I suspect he wouldn't have focused on his line or his songs very well. It's silly, I know. Most of the time the kid doesn't give a rat's patootie about what his mother wants, especially when it concerns his behavior, but at least he wants me around for these little highlights.
What you don't see is my poor kid's discomfort in this costume. The blue robe, despite being a lightweight flannel (which is almost like Velcro in contact with other fabric), kept sliding off his shoulders. I admit that it didn't occur to me to pin it somehow, mainly because I've done this same basic thing before and it stayed in place without one. (Thank you, Mrs. M., for setting it right when it fell off completely.)
The headdress, for lack of better term, was annoying him too. It must have been tickling his eyelash or something.
Between the sheep occupying one hand, the crook filling the other, the misbehaving robe and his annoying headdress, the poor kid was one uncomfortable, distracted camper. He carefully put his crook down two or three times during the performance to try brushing the headpiece out of his face or hitch the blue robe back onto his shoulder. To his credit, he kept singing when he was supposed to sing and was silent when he should be silent. I am quite proud of him.
Mighty B being who he is, I made the shepherd's crook out of styrofoam. I was afraid of giving him sticks, canes, pool cues, or any other potential weaponry. I know my son. Before the thing was even finished, he lifted it up and pointed it at his sister like a rifle. (Don't know where he learned that; we have no guns around here and watch little television.)
Anyway, the kindergarten class did an excellent job with their lines and performances. I'd post more pictures, but I don't feel right doing that with other peoples' kids.
I go back this afternoon for Precious Daughter's class project: Gingerbread houses. (Well, technically, they're graham-cracker houses.) I'll post more later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Should've Called the House Fairy

My cooktop is less than a year and a half old. A month ago, one of the burners stopped functioning properly, working only in the extremes of barely tepid or arc welding. Anything under the "high" setting barely warms the burner. I figured I'd live without it "for now." I mean, I rarely have two large pots going at one time, so I thought I could adapt.

Last week, however, my other large-sized burner quit on me. I was boiling potatoes to mash, had the thing set on 7 (out of a possible 9), and it took a while but the water was juuuuust under a simmer. I moved it up half a notch and it quickly brought my potato water to a nice boil, then to violently boiling over. I reduced the heat, but it still kept the water at a high boil. I turned the burner off, and the blasted thing kept cycling anyway (didn't shut off). I had to throw the breaker to turn off the blinkin' stove.

I considered calling the House Fairy and decided against it. I remember the bee-yotch of a time they had installing the thing, and I thought that if a paid service guy ended up cracking my cooktop, it would be on them and not on us to buy a replacement. I saw nothing but a can of worms for the House Fairy, and sparing him the hassle seemed like the better option. He has enough going on with DEB these days.

I called an appliance repair service from the list recommended by the manufacturer. The service guy arrived today. He was finished in under fifteen minutes, and I still do not have a functioning stove.

He arrived, and I described the problem. After turning the misbehaving burners on and off quickly, he says my elements are functioning, so I need new switches for those two burners. Okay; fine.

He crawls beneath the stove and gets the model & serial numbers. Then he tells me they'll call when the parts come in. Oh, by the way, I need to have someone remove any sealant around the stove edges so he can lift it out because they don't do that. That'll be $70.49, ma'am.

Huhwhat? That's it? Am I going to be able to cook Christmas dinner?

To say that I'm seething is an understatement. First off, I said nothing different to this guy than I did when I placed the service call. While on the phone, I easily could have turned the burners off and on to test the elements, and I certainly could've crawled beneath the stove and obtained the model and serial numbers, sparing this guy a trip and saving myself the expense. Lastly, I could have had any sealant removed long before he came if anyone at the office had bothered mentioning it when I scheduled the appointment.

If I'm going to pay seventy bucks for someone to screw me, shouldn't he at least dim the lights first? YIKES!!!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Them Again!

As a freelance court reporter, you run all over God's little acre for depositions. Doctors' offices, attorneys' offices, places of business, wherever you're needed. Commuting is sometimes a bit of a pain, but the variety keeps things interesting. As time wears on, the docs' and attorneys' faces become familiar, and eventually you can semi-predict how a job is going to go just by the people present.

Over the past five or six weeks, I've had a flurry of activity from one firm in particular. Until today, not one deposition with this firm has gone off without a hitch. Out of six jobs scheduled, three cancelled me after I'd already driven into the city, committed to horrendous parking fees, and trudged to their office from the parking garage.

A fourth job was a wild goose chase. I show up at the firm and they tell me the depo is at an office down the street. She gives me the address and suite number. I drag my stuff over there, go to the suite in question, and I'm greeted by a friendly attorney who knows nothing of what I'm talking about. Drat. My cell phone is dead and I can't call the firm to double check anything. Friendly Attorney suggests the doc's office down the hall as a possible location. Friendly is new to the building, and believes he now occupies the doc's former offices.

It's worth a try, but no dice. The doc's office is locked up tight. I trudge back to the firm to the receptionist who gave me the bad address. She calls the destination to confirm their address, and it's around the corner, thank goodness. Back down the elevator, past the bewildered security guard, and out the door I go to the new location, check in with the receptionist, and wait. Wait, wait, wait. Opposing counsel doesn't show and I'm canceled again.

I told my agency, when assigned another job with the firm this week, that if I'm cancelled one more time, don't send me there again. Between the gas and the parking, the base appearance fee is barely worth my while. I'd make better money sitting in my recliner and editing someone else's transcripts during the amount of time I wasted.

On my way, my agency calls and tells me the job's been moved a half hour later. Okay. At least it isn't cancelled. Still, I'm a smidge irked that I'm pretty much committed to my drive and I'll be paying for an extra half hour of parking.

I arrive nearly forty minutes early. The receptionist directs me to a chair, and I open my book and wait some more. The deponent arrives and waits in the same cluster of chairs with me. Mr. Attorney arrives five minutes before our scheduled start and takes the deponent back to talk about things before the deposition. Opposing counsel arrives. We wait. Eventually we're led to the conference room and I can set up.

Oh, look! The hiring attorney enters a bit after 3:00, and he's carrying a box from a reputable bakery in the city. It's nearly full with a scrumptious assortment of Italian cookies. He offers them around and places them in the middle of the table. I take the opportunity to remind all present to swallow their cookies before speaking, since I won't be able to understand anyone talking with his mouth full. Hiring attorney says, Oh, don't worry, I speak slowly (he thinks!).

I swear the witness, and hiring attorney begins reciting a bunch of stipulations for the record. Not even finished his third sentence, he reaches into the box and pulls out a cookie. Oh, no! It's not just a cookie, but a blinkin' biscotti!!

There is precious little on this earth that's a crunchier or noisier chew than biscotti except for maybe bagel chips or corn nuts.

We had lots of repeated testimony.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Bizarre

My kids had their Christmas Bazaar at school today. Armed with Ziploc baggies of dollar bills and quarters, the silly antlers V&R gave them at their party the other week, a list of people to shop for, and gigantic bags to hold their loot, they scooted onto the bus full of enthusiasm for the day ahead.

The younger grades, (Pre-K to 2) are assigned helpers from the older grades to move things along and to keep the kids on track. Next year, Precious Daughter gets to shop on her own. It will be interesting to see how she does.

They got off the bus this afternoon with their bags of goodies, with Mighty B practically tripping over his untied shoelaces in his rush to get across the street.

Precious Daugther successfully shopped for everyone on her list, showing me everything one by one and telling me who it was for. She also has the sense to keep my present a secret. For the most part, her gifts are "right on the money" for their recipients. She and her helper did a really good job.

Mighty B, on the other hand, hasn't grown an inch in this department since last year. His helper clearly had his hands full. Last year, I popped in during the bazaar to give B something I'd forgotten, and his twelve-year-old helper was already frustrated in his efforts to keep B on track.

This year was clearly no better. His bag is full of toys, with a few practical items here and there. When I ask who the gift is for, it changes every thirty seconds. The item he says he bought for Precious Daughter is now for Daddy. A few minutes later, it's for Uncle B. He also proudly displayed the thing he bought for me despite my efforts to explain why it's kept a secret until Christmas Day. Oh, wait! Now it's for Aunt V. Phew!

Clearly, they had a wonderful time today. My biggest battle now is to keep Mighty B out of the gift bag until Christmas. He is obsessed with its contents.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tagged Again

Coffee Bean tagged me for another meme. That's two of 'em two days in a row. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

This one also has an award attached, but once again I feel I'm ineligible because I don't like twisting others' arms to play. If you want to play, please do.


Seven Things:

Seven things I did before: (before what, I wonder?)
1. Worked at a cemetery.
2. EMT (very, very brief, had nothing to do with #1!)
3. Drank champagne.
4. Partied on New Years Eve.
5. Wore leather skirts with fishnet stockings.
6. Regularly used cosmetics.
7. Drove a Firebird w/T-tops (loved that car!!)

Seven things I do now:
1. Yell too much.
2. Self-employed SAHM
3. Wipe noses.
4. Spend too much time on the computer.
5. Have a Facebook account.
6. Procrastinate wherever possible.
7. Gestate.

Seven things I would like to do:
1. Be more self-disciplined and organized.
2. Be more patient.
3. Own a house on the beach or the river.
4. Ditch our mortgage.
5. Spoil my children (if it wouldn’t -- well -- spoil them.)
6. Maintain an earlier bedtime.
7. Be more adventurous with cooking (hard w/picky kids).

Seven things that attract me to my spouse/significant other (in no particular order):
1. He makes me laugh my butt off, and it's always when I need it most.
2. He’s honest and ethical, almost to a fault.
3. His eyes grabbed my attention when we first met.
4. He is brilliant.
5. He puts up with my forgetfulness.
6. He is an excellent daddy.
7. He gives fabulous hugs.

Seven favorite foods (gosh, only seven?):
1. Cheesesteaks with fried onions (maybe ‘shrooms) w/perfectly crispy fries.
2. Strawberries.
3. Fresh, ripe peaches.
4. The Oracle's chocolate chip cookies
5. My father-in-law’s French onion soup.
6. Waffles w/butter and syrup.
7. Pound Cake.

Seven things I say most often:
1. I'll ______ in just a minute.
2. Where's my purse?
3. I’m sorry, I forgot all about it. (What will I be like when I’m 80?)
4. Fa-la-la!!! (when we had to stop swearing around little children)
5. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you’re about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? (at every deposition.)
6. Can’t you two get along for five minutes!!??
7. I love you!

Seven people I am tagging:
Oh, see? There we go again. Why do I have to tag other people? I feel like a bully.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Tag, I'm it!"

Vee tagged me with a "This Blog Measures Up" award.

Say one nice thing about a man in your life.

Just one? Okay. I always appreciate The Oracle’s honesty. Even when part of me wishes he’d lie, I’m thankful he doesn’t.

List at least 6 ways that you measure (get it?) success in your life (or your blog).

1. Being available and useful when my friends or family need me.
2. Preparing a meal (other than spaghetti) that everyone enjoys and devours.
3. Getting my kids off to school with full bellies and without yelling (Getting homework done within an hour and without losing my mind means it’s an excellent school day from start to finish.)
4. Not having too deep a backlog of transcripts
5. A month with no finance charges/late fees
6. A shiny sink.

Assign this award to 6 other bloggers, and leave them a comment telling the blogger you've assigned them this award.

Awww, now I can’t do that. First of all, I barely know that many blogs; and second, I have this thing about chain mail. I get memes in my email all the time, and I never force anyone to respond. It just isn’t my way. (Hmmm... Does this mean I'm depriving someone of an award they might want? Thoughts?) I guess this means I forego the "certificate of authenticity" that comes with "measuring up." That's okay. It's a fun exercise.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cookies for Kids' Cancer

Please take a look at Toby's blog today, and consider supporting kids' cancer research by placing an order with www.cookiesforkidscancer.org.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One Word

Vee posted this on her blog. I have to admit I'm a bit of a sucker for these time-squandering questionnaires. Using this blog to answer them is a good way of not afflicting others with obligations to respond, but they can if the feel like it.

The idea with this one is that you use only one word to answer each question.

Where is your mobile phone? Pocket
Where is your significant other? Working
Your hair color? Graying :(
Your mother? Missed
Your father? Brilliant
Your favorite thing? Family
Your dream last night? Steno
Your dream goal? Debtless
The room you're in? Cluttered
Your hobby? Reading
Your fear? Death
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Officialship
Where were you last night? Chik-Fil-A
What you're not? Organized
One of your wish list items? Maid
Where you grew up? Here
The last thing you did? Snoozed
What are you wearing? Turtleneck
Your tv? Off
Your computer? Indispensable
Your mood? frustrated
Missing someone? Somewhat
Your car? Pacifica
Something you're not wearing? Shoes
Favorite shop? Toy
Your summer? chaotic
Love someone? Understatement!
Favorite color? None
When is the last time you laughed? Breakfast
When is the last time you cried? Unsure

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Costume (@&$%!!) and Another Sweets Day

Are you kidding me?

I should've seen it coming. Precious Daughter did the same thing in kindergarten, but I got off cheap that year when only "Sunday best" was required for her job as a narrator.

Mighty B. has to dress as a shepherd for this year's Grade-K Christmas pageant. Fortunately, shepherds are easy and I won't need the sewing machine at all.

On Friday, they're having "Sweets Day" as a fundraiser for Home & School. Yep, they did this last February, and some of you may remember my rant on the subject.

My kids have already placed their orders. She wants cookies, and he wants Rice Krispie treats. Well, at least the RK treats are easy to make. I am still tempted to dump the last of their Halloween candy into a bag and send it off to school with them, but I figure it will just come home in some other form.